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Second Thoughts Game #134: Indians 2, Tigers 7

No Miggy, no problem for Tigers in rain-shortened game

Second Thoughts Game #134: Indians 2, Tigers 7
August 31, 2013
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A rough start for Zach McAllister, a lost fly ball by Michael Bourn with the bases loaded, wild pitches and more missed scoring opportunities did the Indians in again on Friday night in Detroit even with Miguel Cabrera taken out of the game early with an injury. The rain provided some relief to the torment for Indians players and fans, but ended up forcing the game to be called after seven innings to hand Cleveland their fourth straight loss.

Taking a step back

Playing poor baseball in the middle of a playoff race is as frustrating as it gets and while the season is not over, the Indians are hurting their chances with every loss in key games. But how much of a loss is it really if – and I’m only saying if – the Tribe fails to make the postseason? Of course, the main goal for every team in baseball is to hoist the World Series trophy and many may think anything less from a team in a playoff chase is a failure. However, does 2013 constitute a ‘World Series or bust’ season for the Tribe?

Looking back to October 4 of last year, the Indians’ regular season had ended the day before with a 9-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Chicago White Sox to cap off a painful second half collapse. Manager Manny Acta had just been fired the week before and bench coach Sandy Alomar had taken the reins for the remainder of the season. The September call-ups for the Tribe included forgettable names like Scott Maine and Vinny Rottino. The prospect of trading All-Stars Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez were a common topic of discussion amongst Tribe faithful as another rebuilding period was anticipated.

Cut to two days later and general manager Chris Antonetti, President Mark Shapiro and the ownership, on the verge of getting a visit from angry fans with pitchforks and torches, set the wheels in motion for what would end up being the most memorable offseason in recent memory in Cleveland by hiring two-time World Series champion manager Terry Francona to be skipper of the Tribe. The winter would see top free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn join the Indians on multi-year deals as well as several lesser deals that would prove to be productive for the team.

So where did that leave the Tribe and its fans on Opening Day 2013? Expecting a ring? Making a strong playoff run? The moves of the offseason had left many optimistic to that effect, but the majority of fans were willing to accept a better-than-last-year finish, preferably over .500. At the start of the year, the starting pitching was suspect and the offense as a whole was unproven.

Here in August, the Tribe is right in the thick of the AL Wild Card race, but has failed to show up against the big boys in Atlanta and Detroit. The offense has been virtually nonexistent in clutch situations and the pitching, which hasn’t been bad, hasn’t been good enough to bail them out. Fans are incredibly frustrated and disappointed, myself included, as the Tribe is only hurting themselves in their playoff campaign.

Not saying the Tribe is out of it yet. There’s still a month left to play with a favorable schedule, but the wheels are wobbling. However, considering how this team is structured, not making the playoffs wouldn’t be the end of the world. Indians do have a chance to finish with a winning record (still on track for 85-plus wins). Regardless of whether or not that is good enough to make the postseason, it still should be considered a successful year and enough incentive to keep building and move forward.

Facts and Notes:

  • Indians are now 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position since the start of this road trip.
  • AA Akron infield Jose Ramirez will be promoted when rosters expand on Sunday (September 1). Ramirez had a down year by his standards, but was still productive for the Aeros batting .273 with a three homers and 38 RBI’s as well as compiling 38 steals.
  • Zach McAllister allowed five runs in less than five innings for the first time since allowing five on August 8th against the very same Tigers.
  • In seven appearances as a starter this season (33 IP), Carlos Carrasco was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA. In four relief appearances (10.1 IP), Carrasco is 1-0 and has yet to allow a run.
  • The Tigers are now 14-3 against the Indians this season and have won six straight against them.

Up Next: Indians vs. Tigers @ Comerica Park. First pitch at 7:08pm ET.

Scott Kazmir will become the latest pitcher to try and lead the Tribe to their first win on this road trip as they have now lost the first four. Despite winning the first series of the year, the Indians have looked overmatched against the division rival Tigers losing the next 13 of 14 matchups. However, Detroit just barely avoided being swept in four games by the Athletics, so they are not invincible. But the Indians will have to get through Anibal Sanchez, who is having a career year going 11-7 with a 2.61 ERA and is 1-0 in two starts against the Tribe this season.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

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