Second Thoughts Game #142: Mets 2, Indians 1
Tribe bats go quiet against Dice-K, still able to win three-game series
Player of the Game: Eric Young (2-for-4 with game-winning RBI double)
There would be no magic at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario like there was 18 years ago, just one familiar foe.
Clinching their first ever division title on Sept. 8, 1995, the only thing the Indians clinched on Sunday was their first loss in four games. Cleveland had chances to cash in offensively, but couldn't get that big hit like they have during the first two games of the series.
Starter Danny Salazar (1-2, 2.91 ERA) looked great in his four innings of work, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out late. Still on a pitch count, Salazar tossed 52 of his 80 pitches for strikes.
The loss snaps the Tribe’s four game win streak, as they fall to 5-2 in the month of Septemeber.
Facing the team that released him only two weeks ago and having his former manager in the opposite clubhouse, Mets starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 8.00 ERA) had a lot to pitch for on Sunday.
Boy did he ever.
Playing under Indians manager Terry Francona for five seasons while in Boston from 2007-2011, Matsuzaka pitched his best game of the season. Surrendering one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, Dice-K got his revenge against Cleveland.
How does this happen?
You would think Francona knows Matsuzaka like the back of his hand managing him for five years while in Boston, right? It's only one game, but this one could've been totally avoided if the Tribe just gave the right-hander a chance on the big league roster this season.
Full Tab on Cabby
Just when you thought he was about to break out of his season long slump, he leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth again.
Having loaded up the bases with one out in the eighth and the game tied at one, Asdrubal Cabrera rolled over on a pitch to knock into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
For the 13,317 that watched it, that was the ballgame.
Think about it, this is the same shortstop that arguably became the face of the franchise in 2011, belting a club shortstop record with 25 homers and driving in 92 RBI.
Do you really want this guy hitting in the middle of the lineup if the Tribe do happen to make the playoffs?
I certainly don't.
Indians skipper Terry Francona better find a way to solve the problem soon, because he has a hole in his lineup each time Cabrera seems to be penciled in it.
Ninth inning disaster
Problems for closer Chris Perez (5-3, 3.70 ERA) and the Tribe continued in the ninth inning Sunday.
Serving up a leadoff single to New York center fielder Matt den Dekker proved costly, as he came around to score on the eventual two out, game-winning RBI double by Eric Young in the inning.
Taking the loss, Perez falls to 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA in his last 15 appearances.
If that wasn't bad enough already, the team had one more chance offensively to win it in the bottom half of the ninth.
I have no problem with Aviles trying to swipe second in that situation, what I do have a problem with is why Ryan Raburn did not enter the ballgame as a pinch hitter for Lonnie Chisenhall or Drew Stubbs. It better not have been for the excuse that Raburn just returned this week from the disabled list either. Hello, this is a playoff race.
No, Francona would rather see Stubbs strikeout for the fourth time in the game than see what his most productive hitter can do with the game on the line.
Still take the series
Forget all about the “what ifs” and other potential scenarios, the bottom line is the Tribe did their job and won another series.
With 20 games remaining on the schedule, they will certainly need to continue to do so from here on out. In fact, winning the final six series would put the Indians at 91 wins. I think it will take one or even two more victories to win a wild card spot, so the team realistically will need to sweep a series or two as well.
Less than two weeks of the regualar season remains. IIf you aren't excited about what is to come over the final stretch run and push to October, you simply have no pulse.
Suffering the loss, Cleveland (76-66) fall back to two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the final American League wild card spot. They remain 5.5 games out in back of the first place Detroit Tigers in the Central Division.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe opens up a crucial three-game series with division rival and wild card contender Kansas City Royals starting Monday. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (10-9, 3.79 ERA) will toes the rubber against K.C.'s Ervin Santana (8-8, 3.33 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Jimenez is 1-0 in four starts against the Royals in 2013, boasting a 3.74 ERA. Santana has been even better against the Wahoo's, giving up only one run in 14 innings against them in two starts.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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