Second Thoughts: Game #147 - Indians 7, Tigers 6
The Indians went into Sunday's finale against the Tigers looking to avoid being swept for the 11th time this season.
Ubaldo Jimenez deals about as well as he can
By Jimenez standards, this was a great outing. It had a familiar air of disaster early, as his first inning featured four baserunners and a self-inflicted error that led to two runs. Instead of imploding like he has many times, he did the other thing he usually does - be impossible to figure out. After that, he allowed just one run over his last five innings, and retired the last eight batters he faced in order. He walked just two, one of them intentional.
Still, he labored enough that six innings was his limit (96 pitches), and part of the reason for that is not being able to make good enough pitches to create harmless contact early in counts, or miss bats entirely like he was advertised to the fan base to do. He just throws and throws every time out. All in all, though, it was a start to be happy with. The team wild pitch record will just have to wait.
Close calls in the middle innings
The Indians' fifth and sixth innings were filled with balls hit on the infield that broke their way. An error here, a deflection there, and three specific plays that had a major impact on the game, in more ways than one.
The Tigers thought they had turned double plays on two separate bang-bang occasions in the fifth, only with first base umpire Brian Knight to disagree with them both times. Words were exchanged both times, but more importantly, the Indians got two runs and a 4-3 lead out of the inning.
In the sixth, Carlos Santana chopped a grounder to a diving Miguel Cabrera (a play that most third basemen probably don't need full extension to make) and was able to beat out the throw, scoring another run. Had Prince Fielder not turned to complain about the call (again), Asdrubal Cabrera probably doesn't score from second on an infield hit.
A home run that never should have been allowed to happen
After the second coin-flip call went against the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth, Jim Leyland was ejected. Somehow, Cabrera was not. He started across the field towards Knight, got cut off by a different umpire, and not only touched him, but shoved him. No repercussions.
Fast forward to the seventh inning. The Indians have a 5-3 lead. Two on, two out, Cabrera in the box. He takes Joe Smith 10 rows deep into the bleachers, and the Tigers take control back. Of course, it was a non-issue because the Indians went on to win, but Cabrera never should have gotten that chance. If almost anyone else besides one of two challengers to Mike Trout's Most Valuable Player award makes contact with a man in blue like that, their day is over.
A little ninth-inning magic
Coming into this game, the Indians had just two wins this season when trailing after eight innings, one of which came Thursday in Texas. Trailing by a run, with their two, three and four hitters due up, it was time for another.
Jason Kipnis led off the inning against Jose Valverde by doubling to deep center field. Not uncharacteristically in the second half of the season, Cabrera was unable to be any kind of productive in his at bat and was retired without advancing Kipnis. Santana provided the first real bit of excitement, delivering a triple for the second time in two games to tie the score at six. With one out, Michael Brantley and Ezequiel Carrera were intentionally walked to set up a possible double play. Lonnie Chisenhall wasted no time deciding the game, as he ripped pitch number one into the right-center field gap for a game-winning hit.
Despite a disappointing season overall and a recent extended stretch of futility, winning a single meaningless game is still enjoyable for players and fans alike. Against the hated Detroit Tigers, and in walk-off fashion? Sheer bliss.
- This was the Indians' first Sunday win since July 1st. They had lost 10 straight games on the day of rest prior. To put it another way, it has been 77 days since I wrote about a game in which they did not lose. This is kind of a momentous occasion in my life right now, and I want to thank all of you for celebrating it with me.
- In 14 games at Progressive Field this season, the hero, Chisenhall, has played out of his mind. He is 17-for-47 (.362), with seven extra-base hits (.660 slugging percentage) and 12 runs batted in. It was a particularly nice surprise to see him, equipped with the same sweet swing, return from injury before the season wrapped up.
- Another typically ridiculous play besides Cabrera's non-ejection-turned-go-ahead-homer that the Indians tend to have happen to them this season took place in the fourth. With Russ Canzler on first and two outs in the inning, Jack Hannahan laced his second double of the game down the right field line. Canzler, thinking the ball was foul, went nowhere for a substantial length of baseball time. He was ultimately able to get to third, but almost certainly would have scored in normal circumstances. Luckily, Shin-Soo Choo followed with an opposite field fight-off single to score both runs and cover Canzler's indecisive tracks.
- In the sixth inning, a Cabrera popup in foul territory spelled disaster for the Tigers. Alex Avila and Fielder converged on the ball and each other, and even catcher's gear couldn't save Avila. Fielder caught Avila with an elbow and physics, and it sent him to the canvas. To the disappointment of no one who knows what Fielder looks like, Avila was removed from the game.
After an off-day on Monday, the homestand continues with a battle for fourth place in the American League Central. The Indians and Twins will play for the final three times this season, with David Huff, Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber scheduled to go.
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