Tribe starting pitcher gets down early and only goes five innings.
Tribe offense battles back to tie the game.
Tribe bullpen implodes and game seems all but lost.
Last night’s 9-8 loss to Milwaukee did however, feature another stunning late-inning comeback, but thanks to the pen, it was all for naught. The Tribe was trailing 8-4 going into the bottom of the ninth. With one out Jamey Carroll walked and Mark DeRosa doubled, which brought Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman to the mound. Hoffman, who has been spectacular this season, gave up an two-RBI single Victor Martinez to cut the lead to 8-6. Shin-Soo Choo worked a walk to put the tying run on base. Ryan Garko then laced a double to left to tie the game. Unfortunately for the Tribe, Garks twisted his ankle rounding second and was tagged out.
That would come into play later.
Nevertheless, the Tribe managed to come all the way back to tie a game they had no business being in. But all of the good will was lost thanks to another Tribe staple – the reliever walk parade. Greg Aquino, (who followed a perfect 10th from Kerry Wood) after giving up a one out single to Prince Fielder, walked three Brewers. J.J. Hardy’s sac fly put the Crew ahead 9-8.
Still, the Wahoos had another chance. They put two on with one out in the bottom of the 11th, but Choo struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch from lefty Mitch Stetter. Up came Garko’s spot for the Tribe’s last shot. Unfortunately, Francisco, locked in a 3-31 slump, was now there. Not surprisingly, Benny K’d swinging to end the game.
A couple of quick things that must be mentioned:
- Over the last month, I was pleasantly surprised by the relief work of Aquino, Luis Vizcaino, and Matt Herges. But over the last week or so, reality has set in and we all – the major league hitters included – realized that these guys are still Greg Aquino, Luis Vizcaino, and Matt Herges. There is a reason the Tribe was able to pluck these guys for nothing more than minor league contracts when they did. They are journeyman. In their 3.1 innings of work last night, the trio allowed four runs, seven hits, and walked four.
- Joe Smith? I know he has been injured, but so far you have to say the guy is completely unimpressive. He has yet to find his groove here and continues to get pounded. Eric Wedge gave him the ball to start the sixth after the Tribe tied the game at three. In the seventh, he grooved a meatball right down the middle to the .202 hitting Bill Hall, who deposited into the left field bleachers. In his 12 appearances, covering 11 innings, Smith has allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits, walking 10.
- Trevor Crowe? Not ready. He made two killer mistakes that changed the game last night. He was shaky defensively in Center, almost crashing into Right Fielder Mark DeRosa on a fly ball, and he alligator armed a shot to left center which turned into a two-out RBI double for Fielder in a one run game in the seventh. Worst of all was his base-running blunder when he was the lead run at second base with one out in the fifth. After Carroll bunted him over to second, DeRosa hit a chopper to short and for some reason, Crowe was running on contact and was nailed. Bad, bad mistake. He is hitting just .177.
- The problems with Crowe are magnified because Ben Francisco is the other option in Center right now. Doesn’t Franklin Gutierrez seem like a pretty good player to you? Without Grady Sizemore roaming Center, the Tribe is forced to go with either Crowe or Francisco, who looks completely lost at the plate. As our friends over at the newly named-changed Bench Ben Francisco said yesterday “Ben Francisco is no longer a rookie. He is no longer a 24-year old, wet-behind-the-ears young ball player. He spent parts of seven years in the minors and now we are seeing why.”
- Lastly, when they trailed by four runs into the ninth, couldn’t they have just gone quietly on their way to a loss? The comeback and subsequent L cost me a quality hour of sleep since I was sucked back in.
Now the Tribe heads to the Windy City for their first trip to Wrigley Field for the first time in 11 years. Nothing like a meeting of two teams who haven’t won a World Series in a combined 162 years.