Talk about a tale of two games down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. If you were actually watching the big Indians/White Sox tilt last night, you may have turned it off mid-way through the second inning. If you turned it back on around 10:15 EST, you would have been shocked to see the score.
Lets start at the beginning. Mitch Talbot got the start for the Indians and was looking to recapture his pre-All Star break form. Over his last nine starts, we should have changed his nickname from “The Fury” to “Mitch the Itch.” After striking out Juan Pierre to open the game, Talbot turned into Hector Ambriz.
Omar Vizquel, who once again received a well deserved ovation from the sparse crowd at Progressive Field, singled. Alex Rios then blooped a ball behind first baseman Andy Marte who for some reason never made a play on the ball. It dropped before Jason Donald had a chance to make the play. It was ruled a single. Paul Konerko followed by doubling in Vizquel and Rios. Four batters in, the Tribe was down 2-0.
That was just the beginning of Talbot’s misery.
In the second, Alexei Ramirez singled. Mark Kotsay’s double brought him home. Gordon Beckham singled, which was followed by Talbot hitting Pierre to load the bases. After finally getting his first out of the inning, Rios touched him up for a single scoring both Kotsay and Beckham. Eight of the first 12 White Sox hitters reached base and he dug the Indians into a 5-0 hole with just one out in the second inning.
Somehow, Mitch the Itch lasted five innings and managed not to give up another run. “He’s not making pitches,” Acta said. “That’s been an issue the last couple outings. I don’t know whether it’s the innings catching up to him or not, but he’s leaving the ball up.”
Talbot is 0-5 with a 6.23 ERA in his last nine starts. But is he tired?
“Everything is good [physically],” Talbot said. “I’m just not making pitches. Today was kind of a frustrating day. I didn’t feel that they hit a lot of balls hard. They just kind of found some holes. They hit them where our defense wasn’t.”
Meanwhile when you see the Indians trailing by five runs, you automatically assume the game is all but over. But with still eight innings of at-bats remaining, the Wahoo Warriors had plenty of time to chip away at the Sox lead.
In the fourth, Travis Hafner doubled in front of a Jayson Nix two-run bomb that got the Indians on the board. In the fifth, Hafner delivered the second of his four hits on the night, an RBI double scoring Asdrubal Cabrera. With Shelley Duncan being held at third and Hafner now at second, the tying runs were in scoring position. That’s where they would stay after Nix and Jason Donald K’d to end the threat.
After the Sox scratched across their sixth run off of reliever Justin Germano – the first run Germano has allowed in his 17.1 innings of work with the Tribe – the offense needed a miracle against Sox closer Bobby Jenks. It came in the form of some bad defense.
Shin-Soo Choo walked to open the ninth and went to second on catcher’s indifference. He would score on Duncan’s RBI bloop single. Hafner doubled – his fourth hit of the night – and Duncan stopped at third. Once again, the Indians had the tying runs in scoring position, this time with nobody out. Luis Valbuena, now in the game after Nix was tossed for arguing a strike call in the seventh, hit a high chopper to second baseman Brett Lillibridge. The fill-in second baseman, who was only in the game because Beckham was hit in the hand by a Frank Herrmann pitch, rushed his throw wide of first base. Duncan and Hafner scored and the game was tied.
Meanwhile, Sweet Luis was now on second with nobody out and the game now tied at six. Naturally, the Tribe climbed that mountain and just before getting to the peak, they fell down. Marte weakly grounded to short for the first out. Donald followed with the same weak ground out to short. Pinch hitter Trevor Crowe couldn’t come through either, grounding out to second to end the inning.
You just knew the Indians weren’t going to win at that point. Even as they lost, they went down in flames.
In the 11th, Rafael Perez retired the first two Sox, bringing the weak hitting Lillibridge to the plate. Perez hung a slider right down the middle and Lillibridge hit it to the bleachers in left for just his second homer of the season. He went from goat to hero in a flash. Perez Left’s implosion had just begun. Before being lifted for the great Hector Ambriz, Raffy allowed three more runs on three hits and a walk.
“We’ve said it a ton of times: This is not basketball,” Acta said. “The clock is not going to run out on anybody. With two outs and a two-strike count, you have to continue to make pitches.”
Raffy Perez didn’t heed his managers words and the Tribe went down 10-6.
They look to get back in the win column tonight against newly acquired right-hander Edwin Jackson, who is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.96 since coming over from Arizona. Justin Masterson (5-12, 5.23 ERA) gets the ball for the Tribe. One reason to tune in tonight is the return to Cleveland for Manny Ramirez, playing his first game for the White Sox after being claimed on waivers over the weekend.
Photo via Chuck Crow/PD