Coming up with fresh material for these Tribe recaps at this point in the season is not easy. There are two weeks left in the regular season and the Indians need just one more win to guarantee they won’t lose 100 games. The quest for that victory began last night in Minnesota. The Twins, unbeknownst to the majority of the country, are just one game behind the Yankees for the best record in the league. They entered these last two weeks on with a 44-18 record since the All-Star break and they are playing in a beautiful new stadium, packed to the gills every night.
They are currently living the dream like the Indians did in the mid-90’s. So why is it that nobody seems to take them serious as a World Series contender? They will head into the playoffs at a disadvantage – they will have to go through both the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays just to get to the fall classic.
Last night, the Twins continued their quest for home field advantage against our boys in Red, White, and Blue. Jeanmar Gomez got the ball from Manny Acta for this one and struggled again. It seems as though the bloom is off the rose for both Gomez and Josh Tomlin, who were both so good when they first arrived in Cleveland.
Baseball is all about adjustments. Now there is a book on both Tomlin and Gomez. Now its time for them to adjust to the adjustments (say that 20 times fast). Jeanmar has shown a knack of getting out of sticky situations, but last night he couldn’t escape the Twins attack, particularly with two outs.
In the first, Gomez walked Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome with two outs, then watched as Delmon Young drove in Cuddyer with a double. Andy Marte’s triple in the the top of the second scored Shelley Duncan to tie the game at one (that is yet another sentence I’d never thought I’d write).
In the fourth, Gomez again retired the first two, and then was touched up. Danny Valencia homered, J.J. Hardy singled, Jose Morales walked, and Jason Repko singled. In the blink of an eye, it was 3-1 Minnesota.
In the fifth, two infield singles and a stolen base gave the Twins their fourth run – all four runs coming with two out.
“We’ve stressed finishing innings a lot to these kids,” said Acta. “But sometimes when they get two out, they tend to lose focus and concentration. When you have two out, you’re three-fourths of the way there. You need to zero in, make a pitch and get out of there.”
The offense tried to make it a game in the sixth against Brian Duensing. Trailing 4-1, they loaded the bases with one out. Marte, who had already driven in the Tribe’s lone run, singled in Shin-Soo Choo. Drew Sutton followed with an RBI single of his own. With the bases still loaded and the Wahoos now down one, they seemed to be in business.
Then they remembered who they were.
Lou Marson struck out and Michael Brantley, who’s 19 game hitting streak came to an end last night, sharply lined out to third. That was the closest the Indians would get.
Gomez again was one out away from major damage in the sixth, but just couldn’t get third out. Denard Span tripled home Hardy, Orlando Hudson singled home Span, and Cuddyer crushed a back-breaking two run shot, which chased Gomez with the score now 8-3.
“I need to be more focused with two out,” said Gomez, who is 0-5 with a 7.67 ERA in his last six starts.
The only other thing worth mentioning from last night was another injury to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. One Cuddyer’s infield single in the fifth, AC landed awkwardly on his wrist while trying to field the ball. he would eventually come out of the game. X-Rays were taken after the game and were negative.
“I was really scared, but it’s not connected to the forearm,” said Cabrera. “I had X-rays on the wrist and everything is all right.”
The Tribe sends Fausto Carmona (12-14, 3.81 ERA) to the bump tonight in Minnesota. He has been spectacular in September, posting a 1.13 ERA in three starts. He will face Scott Baker (12-9, 4.60 ERA).
(photo via Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune)