After receiving text after texts from my boys Billy and Fritzer, in the left field stands in Anaheim that read like a missed opportunity convention, my response as we headed into extra innings was simple. “This one just isn’t meant to be.”
After living right for eight straight games, playing flawless defense and coming up with timely hits, the Indians were on the other end of the stick and it cost them dearly in their 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Angels.
Before we tackle how they lost, lets cut to the end. After Vinnie Pestano, Tony Sipp, and Chris Perez were once again money putting up zeroes and giving the Indians a chance to take a lead in a tie game, Manager Manny Acta had to go to his pen once again in the 12th. This time he went to right-hander Chad Durbin to face righties Torri Hunter, Vernon Wells, and switch-hitter Alberto Callaspo.
The second I saw the Durbin/Hunter matchup, I tweeted “Chad Durbin in, Torri Hunter up. This could be the ballgame.” Not a second after I hit send, Hunter missed a game-winning home-run foul by two feet. It was a bad omen.
Despite getting Hunter out, Durbin allowed a single to Wells, who was mired in a 1-30 slump. Then he walked Callaspo on four pitches. To make matters worse, Durbin uncorked a wild pitch to Mark Trumbo, moving the runners into scoring position. To set up the force at any base, Trumbo was intentionally walked. The game ended with a sac fly from the light hitting Jeff Mathis.
“There’s no need to get a guy into scoring position,” Durbin said of his wild pitch. “Make them hit their way into it. I kept trying to throw sinkers middle away and let it run to the corner of the plate, and it ran off the plate or down. That’s not very efficient.”
Durbin is very lucky he got himself a guaranteed million dollars from the Indians in Spring Training, because he isn’t pitching like a guy who wants to stick around. While Pestano, Sipp, Rafael Perez, and Chris Perez have been lights out thus far, Durbin has been extremely ineffective. In his five appearances, he now carries a 10.13 ERA and has allowed five hits and four walks in 2.2 innings of work. Not what you want from the veteran.
In all fairness to Durbin, he should never have been put in that situation. Asdrubal Cabrera’s bad news bears-esque throwing error turned a Howie Kendrick leadoff double into run in the bottom of the fourth. On top of that the Indians offense failed to come through time after time and blew several easy scoring chances. They were 0-8 with runners in scoring position.
In the fourth inning with a 1-0 lead, Shin-Soo Choo singled and stole second. Carlos Santana then walked. Choo ended up on third on an Ervin Santana wild pitch and the Tribe seemed to be in business with runners on the corners and nobody out. Then the bottom fell out. Travis Hafner was called out on a suspect check swing third strike for the first out. All they needed was a fly ball. Orlando Cabrera, who has been so good thus far, hit a hard liner right at second baseman Howie Kendrick, who turned it into a 4-6-3 double play.
In the sixth, Choo again was on board to lead off the inning and again, he stole second. Santana’s groundout moved him to third. Once again, all they needed was a sac fly or a ground ball to the right side. Instead, Hafner again K’d and Choo was caught too far off of third and Mathis’s snap throw to nailed him for the third out.
In the eighth, trailing 3-2, the Tribe once again had a shot for a big inning. Adam Everett and Michael Brantley (who had three hits and SHOULD NOT taken out of the leadoff spot when Grady Sizemore comes back) hit back to back singles. Asdrubal Cabrera, the Tribe’s Mr. Clutch in the first 11 games, hit a grounder towards third base. Everett who was off the bag, had no choice but to run home and was tagged for the first out. Brantley was then wild pitched over to third and once again the Tribe had the tying run at third with less than two outs. Choo, facing lefty Scott Downs, hit a 3-2 chopper that glanced off of the glove of Downs right to Kendrick. Brantley scored to tie the game and Cabrera moved to third. Santana, who is 0-for his last 18, K’d looking against Fernando Rodney to end the threat.
That was their last best chance to score and the Angels won it in the 12th.
“Our pitching took us to the end of the game because we didn’t execute offensively. The lack of execution pretty much took away our victory,” said Acta.
While it is disappointing to end the road trip with two straight losses, I think a 4-2 trip is something we’d all have signed up for beforehand. “I’ll take a 4-2 West Coast trip any time,” said Acta.
Now the Indians come home for a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles. They are still in first place at 8-4, but a win last night would have been great for the momentum. A day off comes today before the Orioles come to town. Justin Masterson (2-0, 1.35 ERA), who has been great in his first two starts of the season, will get the series underway Friday against Baltimore phenom lefty Zach Britton (2-0, 0.66 ERA).
With the Cavs season now over, lets get behind this team. Get out this weekend and see this young bunch. Hopefully I will see you down there Sunday.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)