The Indians’ early season success was characterized by ultimate efficiency. No opportunity was wasted. They capitalized on every chance to win ballgames – whether holding steady while ahead or jumping on every chance to get back in games when behind. Things have certainly evened out over the past month but last night’s loss has to qualify for most frustrating of the season.
It was a completely squandered opportunity. The Indians had their best pitcher on the mound to start a 9 game road trip and weekend series against the defending champs. The Tigers, who have cooled a little, lost to Arizona giving the Indians a chance to increase their cushion in the AL Central.
And then it all came undone in the bottom of the sixth inning. Carlos Carrasco was in form, cruising through the first five innings and allowing only one run on a solo homer to Andres Torres. The 6th started with a Chris Stewart single to left. Nate Schierholtz, pinch hitting for the pitcher, hit a chopper to first. Carlos Santana extended his glove to snare the ball and turned to second to force the lead runner. Only, he threw wildly and Asdrubal Cabrera could not handle it. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Andres Torres singled to center to load them up.
With a slim 3-1 lead, it was time for Carrasco to bear down and control the damage. He got Emmanuel Burriss to hit a dribbler to first. Once again, Santana botched it as he charged the ball to come home for the force out. With the bases still loaded and the lead cut in half, Carrasco induced three straight outs.
Unfortunately, two of them were sacrifice flies. The second was caught by Jack Hannahan – that’s right, Andres Torres, who is fast, scored from third on a foul pop caught by our 3B. It didn’t help that Hannahan was backpedaling and stumbled further off his footing over the SF bullpen mound in foul territory. Harold Reynolds insisted on MLBNetwork that LF Shelley Duncan needed to call him off as he was charging in but I’m not sure he could have got to the ball in time. Nevertheless, the two sac flies made it 4-3. Ballgame.
It was such a waste. Carrasco went the full 8 innings and gave up only one earned – it was amazing that he got out of the inning giving up only 3 in the 6th. Of course, the Indians bats were nowhere to be found. They had as many hits as errors – capitalizing on early wildness from Giants starter Jonathon Sanchez but then going to bed for the rest of the night.
Santana is scheduled to start at first for the duration of this road trip. With his bat warming up (he did double home 2), here’s hoping last night was an aberration in the field. The Indians will try to get it back today with Justin Masterson going against Matt Cain at 4 PM on the bay.
(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)