Roughly 14 hours after losing a 2-1 heartbreaker where they had the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth but failed to score, your Wahoo Warriors failed to get a single hit against Angels right-hander Ervin Santana. The no-no was the ninth in Angels history and its first since the Mark Langston/Mike Witt combo in April of 1990. It was the first no hitter in Jacobs/Progressive Field history and the first time the Tribe has been no hit since Jim Abbott’s gem for the Yankees in 1993. The Tribe pitchers on that day were Bob Milacki and Bill Wertz! Quite the tandem.
The first two games of this series, the Indians had to face the ace combo of Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. They managed a split with the chance to win the series with a win Wednesday afternoon, instead, a moribund offense hit rock bottom against a pitcher was entered 0-6 in his career against them. He picked the right time to be on. The Indians bats are officially asleep. Santana struck out 10, walked just one (Lonnie Chisenhall in the eighth). He was never really challenged on the day. It was getaway day and the Tribe took a lot of getaway day at bats, swinging early in the count and letting Santana get into a groove. I looked up in the seventh inning and he had only thrown 68 pitches.
Said Manager Manny Acta: “A lot of times on a no-hitter, you do have to have good stuff, but not necessarily your best stuff. But he was terrific today. … Regardless of how our lineup is doing, you can’t take credit away from him.”
Of course to make matters worse, the offense wasted another solid outing from one of its starters. On this day, David Huff got to know what it felt like to be a real member of the Indians rotation. You know you have earned your stripes as an Indians starter when you allow one earned run in six innings and end up a loser. No one will talk about it, but Huff was very good in his second start. He has now pitched 12.2 innings and given up just one earned run (0.71 ERA).
“I really liked what I saw from David Huff,” Acta said. “I like his new, aggressive delivery. His off-speed pitches were better. And his fastball has been better, too.”
Now back to the offense. So many guys are struggling right now it hard to keep track. Their best hitter, Asdrubal Cabrera, is two for his last 18. Carlos Santana is three for his last 22. Matt LaPorta is three for his last 26. Michael Brantley is three for his last 19. It seems like if Travis Hafner isn’t coming up with a big hit, they don’t score. Actually, it doesn’t seem that way, it is that way. They can’t seem to get anything going and the losses of Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore coupled with these slumps are killing this team.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” said Carlos Santana. “You have to stay positive.”
Lost in all of this horrible offense talk was the Tribe defense, which was as bad as it has ever been Wednesday afternoon. They made not one, not two, but FIVE errors. Throw in Carlos Santana’s passed ball (which should have been ruled an error) and you had just a horrific, horrific day. Huff did his best to work around these errors, but Santana’s botch job was a killer. The score was tied at one with two outs and a man on third. Acta pulled Huff for Joe Smith to face the right-handed hitting Peter Bourjos. Smitty threw a pitch in the dirt that Santana originally blocked away from the plate. When he went to pick it up, he kicked the ball, allowing Torii Hunter to score. The Angels took the lead for good.
In the ninth, despite the fact that they were being no hit, the Tribe still had a shot, trailing by just one run. With one out, Howie Kendrick attempted to steal second base. For the second time in a week, Santana airmailed the throw and Kendrick ended up at third. He scored on a Bourjos single. The extra run didn’t matter because Santana would finish off his historic day.
“I would encourage all of them to do what I’m doing tomorrow,” Acta said. “Go out and play in the golf tournament — the charity event for the team — and to relax and come out the day after that.”
I don’t know what else they can do at this point. The crazy part about this is the Tigers lost again to the White Sox yesterday afternoon and the Indians didn’t lose any ground again in the AL Central, which is now a true three team race. The Indians are two back while the White Sox are just three and a half back. Meanwhile the Sox traded starting pitcher Edwin Jackson in a three-team trade yesterday. Rumors are that they are also looking to see what they can get for OF Carlos Quentin. I don’t see why the South Siders would be traded anyone, considering how neither the Tigers nor the Indians look like they want to win this division.
The Tribe needs to regroup during this off day and hopefully GM Chris Antonetti can add a bat before the Sunday trade deadline. If this team offense stands pat, next week’s murderous seven game trip to Boston and Texas could be a long one.