Saturday night in Arlington was a microcosm of this incredible up-and-down week, this incredible rollercoaster season. All of the Indians flaws which have put them in this slump were on display. But so were the thrills and late-inning heroics that were a staple of the first two months and made this season a race.
It’s just that those heroics came from some guys who weren’t a part of those first two months. With the Indians down to their final at-bats, Kosuke Fukudome, Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis evened the game, put the Tribe ahead, and added some insurance for closer Chris Perez. The new guys crushed flamethrower Neftali Feliz to stave off the Indians first sub .500 record since April 3rd and what would look like an insurmountable 5 game hole behind the streaking Tigers.
With the Indians trailing 4-3, Kosuke Fukudome led off with a double to the gap in right. With the Rangers in “no doubles” defense, it appeared that a lumbering Nelson Cruz was going to catch it but it the ball came loose and Fukudome cruised into 2nd. Fukudome has been raking all week and his contributions should not be overlooked – hitting .345 on the trip with crucial doubles and RBIs. Zeke Carrera sacrificed him over to 3rd which set the stage for Chisenhall.
Fighting off near triple digit fastballs, on a 1-2 count, Chisenhall ripped a single to right just past 2B Ian Kinsler who was playing in on the grass to cut off the runner at 3rd. Chiz was not done yet. Michael Brantley put in an incredible at-bat, finishing with a ripped double off the wall. Chisenhall was immediately on his horse and scored from first – just under the tag of Yorvit Torreabla to put the Tribe back on top. The red-hot Jason Kipnis would add some insurance with a two-run homer just over the wall in right.
A claim was quickly made with that insurance. One night after coughing up a two run lead with only one out remaining, Perez looked shaky. Much like Friday, he quickly got the first two outs of the inning but it was an adventure after that. Elvis Andrus singled home Ian Kinsler to cut the lead to two. Josh Hamilton ripped a ball to third that got on top of Lonnie. With runners on first and second, Perez threw a wild pitch that was just about as wild as it gets – barely in the vicinity of catcher Lou Marson.
The man who lit up Perez on Friday, Michael Young, came to the plate with the tying run on 2nd. Young ripped a shot up the middle but Asdrubal Cabrera was shaded that way and in position to make the final out. It was another close call and not exactly a bounce-back confidence-builder.
In 100+ degree heat, Fausto Carmona had one of his better performances of the year. Here’s hoping Carmona has found something in that August heat – we all know he has the ability but it would be a nice boost if he put it together down the stretch. He threw only 89 pitches in a little more than 6 innings of work. He gave up 2 earned runs that should have never been if not for a botched double play ball by Asdrubal Cabrera. The Tribe’s defense was atrocious again last night – it nearly cost them the game after they fought so hard to break the 0-0 tie in the 7th.
The man responsible for breaking that tie, Shelley Duncan, should have earned himself a roster spot for the remainder of the season. He’s been on the I-71 yo-yo all year but there is absolutely no reason for him to slot behind Austin Kearns for that OF role and roster spot.
The Indians finish the road trip tonight with an 8:05 start to avoid the August Texas heat (that hasn’t really worked the past 2 nights). They have an opportunity to come out with a winning 4-3 record on what was the most daunting trip of the season. It’s been the most up-and-down of weeks, with every game a nailbiter and heart-stopper. Tonight it’s pivotal to finish the trip with a win, win the series, win the road trip, and come home for the biggest 3 game set of the season on a high note. Josh Tomlin will face Colby Lewis and the Rangers dangerous lineup.