August 26, 2014

Indians 9 Tigers 6: Homers, The Mafia, And Bad Tiger Defense

Every time I think I have a read on this team, they go out and surprise me.

I wrote on Sunday that I felt the Indians were about to head into a big time trouble area. But the one thing I’ve learned about a Manny Acta managed team, they seem to respond well to adversity. They are also getting healthier. The same cannot be said for the Detroit Tigers.

Last night the Indians welcomed Johnny Damon back from paternity leave and it would pay big dividends. Carlos Santana was behind the plate for the first time since his DL stint. They faced the power throwing right-hander Max Scherzer, a strike-out machine. It didn’t take long before Wahoos greeted him rudely.

Shin-Soo Choo led the game off with a single. After two fly ball outs, Carlos Santana hit another lazy fly ball to short right field. Brennan Boesch, who we have seen butcher several balls this season against the Indians, dropped the ball as he ran in to make the catch. This kept the inning alive for the hottest Indian of the all, Michael Brantley. The man they call Dr. Smooth took Scherzer’s first pitch deep into the right-field bullpen for a three-run homer.

“I was just trying to make sure I got a fastball early that I could kind of drive,” Brantley said. “It’s big to have an extra out. You want to make sure you swing at a good quality pitch, and I did. I was able to put a good swing on it.”

All three runs were unearned. That is exactly what you need to do when you get the additional chances.

“It’s something we address all the time,” said Acta. “When we give a team extra outs at times, teams take advantage of us. We were fortunate to take advantage of it there.

Meanwhile, Brantley is now hitting .282 and extended his hitting streak to 14 game. During the streak, the Tribe’s center fielder has driven in 14 runs.

The Tribe kept their power stroke going in the fourth. After Johnny Damon walked and stole second, first baseman Casey Kotchman crushed a rocket shot to right field that got out in a hurry to extend the Tribe’s lead to 5-1. Miguel Cabrera countered with a solo shot in the bottom half of the frame to move the Tigers one run closer. Unfortunately for the kitties, the Wahoo attack had Scherzer’s number in this one.

Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera opened the fifth inning with singles. Jason Kipnis followed with a dribbler to short that Jhonny Peralta came up with, but his weak throw to first was beaten out by the speedy Kipnis. It’s a play that we’ve seen from our old friend and shortstop a million times. Choo would score on the play. Carlos Santana’s swinging bunt (not really, but it worked as one) moved Cabrera and Kipnis into scoring position. Tigers manager Jim Leyland wisely decided to walk Brantley with first base open, to set up a potential double play ball, facing the light hitting Damon.

Fresh off of the birth of twin daughters, Johnny was so due for a big hit. This was his time. A few innings earlier, Damon made a home-run saving catch off the bat of Prince Fielder. Now was the chance for him to come through with the stick. He did.

Damon laced a single to left scoring two runs and breaking the game wide open. It would also end Scherzer’s night. Anything the Indians can get from Damon in left would be a welcome sight. He knows the clock is ticking on him too.

“Of course I think about it,” said Damon when asked about his slow start. “This is my livelihood. My family and I would like to be here throughout this season and help the team make the playoffs. We also understand the game of baseball. (Matt) LaPorta was traded for a significant piece of the puzzle in CC Sabathia a few years ago. We also know Grady (Sizemore) is probably going to start ramping up his activities. I also know a guy hitting .180 can’t expect to be in the lineup every day.”

The game seemed like it would be a laugher at 8-2, but there were still plenty of outs left to get, and the Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez just didn’t have it. After a four-run, five-hit bottom of the fifth, the game was on again, and Gomez was done after five.

Give the Tribe credit though. The Tigers smelled blood in the water, but couldn’t overcome the Wahoo Express. Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a big RBI single in the sixth to stop the Detroit momentum. At 9-6, with four innings remaining, Acta turned things over the Bullpen Mafia. Only one base-runner would reach the rest of the way.

Tony Sipp worked a perfect sixth. Joe Smith worked a perfect seventh. Vinnie Pestano worked a perfect eighth. Chris Perez danced around an unlucky triple (a fly ball that seemed to have been tracked and caught, dropped in between Choo and Brantley) to record his 19th save of the season. It was rare form by the Mafia.

The 9-6 win moved the Indians to a perfect 5-0 against their rivals. In all five games, Pestano and Perez have closed out the final two innings.

“It’s very comforting when you have a lead in the eighth,” said Acta. “I tip my hat to the other club if they beat us. I’ll put those two guys up against anybody right now. More times than not, they’ll get it done.”

With the White Sox loss to Toronto last night, the Tribe has crept to within a half game of first place in the AL Central. They go for a second sweep of the Tigers in two weeks this afternoon at 1:05 PM. Its Derek Lowe (7-3, 3.06 ERA) who will go for the Indians against rookie lefty Casey Crosby. Crosby has made one start and was lit up by the New York Yankees for six runs in three and a third.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • mgbode

    why do the words “rookie lefty” strike fear in my heart?

  • Nobody

    Mines too…

  • Garry_Owen

    “The Tigers smelled blood in the water.”

    Well there’s your problem.  Cats hate water. 

    Now, if they were the Detroit Sharks . . .

  • mgbode

    you need to get to the zoo more often:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEKUfmsc0iM

  • Natedawg86

    I wonder if they have a bring your cat to the game promo during the season.  Bunch of ….ies

  • cmm13

    I sometimes tune in to The Really Big Show (Rizzo keeps me coming back)…

    Anywho; they were reading off the starters for today’s game and when the name Casey Crosby came out the whole studio remarked…”Who’s that?!?!”

    I so wanted to be in studio to instantly reply, if the you read off the opposing pitcher’s name and have no idea who he is…..it’s the left handed pitcher the team called up/shuffled around/found on a beer league softball team/etc. just to face us.

    The go to move for anyone looking to beat us is throw ANY lefty in the lineup out there.

    Whether he’s made an MLB start or not.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The Yankees took a few turns before they got a read on Crosby in his debut but you are right he’s the kind of pitcher the Indians have problems hitting.  He doesn’t have dominate stuff, he’s a lefty and a rookie, all issues for Indians hitters.  They can tattoo Scherzer but watch today.

  • cmm13

    Are you a Major League Baseball Team?

    Did you just get roughed up by the Royals or Twins?

    Do you want to feel better and get back into the swing of things?

    Then try Detroit Tigers Baseball.  Our $100 million roster is sure to make the defensive errors you need to win a series.

    And…if you act now, we will throw in at least 2 of 3 games in which you face NOT JUSTIN VERLANDER.
     
    Detroit Tigers Baseball…it’s a gas!

  • Garry_Owen

    Oh, THAT’s what tigers look like! 

    I really do need to get to the zoo more often.  I love the one in Columbus.

    [Thanks for killing my joke, Mr. Killjoy.]

  • Vindictive_Pat

    They don’t even need to give this guy a name on the back of his jersey… he’s “AAA Lefty Starter” and with Lowe on the mound we’re looking at a classic pitchers’ duel at 1:05 pm my friends.  Lowe v. AAA Lefty Starter: A matchup for the ages!

  • mgbode

    eh, I’ve been called worse :)

  • mgbode

    thinking back to when Nintendo Baseball had all the stats for players and teamnames but not the player names.   Now batting:  Indians RF

  • mgbode

    I think when they were putting their defense together, they just looked and said “Hey, we have Austin Jackson in CF.  He’s great.  He can make up for negative impacts on defense from the other 8 spots, right?”

    (and when he’s not out there…they are 9/9 :) )

  • Hypno_Toad

    Nah that Berry dude made a great catch in center last night. But I get what you’re saying.

    Peralta at SS
    Cabrera at 3B
    Fielder (irony!) at 1B
    Boesch in RF

    yikes.