Yesterday, I uttered the phrase “I didn’t know what to say anymore” about this Indians team. 24 hours later, once again, they have left me speechless in the way they lost yet another game, their sixth in a row, this time to Eric Wedge and the Seattle Mariners. The days of good pitching, great defense, and timely hitting are long gone at this point. Now it’s essentially becoming borderline painful to watch this team. The exciting moments are few and far between with this group.
The game started locally here in Cleveland at 10:10, so I can’t blame you if you weren’t watching. I mean, after all this was a matchup of Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Millwood. Not to mention the Indians sputtering bats against a Mariners offense that isn’t exactly the New York Yankees. Somewhere, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Ken Griffey Jr, and Edgar Martinez were looking at this one and shaking their heads.
The two sides of Ubaldo were in full effect in this one. He was actually hitting 95 on the radar gun, walked just one, and struck out eight Mariners. You see that and you say to yourself “wow, Ubaldo must have actually pitched pretty well.” Then you take into account the two, two-out homers he gave up to Griffey Jr and Jay Buhner….. errrrr…..Michael Saunders and Eric Thames. Jimenez was lifted after five and two-thirds.
“Everytime I fall behind in the count and try to throw a fastball in there, they’re hacking really hard and taking me out of the park,” said Jimenez, who has allowed 23 home runs in 2012.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
On the other side was Millwood, the ex-Indian who is the poster boy for the lack of quality starting pitching in the majors. Yes, he is a wily veteran at this point, but his best days are long behind him. That didn’t stop Millwood from going six innings, allowing three runs on five hits.
Jason Kipnis led off the game with a solo homer off the foul pole in right. It ended a 48-game, 173 at-bat home run drought for the Indians second baseman, who has struggled since the all-star break. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, back to back two-out RBI singles by Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera put the Tribe on top 3-2. Thames homer tied things in the sixth to make this one a battle of the pens.
The Indians know that to win games, they somehow, any way possible, have to get the game to Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez with a lead. At least last night they weren’t being blown out and had their next best bullpen guys, Joe Smith and Tony Sipp, on in the seventh in a tie game.
Smith walked the light-hitting Brendan Ryan to start the seventh. Tom Hamilton, the Indians radio play by play man who is such a pleasure to listen to, said “I don’t know what the stats are, but when you walk the leadoff man in the seventh inning or later, it always seems to come back and bite you.”
Hammy was prescient.
On came Sipp to face the next four Mariners, all lefties. After Dustin Ackley’s sacrifice bunt (yes, Eric Wedge called for a bunt!), Saunders took Sipp deep for his second two-run home run of the game.
“He’s typically gotten me out with those sliders,” Saunders said. “He ended up hanging one tonight.”
Wedge smartly gave lefty Charlie Furbush a second inning of work, since as you know, left-handers are Tribe kryptonite. He retired six of the seven men he faced.
It won’t get mentioned, but in the bottom of the eighth, rookie Cody Allen did a fabulous job after he entered the game with a man on third and one out. Allen froze Miguel Olivo with four straight breaking pitches and got Treyvon Robinson on a groundout.
In this season of garbage, the unearthing of Allen is one of the few bright spots, especially during this horrific month-long skid.
Allen’s stellar relief work looked like it could pay off as the Indians actually showed some life against Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen. With one out, Casey Kotchman singled, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Ezequiel Carrera. Wilhelmsen sawed Zeke off, shattering his bat. However Carrera’s fly ball hit high off the right-field fence for a double, narrowly missing a game-tying homer. The Tribe now had two chances to even things up.
Pinch hitter Jack Hannahan walked on four pitches to load the bases for Kipnis, who had two hits and a homer earlier in the game.
Did you think he was going to hit a gap-shot double to clear the bases and put the Tribe on top? If so, you haven’t been paying attention to the Scott Salem-esque black cloud that has been circling this team since July 26th.
Kipnis grounded into a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play to end the game. I promised myself I wouldn’t even mentioned the wild pitch to Hannahan that would have scored Kotchman and moved Carrera to third, but inexplicably bounced right back to Olivo behind the plate, but I have to.
“When things are going bad, they’re going bad,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “The guys couldn’t even move. That’s the way things are going right now.”
It was the Tribe’s sixth straight loss in what is starting to be known around these parts as “The Streak II.”
“We don’t even want to think about that,” Jimenez said. “We have to go out there every day, trying to execute, trying to hopefully get a win. You definitely don’t want to put that in your mind that, ‘Here we go again.'”
How can you not think about it? Between the Chris Perez/A’s fan incident and the constant losing of late, it’s probably a good thing the Indians are on the West Coast.
Want more good news, Tribe fans? Our boys in Red, White, and Blue get to face none other than Felix Hernandez tonight! You know King Felix, don’t you? The guy who threw a perfect game his last time out? But don’t fret, we have our own Hernandez going tonight, Roberto.
These recaps are getting harder and harder to write as this team is getting harder and harder to watch. But I soldier on, not just for you, but for me. I am a glutton for punishment apparently.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)