Sometimes when I watch or listen to an Indians game, I start to come up with blog post ideas before the final out is made. Tonight, the major story line appeared to be the lack of production (yet again) from the offense. It felt like it was a post I’d already written a half dozen times; sloppy play, tons of runners stranded in scoring position, and another pretty strong night from the bullpen. But then, it all changed.
I almost gave up on this game…several times. I’m still on vacation, and sometimes it’s a hassle to try and keep a steady feed of the game going. When the video on my phone app started to freeze, I switched to the radio broadcast instead. My family and I were heading to dinner, and I was already highly annoyed with the offensive performance…I almost shut the game off after Orlando Cabrera grounded into a double play in the bottom of the 8th. For some reason, I kept it playing as we entered Souplantation, pressed up against my ear. Before I knew it, the bases were loaded. “Oh, they’ll find a way to blow this,” I kept telling myself. There are some games where I have a hunch something big is going to happen – tonight was not one of those nights. After Asdrubal Cabrera singled to make it 4-1, Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan made a crack about how Travis Hafner could win it with one swing of his bat…I snorted when they suggested it.
I’m walking along the salad bar, scooping my food out with one hand so I could keep the phone/game pressed up against my ear with my other hand. When Hafner hit that grand slam, I made quite the scene at the ‘ol salad bar. The best way I can describe it – did you happen to see Carlos Santana jumping up and down as he awaited Hafner’s arrival at home plate? I was doing the same thing at the salad bar. There was some yelling too; I definitely generated some looks. I still can’t quite believe it. I was impressed when Hafner hit that 3-run walk-off against Seattle on May 13, and I never thought he’d be able to top that level of drama. This is some of the magic that’s been missing lately, the Indians that never quit and never say die. With the way the first 8 innings played out, I never thought I’d see a 5-run 9th, capped by a walk-off grand slam.
Now, it’s time to discuss some of the less exciting parts of this game. Definitely not as fun as a walk-off grand slam, but when 90% of your game was played pretty poorly it at least deserves some discussion. Last I heard, Lonnie Chisenhall’s injury was just a facial contusion and nothing serious. (Talk about déjà vu – it seems like just yesterday I was watching Shin-Soo Choo get nailed by a pitch in San Francisco). The Indians already have their share of injuries and trips to the DL this year; I’m pretty sick of it at this point!
Zach McAllister was less than impressive, but he seemed pretty nervous and shaky through most of his appearance. He always was pitching from behind in the count, but he battled and managed to get himself out of a bases loaded situation in the top of the 4th inning. I still feel like his start could’ve been worse…it would’ve made it impossible for the Indians offense to make their spectacular comeback in the 9th inning. I didn’t realize that Cord Phelps was optioned back to Columbus to make room for McAllister – it was time. Phelps did not look ready for prime time yet, so hopefully he’ll get some innings in at Triple-A and can help in the future (or serve as a trade chip).
The Indians were only 2-10 with runners in scoring position, and that would be Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner’s contributions in the 9th inning. So for 8 innings, they were 0-8 with runners in scoring position, despite the fact that they had a base runner in every inning except for the 6th. Even Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t really look sharp (offensively or defensively) until the 9th inning. It was almost as if there were two different Indians teams out there tonight – one that was there for approximately 3 hours, and another that dropped by for the last 10-15 minutes or so.
I wanted to post something about this game, but I also had an opportunity to see Scott Boras speak here in Los Angeles this morning. I plan to write a post about his remarks when I get a few minutes; hopefully by the end of the weekend. Nothing really Indians-specific (except for a passing remark about when he represented Tim Belcher as a player), but it was still pretty interesting.