When I was at the game tonight, I kept thinking a lot about the Indians’ “What If?” campaign that’s been going on throughout the season. Primarily, for two reasons – what if they never called Jason Kipnis up to Cleveland? And what if they were somehow able to overcome Detroit to conquer the AL Central? What if they wouldn’t have traded for Ubaldo Jimenez? After Kipnis went 5 for 5 tonight, I think it’s pretty easy to say that the Tribe doesn’t win this game without him. Even though the Tribe has had solid starting pitching for much of this year, it was pretty fun to watch Jimenez dealing at Progressive Field tonight.
The Indians’ offense fared quite well outside of the hits provided by Kipnis (who raised his average from .295 from .232) – the Indians tied their season high in doubles with 7 – Kosuke Fukudome had two and Lonnie Chisenhall, Ezequiel Carrera, Lou Marson, Carlos Santana, and Jason Kipnis each had one. Overall, the Tribe had 18 hits; every starter in this game had at least one hit, while Kipnis, Travis Hafner, Santana, Fukudome, and Chisenhall all had multiple hits. This is the kind of offensive outburst that fans have been waiting for; hopefully it can continue in the season finale against Detroit and against the Minnesota Twins this weekend.
In order to sweep the Tigers, the Indians will have to get past Justin Verlander. Verlander is having a Cy Young caliber season, but doesn’t have great lifetime numbers against the Indians – he is 11-11 with a 4.82 ERA in his career versus the Indians and is 4-8 with a 6.31 ERA in 13 starts at Progressive Field. Even if Verlander bests the Indians on Thursday night, at worst the Tigers would leave town with a 3 game lead over the Indians. In this case, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!