Yesterday in this space some fool wrote “How about it, Baseball Gods? Can you cut the Indians some slack?”
John Updike told us long ago that gods do not answer letters, but apparently they do, at least sometimes, answer queries submitted via blog post. A few hours later I got my answer: a big fat loud resounding NO. On Labor Day 2011, the Cleveland Indians were to be cut no slack whatsoever, as they were soundly beaten by the Detroit Tigers by a score of 4 to 2.
Tigers starter Doug Fister, recently acquired via trade from the Seattle Mariners, had another solid start for his new team yesterday, striking out a career-high 13 batters over eight innings. Fister allowed only four hits and one walk; only one of the two runs he allowed was earned (although it was his own throwing error that helped to account for the unearned run). 72 of Fister’s 101 pitches were thrown for strikes, which translates mathematically to a ratio of Pretty Damned Good. Jose Valverde did what he always does and shut the Tribe down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, earning his league-leading 41st save.
Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a decent game himself, allowing only two hits over seven innings. Unfortunately, both of those hits came in the same inning, with a walk to Miguel Cabrera sandwiched in between. And the bottom slice of bread, if you will, was a 420-foot home run to right field by former Indians catcher Victor Martinez. Jimemez served Martinez a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Martinez was waiting for it, and he knew what to do with it when he got it.
How bad was the Indians’ offense yesterday? Five of the first six hitters in the lineup each had two strikeouts; the other one, Jim Thome, struck out only once. The only good thing you can say about the Indians’ offense is that Kosuke Fukudome had another solid game, going 2 for 4 with a home run. The rest of the bats seemed to be enjoying Labor Day by taking the day off.
The Indians are now 7½ games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. These next two games against the Tigers, the one tonight and the one tomorrow afternoon, absolutely have to be considered must-win games if the Indians have any thoughts of winning the AL Central this season. But they’re going to have to do it on their own. I won’t even bother asking the Baseball Gods for help this time.