Normally I don’t mind extra inning games that much. It just seems that every one I end up attending at Progressive Field this year does not end well for the Indians.
Everyone is questioning Manny Acta’s decision to intentionally walk Mitch Moreland (with good reason). It’s not necessarily even a “hindsight is 20/20” situation; I was at the game and people were questioning it as it happened and before Beltre actually stepped to the plate. While that was quite obviously the final nail in the coffin, I don’t think it’s even the most annoying moment from tonight’s game. For that, we have to rewind to the bottom of the 8th inning. I was so ecstatic that the Indians managed to pull even with the Rangers after being completely baffled by Derek Holland all night, that I ignored/forgot about their best opportunity to win the game.
At this point, Holland had held the Indians to just 3 hits and three walks through 7 innings. Lou Marson struck out to start the inning; this wasn’t surprising as he looked terrible tonight and has looked terrible at the plate in his limited appearances so far this season. Then Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis got to Holland as they both singled. In just two batters, the Indians had almost matched their hits total for the entire rest of the game. This knocked Holland from the game as Mike Adams entered from the bullpen. Cabrera managed to double to cut the score in half, 2-1, and everyone around me at the game was flipping out that Kipnis was held up at third. That was a moot point after he was able to score and tie the game on a passed ball.
So now, you have Asdrubal Cabrera at third with just one out and your big guns coming to the plate – Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner. There’s only one out, so even a sacrifice fly puts the Tribe up 3-2, but Santana struck out and Hafner grounded out to first. This was the last really big offensive threat from the Indians, as the bats were mostly quiet in the ninth and in extra innings. Santana looked absolutely terrible at the plate all night. He usually puts together decent at-bats, even if they don’t always turn out to be productive…that was not the case this evening. Hafner has been in a free fall for much of the last week and didn’t look much better than Santana.
While I’m annoyed by the bottom of the 8th, and by the intentional walk and subsequent home run in the 11th, I will say this – the Indians probably never deserved to be as close as they got tonight. Derek Lowe struggled and pitched a lot of balls, yet somehow managed to escape from trouble like Houdini in several innings. There was a point that I couldn’t believe the game was still just 2-0…it seemed like it should be much worse than that. Texas continued to put runners on base throughout the game, and they have a very dangerous lineup, but the Indians managed to minimize the damage. I also give them credit for clawing their way back after it looked like they were headed to a shutout.
I was at Friday night’s game as well, and I guess that you can’t win them all, or expect to have such an exciting game end in the Tribe’s favor every night. Once the Indians were able to pull even with the Rangers, you just had to hope that the pendulum had swung the other way and they’d leave with a W. It was disappointing to see them lose a game that they could have put away in the 8th inning, and it was also discouraging to see a bad managerial decision provide the final nail in the coffin.