When the Indians finished August at 5-24, statistically the worst month in franchise history, I figured that could be considered hitting rock bottom. How much worse could you get, when you’ve just had the worst month this team has seen in its 111 year history? The one positive thing I looked to was the fact that at least they may not end up in last place in the AL Central – that’s what the Minnesota Twins were for. The Indians lost 3 of 4 to the Twins this weekend though, after they dropped tonight’s series finale 7-2. This means that now the Indians and Twins are both tied at 59-82 in the basement of the AL Central. Fans can take solace in the fact that they probably won’t end up with the worst record in all of baseball, since that title will go to the Houston Astros.
There’s not much positive that you can take away from this game, except for the fact that Lonnie Chisenhall homered in his return from the DL. You may remember that Chisenhall also homered in his first game in the majors this year, so I guess he likes to make a splash once he arrives. Justin Masterson was off to a brilliant start – neither pitcher surrendered a hit until Joe Mauer singled in the bottom of the fourth. The Indians were able to tie the game in the top of the sixth off of a Carlos Santana sacrifice fly, so it still had a 1-1 score as late as that point. The Twins came storming back in the bottom of the inning and never let up; Masterson, the “ace” was charged with 6 of the Twins’ 7 earned runs. (Frank Herrmann was charged with an earned run as well). The Indians only managed 3 total hits – the Chisenhall homer, a Michael Brantley single, and a Brent Lillibridge single. Samuel Deduno pitched a great game, but I feel like I’m always saying something like that where the Indians’ offense is concerned.
The Indians are off to Texas after this, and will face another contender this weekend (the only team the Indians seem able to beat) when Detroit comes to town.
In other news:
– At this point, I have no idea why the Indians called Thomas Neal up to the majors, particularly when the Akron Aeros are in the playoffs. I mentioned in a piece last week that I was a fan and was really pulling for Neal. In order for me to pull for Neal, he has to actually play in a ballgame. He was in the lineup on Sunday, September 2, the day after he was called up. He hasn’t been seen since. If you weren’t going to put him in the lineup, why not leave him in Akron? As someone pointed out on our Facebook page, Neal likely still prefers to travel with a major league club and get major league pay and benefits. I just wish he actually played in a game every few days or so. You may not want to lose Russ Canzler’s fairly hot bat, but you don’t have to put Canzler in the outfield; he can play first or DH.
– The Indians and Twins may be battling for the basement in the AL Central, but there’s one thing the Twins have that the Indians don’t – a dangerous middle of the lineup. I was listening to the radio broadcast for a couple of innings tonight and Tom Hamilton mentioned that the Indians have nothing to compare to the trio of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham. Granted, Mauer and Morneau have dealt with injuries over the past few years, but when healthy are still a dangerous combo. One thing the Indians do have going for them – multiple players with double digit home run totals. I saw this tweet a week ago, that said the Indians were third when it came to the number of players with double digit home run totals, behind just the Yankees and the Athletics. The Indians have seven players with double digit home run totals (if you count Shelley Duncan and Travis Hafner) – Shin-Soo Choo (15), Carlos Santana (15), Asdrubal Cabrera (14), Jason Kipnis (13), Casey Kotchman (12), Shelley Duncan (11), Travis Hafner (11). On the radio, they pointed out that Hafner is technically still a big power threat…if he’s healthy. For as much time as he’s spent on the DL, he still has 11 home runs. To put Choo and Santana’s home run totals in perspective, 15 homers is enough to make them tied for 50th in the AL. If you expand that to all of MLB, they’re tied for 97th. I should point out that Willingham currently has 33 home runs, 6th in the AL.
– I got my season ticket renewal package today, and noticed that they’re starting a new program where you can earn “points.” I was curious as to how one earned “points” so I tried out the calculator on the Indians web site. It looked like it had to do with how many games were in your package, what section it was, if you’d switch to paperless tickets, etc. There was one asking how many away games you listened to/watched…I don’t know how they would prove that, unless they’re going to announce some kind of code during the broadcast. After I looked at the points, I decided to look at what kind of prizes you could earn with “points.” One that was on the web site, and pushed in the packet mailed to me, was to attend a press conference next year with manager Manny Acta. Immediately my mind went to, “Is this some kind of code? Are they saying that he’s definitely coming back, no matter what?” Then I started to think that they can’t really say “Come to a press conference with the manager, whoever the manager may be.” The other thing that caught my attention is that you get extra discounts/points if you renew your package early, by October 5. Since my brain is obviously in conspiracy theory mode today, I immediately thought “What in the world is going down on October 6, that they want to make sure you renew by then?” (The last regular season game is October 3). There’s likely nothing strange afoot, but I still am letting my paranoia run wild at this point.
– As if tonight’s Indians game wasn’t bad enough news, the Lake County Captains also lost tonight 13-6. This, unfortunately, ends their playoff run but they should be congratulated on a great season. The Akron Aeros are still alive in the playoffs after they came back from an 0-2 game deficit to defeat the Bowie Baysox 3 games to 2 in the 5 game series. Their next series starts tomorrow night against the Trenton Thunder at Canal Park.