This weekend, the Kansas City Royals assured that they would win the season series against the Indians, despite the fact that the Indians won 2 of 3. The Tribe made sure to go out with a bang as they pounded out 15 runs on 19 hits, a performance that included a 10-run inning and a grand slam. After stranding 20 runners on base Saturday night, it’s as if they wanted to make sure nobody was left behind on the base paths on Sunday afternoon. After playing a string of “meh” Sunday games, the Indians have really come to life over the past two Sundays.
I had some interesting thoughts about yesterday’s game as I was driving back to Cleveland from Pittsburgh. To briefly explain – I had tickets to Saturday night’s game, but decided to trade them for tickets to Tuesday’s game since I was running in Pittsburgh’s Great Race 5k at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning. I kept thinking that with my luck, Saturday’s game would go extra innings, and I’d have to try and get to Pittsburgh and run on about 3 hours of sleep. For once, I made the exact right choice – the 14 inning game did not end until around midnight. I considered heading to the Pirates game Sunday afternoon after the race, but it was wet and cold and I was exhausted. I figured it would be kind of a depressing day, with the 20th losing season looming and with the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s final hit (# 3,000) before he was killed in a tragic plane accident.
So I had managed to time my drive home so that the Indians game was just starting. Tom Hamilton kept discussing the baffling, uneven performances by Royals starter Luke Hochevar. He had an ERA north of five, but had gone toe to toe with Cy Young candidate David Price recently. It sounded so similar to what we’ve come to expect from many of the Indians starters – a first round draft pick (first overall in 2006, to be exact) that has never really lived up to his potential. And not only that, but he could go from brilliant to terrible in a heartbeat. Even though the bullpen actually gave up the grand slam, two of the runs were charged to Hochevar. Hamilton pointed out that Hochevar had surrendered 27 home runs this year, prior to the start of yesterday’s game. Since the KC bullpen was pretty taxed from Friday and Saturday, it’s no wonder that the Indians were able to continue to add to their total even after Hochevar was pulled. Zach McAllister pitched a solid game and helped provide some relief to the Tribe’s bullpen.
The Royals are a team that Indians fans can probably commiserate with, since they’ve been “rebuilding” for years now, without any tangible results to show for it. Sure, they have some great players on their roster, but it hasn’t translated into winning or contending regular seasons. I guess I was thinking that even though I’ve been really frustrated with the Indians this season, and really down on them at times, it honestly could be worse. At least they made the playoffs in 2007, and came really close in 2005. I couldn’t imagine going 20 years without a season over .500, or to be constantly rebuilding with no playoff appearances in the last 15-20 years to show for it. We’re still probably better off than fans of the Tribe from the 1960s to the 1980s, since there was a lot of misery during those years. As depressing as this season was, at least the Indians were in first place for a brief period of time. It’s not like we declared the season over on May 1. If the Indians don’t find a way to turn things around, we could always end up no better off than fans of the Pirates or Royals. For now, I’m at least thankful that we’ve experienced playoff baseball (and World Series appearances) at some point during Bryce Harper’s lifetime.