The other day my friend Keith sent me a short message via Facebook: “Happy doing what we’re doing.” He knew I would recognize that as a lyric and song title from the 1970s pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz. I like the song, although I must admit the chorus won’t keep the likes of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen up at night:
Happy doing what we’re doing
Happy doing it right
Keep on doing what we’re doing
So long as the feeling is right
After the Indians beat the White Sox today for their third consecutive win, I thought about that song, and I realized that it sums up the way I feel about watching the team over the last couple of weeks. The Indians haven’t been playing perfect ball over that period, but by and large they’re doing the things they need to do to win games.
Jason Kipnis, who’s having a great month of June, reached base in three of four plate appearances today, going 2 for 3 with a walk. His big hit came in the sixth inning, a two-run homer to right, which tied the game at 3-3. Nick Swisher, whose 9th-inning home run gave the Indians the game-winning RBI in the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader, provided a similar service today, as his 8th-inning single up the middle gave the Tribe a 4-3 lead, and that proved to be the final score.
Indians manager Terry Francona surely had hoped that starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez would work deep into the game, considering that the bullpen accounted for 12 innings of work in the past 24 hours. But it was not to be. Jimenez lasted only five innings, allowing three runs, all of them earned. He gave up nine hits and four walks, and struck out eight. The fifth inning was particularly rocky, as Jimenez gave up three hits and two walks, making the score 3-1 in favor of the White Sox. He got two strikes on the next batter, catcher Tyler Flowers, who then took the count to 3-2 before finally striking out.
In the sixth inning, Jimenez was replaced by Joe Martinez, who had been called up from Columbus on Saturday. Making his first major league appearance of 2013, Martinez got the job done, giving up one hit in the sixth and one in the seventh, but allowing no runs. Thanks to the Indians rallying as they did in the eighth, Martinez was credited with the win. Joe Smith retired all three batters he faced in the eighth, and Chris Perez did the same in the ninth, earning his seventh save.
If I may get back to Brinsley Schwarz for a minute: the album on which “Happy Doing What We’re Doing” appears is titled “Nervous On The Road.” That certainly can’t be said about the Indians on this road trip so far. After splitting a four-game series with the Orioles, they’ve now taken the first three against the White Sox, thus assuring a series victory, and giving themselves a chance for a sweep if they win on Sunday. So far they’re 5-2 on the road trip, with four games left to play (they play three against the Royals in Kansas City next week). If they split the remaining four games, they’ll have had a 7-4 record on the trip, which is what I had hoped they could do. Even only one win would give them a winning record for the trip. But the way the Indians have been playing lately, I think they can do better than that.
Adding to the day’s enjoyment, the Tigers lost 4-3 today to the Tampa Rays, thanks to a 10th-inning walk-off single from Yuniel Escobar. The Indians are now only one game out of first place in the AL Central.
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This has nothing to do with the Indians, but I would like to note that earlier today, the Royals designated outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment. He was having a dreadful season for the Royals, hitting 209/.250/.324 (57 OPS+) with three home runs in 58 games.
I bring this up because IPL co-owner Stephanie once pointed out to me that when he played in the outfield, Francoeur seemed to delight in touching himself. Constantly. In the final days of the 2012 season, I attended an Indians-Royals game along with Stephanie, and I got to confirm this observation for myself. This photo was taken at that game.
So long, Frenchy, and best wishes from your friends at IPL.