For all the rumors that center on the Indians in acquiring a starter at the non-waiver trade deadline, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that bullpen help might be taking a higher priority on Chris Antonetti’s shopping list.
Tonight’s offender is Joe Smith, who surrendered a back-breaking two-run double to the Blue Jays’ Munenori Kawasaki, who sliced the eventual game-winning hit. The deciding run would also score as speedster Emilio Bonafacio scored on Michael Bourn’s bobble. Thanks to Smith’s troubles, Rich Hill was saddled with the tough-luck loss.
Indians’ starter Justin Masterson (6.2 INN/4 H/2 ER/6 SO/5 BB) was solid, but his mechanics seemed off all night and to run out of gas with an out remaining in the seventh. Nursing a 1-0 lead and bases loaded with two outs, he surrendered a two-run single to Bonifacio. Preston Guilmet made his Major League debut in short mop-up duty.
But the story of the game is how the Indians let former Mafia member Esmil Rogers (6 INN/4 H/1 ER/7 SO/3 BB) off the hook early. Now a converted starter for Toronto, the Tribe seemed to have another “small village” of baserunners out there, but once again, failed to get the knockout punch. From there, the stage was effectively set for the Blue Jay’s diminutive second baseman’s late heroics.
This sent a small, but very vocal contingent of Blue Jays fans bonkers.
The Indians made one final push in the bottom of the ninth. And Kawasaki nearly undid his clutch hit. With the Tribe down to their final out, Nick Swisher rolled over on a groundball that Kawasaki air-mailed over first-baseman Adam Lind’s head. Having scored two runs already against Jays’ closer, Casey Janssen, it set the stage for probably the hottest hitter on the team, Michael Brantley.
Who lined out on the first pitch from Steve Delabar, who relieved Janssen. Right to Colby Rasmus.
To make matters worse, the Tribe also fell back to 3.5 games behind the Tigers. They’ll try again to claim the series with a noontime matinee tomorrow with Danny Salazar making his Major League debut against the knuckleballer, RA Dickey.
And I might as well throw this out there: Can Andrew Bynum pitch?
W: Neil Wagner (2-3); L: Rich Hill (0-1); S: Steve Delabar (1)