As I turned on tonight’s series opener against the Angels, I had a certain feeling of nostalgia. Last season, the Tribe had fans feeling good going into July when they were playing favorable baseball. They were playing solid enough to stay within reach of the Tigers in the AL Central race. Considering the roster they had, it was impressive that they had even gotten that far. Although, for the rest of the season, they started to flirt with mediocrity, then took a turn for the worst by free-falling in August. The Tigers, on the other hand, did the exact opposite, playing themselves into the playoffs. This season has had the same feel. The Indians have played some streaky baseball, but have played well enough to warrant some postseason consideration. Lately, however, it seems as though they have began the same free-fall that they plunged into last year. After some long consideration, I was wrong in thinking this. Even though the Tribe took a nosedive late last season, they are still playing much better now than during that same timespan. Sure, they aren’t going to win the division, but they are within reach of a wildcard spot. Last year, Cleveland was 16-39 in July and August. In July, and so far in August of 2013, they are 22-20 going into tonight’s game. Like I said, that type of play is not good enough to win the division, but a wildcard spot is not out of the question. In order to get that wildcard spot, they’re going to have to start beating the teams that they are better than. The Angels are one of those teams.
Taking the mound for the Indians was Zach McAllister. Scheduled to pitch was Danny Salazar, but they flip-flopped him with McAllister. The reasoning for that move is still unclear. Is Salazar on a limited innings count? If that’s the case, is Daisuke Matsuzaka going to take his place? Those could all be meaningless questions, and it really is just a move to get Salazar some extra rest. In the meantime, McAllister pitched well tonight. He went 6.1 innings, giving up one run while striking out 5. Chris Perez couldn’t hold the Angels to one run, giving up a Trumbo home run in the 9th inning.
On the offensive side, the Tribe stayed quiet until the 4th inning. Getting things started in the RBI category was Carlos Santana. The new cleanup hitter roped a single to right center, driving in Jason Kipnis, who singled and then stole second. After a double from Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Giambi hit a sacrifice fly to score Carlos Santana. For how poor of an average Giambi has, the guy has came up with key hits when the Indians have needed him. 23 of his 29 RBIs have come with runners in scoring position. That is exactly the kind of performance that is expected of him, along with his incredible club house presence. Next up to join the party was Lonnie Chisenhall, blasting a two-run bomb. Chisenhall finished the night 2-3 at the plate. The Angels only run came from an RBI single from Mark Trumbo. Nick Swisher stopped the bleeding in that inning with a slick catch and throw home to gun down Trumbo at the plate. Swisher complemented his impressive defensive play with a solo home run to begin the 9th inning.
Looking ahead, the Tribe will continue their 3 game series against the Angels, with Danny Salazar (supposedly) taking the mound.