A small child could probably handle the math needed to tally the total Indians hits over the past two games. Because the number is two. When they have two runs over 18 innings, I criticize them; I’m not even sure what to do with two hits. I mean, I can only say the phrase “this is garbage” before it starts to lose most of its meaning. There’s a small, cranky, sleep-deprived part of me that wanted to just type “they suck” and then hit post tonight. Because if they’re not going to bother putting together a game that I actually want to watch, why should I put any effort together writing about it? Honestly, this is just one of those games where I need to vent to keep my head from exploding.
The one person that stays off of my personal tirade list – Corey Kluber. What more could you ask him to do? One run on six hits, lasting into the eighth inning. I mean, I guess I could criticize him for not getting a hit, since he’s batting in an NL park. But seriously, he can’t do *everything* and that’s why he has teammates that are supposed to be competent hitters. Supposed to be. As for Kluber’s opposition, Dan Haren has had an “okay” but not a great season. The Dodgers bullpen has basically been a metaphoric can of kerosene being dumped onto a fire. I never want to take away from pitchers, but pretty much anyone looks like Cy Young against the Indians. I could almost forgive them for King Felix; I can’t forgive them for the Haren-Brian Wilson-Kenley Jansen triumvirate. You should at least be able to get more than one hit out of those three, even if they’re able to maintain the shutout. There was only one walk, so the Indians had exactly two base runners all night.
What should have been another bright spot to this game – the fact that you could listen to Vin Scully call an Indians game. Many of you probably know who I’m talking about, but if you’ve never had the opportunity to listen to a Scully-called game, I can’t recommend it enough. He’s 86-years-old and has been involved in calling Dodgers games since 1950 – when they were still in Brooklyn. He works alone with no color guy, but to me he’s more entertaining and interesting than most pairs of announcers. Scully tells amazing stories as he gives the play-by-play; like tonight he talked about how Michael Brantley used to love to hang around Rickey Henderson in the locker room when he was a kid when his dad Mickey Brantley would bring him to games. Earlier this season Scully told a charming story about how Torii Hunter’s dad was addicted to crack. He talked about how he once raced Jackie Robinson on ice skates, and when Matt Kemp was screaming “that’s BS” (he said the word) during a fight with the Padres, Scully translated to “that’s fertilizer.”
Why I said Scully “should have been” a bright spot to this game, is because he didn’t call much of the radio broadcast tonight. I fall into MLB TV’s blackout rules, so I couldn’t watch the television broadcast and had to mute the TV and go with the radio instead. Since Scully has pulled back on his announcing some (he is 86 after all), he typically only calls home games, and a few select west coast away games. The second half of the radio broadcast was called by Charley Steiner and Rick Monday, who I don’t necessarily dislike, but aren’t exactly Vin Scully (they often call the non-Scully away games). So I didn’t even have the comfort of Scully’s soothing voice to help me tolerate this dumpster fire of a game. And since the Indians only play the Dodgers (at most) once every three years, and because Scully wouldn’t travel to a series in Cleveland, this is a very rare opportunity to hear one of my favorite broadcasters call an Indians game. It’s like some demented form of baseball Brigadoon, where Scully emerges from the mist every 3-7 years to use his melodic voice to talk about my favorite team. So only half a game of Scully tonight just adds to the pile ‘o disappointment at this point.
Back to the game itself…please forgive me for drifting off course, but I’d really rather talk/think about anything else on earth instead of this game. Who was the lucky contestant to get the Indians’ lone hit? Michael Bourn, in the third inning. And it was barely even a hit – it was an infield single to the shortstop, and Bourn was initially called out. Francona challenged and won, so Bourn ended up on first with two outs. It was *the only* threat the Indians had the entire game, as David Murphy had walked and was on second. When Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate, all I could think was “he’s going to swing at the first pitch and pop it straight up, isn’t he?” He did swing at the first pitch, but (luckily?) swung right through it. He eventually struck out looking, which wasn’t that surprising either. The Indians have now lost back-to-back one-hit shutouts for the first time since 1914. Maybe even before that, but at least to 1914.
Vin Scully made several good points about how these two teams are almost the inverse of each other. Coming into tonight, the Indians had lost 7 of their last 10, while the Dodgers had won 7 of their last 10. The Dodgers have had incredible starting pitching this season, while their bullpen has been a nightmare. For the Indians, they’ve found the bullpen somewhat reliable, while their starters, as a whole…much less so. Tonight’s win nudged the Dodgers a half game past the San Francisco Giants and into first place. With the loss…well, the Indians still maintain their hold on third place (for now) although they’re now 7.5 games back of Detroit after they beat Oakland on a walk-off grand slam by Rajai Davis.
The Indians and Dodgers are basically two teams going in opposite directions, and it will get no easier for the Tribe the next two games. Dan Haren likely represented their best chance to win – he was 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Tomorrow they will face Josh Beckett, who is 5-4 with a 2.11 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with a no-hitter thrown earlier this year. The Indians have had some success against him, but most of that came during the 2012 season, one of Beckett’s down years. (The Indians hit .538/.538/.565 off of him, and he had a 27.00 ERA against them that season). The only other positive I can see against Beckett is that he’s struggled some in two interleague appearances this year against Detroit and the White Sox (AL batters have hit .326/.375/.628 off of him, and he has a 5.40 ERA against them). Then in the series finale the Indians will face Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is 9-4 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
Hey, I guess I’ll look at the bright side – there’s really no place for the Indians to go but up at this point. Unless they get no-hit next. (Laughter turning to crying).