I can’t think of a better lead-in for tonight other than a quip from the legendary Vin Scully:
“Let’s get back to this Loony Tunes of a ballgame,” he said. Such an apt description from one of baseball’s most revered wordsmiths and storytellers. If you weren’t hardy enough to spend your late night with the rest of us nocturnal beings, you missed a wacky and much wilder game than the score suggested.
But first, The Good: The Indians scored ten runs on thirteen hits. After somehow managing only two hits total in consecutive games, the Tribe wasted no time in turning Josh Beckett (5 INN/6 H/5 ER/5 SO/1 BB) into their personal pinata. The Indians outpaced the output of their last 18 innings in just four batters, highlighted by Michael Brantley’s RBI-double and Lonnie Chisenhall’s two run shot that just barely cleared the right field wall. A 3-0 cushion surely gets Justin Masterson (3 INN/7 H/3 ER/7 SO/3 BB) off and running, right?
The Bad: Justin Masterson. He is The Bad. Everything about him is Bad. His mechanics; his allegedly balky knee; his confidence; his unintentionally creepy goatee. It all just screams for a DL stint and shows just how far he’s fallen from the perch where he was sitting where he was in position to command the big bucks. Little did he, or anybody know, how much he’d end up spending from that $17 million he was seeking before he actually got the money. With every start, he finds himself whittling away his price-tag (one that I felt he was worth, by the way) to the point where the Indians could potentially afford to bring him back. And as a trade piece? Probably not as much as the Tribe brass was hoping once the decision time comes up after the break. But I digress.
The point is, Masterson labored through just three innings with Nick Swisher assisting on dropping a soft toss that accumulated what felt like 5,000 extra pitches after Adrian Gonzalez got the Dodgers on the board. To Swisher’s credit however, he cashed in an two-RBI double that broadened the lead to 5-2; his first RBI hit since his walkoff against the Angels.
It was the fourth inning where the Tribes’ fortunes began to change.
Following Josh Beckett’s second double of the game (!), Dee Gordon hit a bunt single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Tito saw enough. Out goes the Tribe’s beleaguered ace for Kyle Crockett, who is surely pitching way past his bedtime. Crockett immediately gives up an RBI single to Yasiel Puig. What is being said by your humble narrator at this moment are not fit to print. 5-3, Tribe.
Now, I don’t know if you’re a believer in fate or destiny and all that jazz. After all, the old baseball saying is that “momentum is only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” But if there was ever a moment that could clearly be the switch to a full-tilt second half charge towards another meaningful September and possibly beyond, we may be thanking Michael Brantley for lighting the proverbial fuse.
With still no one out after Puig’s single and Gordon’s speed at third and Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, the baseball deities granted a miracle. Gonzalez lined out to Michael Brantley who fired a strike to nail Gordon at home. Puig, as he is carelessly wont to do, tried to force the issue by sneaking into second! OUT! TRIPLE PLAY! GAME GONE BANANAS!
Or is he…?
(Full disclosure: I thought he was safe. Still think he was safe. But I’m not gonna complain about catching breaks.)
So anyway, Tito had to challenge. He won the challenge Don Mattingly was like “NUH UH, I’M CHALLENGING THE PLAY AT THE PLATE.” The play on Gordon seemed to be a heck of a lot clearer than the the Puig tag, but whatever, it was burning a hole in Donnie Baseball’s pocket, and nobody wants to lose out on just your garden variety 7-2-4 inning-ender.
Gomes threw out Gordon as he was trying to steal AND chipped in with a pair of doubles and two RBI. He had an absolute MONSTER night. David Murphy also had two hits and a ribbie as he broke his 1-for-Dark Ages slump.
In the end, the Indians were a cranky bunch, and needed to be a bully. Tonight was one of those nights where we saw something very rare and it worked out in our favor. Let’s hope it’s the catalyst.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the work of the bullpen tonight. Six innings scoreless. They are just as worthy of praise. And we saw Chris Perez, who looked like he’s still got the munchies. (*WINK*)
W: Kyle Crockett (2-0); L: Josh Beckett (5-5)