Before I recap tonight’s game, I want to mention my friend Ben. We’ve been friends for over eighteen years, and baseball has been a big part of our friendship. We first became friends in high school. This was the mid-1990′s and the Indians ruled Cleveland in a way that people too young to remember cannot possibly understand. Ben was the commissioner of the first fantasy league I ever played in (I took Mike Piazza in the first round, and later selected the Yankees new closer at the time, Mariano Rivera). We worked at various summer jobs together throughout high school and college and debated what was going well with the Tribe, what they needed to improve on, and which Indians we wanted to become stranded on a deserted island. Tonight, as I was beginning to write this recap, I got a call from Ben telling me his father had passed away. Things like this make sports seem pretty insignificant, but I hope that Ben can find solace in all of the Indians games he watched with his father and the rounds of golf they played together.
After taking a pounding at the hands of the Kansas City Royals on Independence Day, the Indians were able to get back on the winning side of things behind the pitching of T.J. House and some timely hitting throughout the order tonight. The Royals struck first when Lorenzo Cain doubled, stole third, and scored on Eric Hosmer’s groundout to start the first inning. The scored stayed that way until the bottom of the third, when Michael Bourn homered to right off former Indian Jeremy Guthrie to tie the game at one. Michael Brantley then singled, and scored on a Jason Kipnis double to left-center to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. After Lonnie Chisenhall singled home Kipnis, the Indians had a 3-1 lead after three innings. The Tribe tacked on three more runs in the fifth when Nick Swisher singled home Carlos Santana and Kipnis, and David Murphy singled home Chisenhall to make it 6-1 in favor of the home team.
The Royals then began to climb back in it when Hosmer scored on an Omar Infante fielder’s choice in the sixth inning and Danny Valencia homered in the seventh. However the Indians came right back in the bottom of the inning when Bourn walked, Asdrubal Cabrera singled, and Brantley drove in Bourn with his third hit of the night. They Royals threatened in the bottom of the ninth after they loaded the bases with no one out, but Cody Allen struck out Cain and was able to get Hosmer to hit into the game ending 4-6-3 double play.
This was a solid team win for the Indians. Every starter except George Kottaras had at least one hit and the offense looked as balanced and effective as it has at any point all season. T.J. House was solid in pitching six and two-thirds innings while giving up three runs to earn his first career victory in the major leagues. There was some concern as Michael Bourn left the game with some tightness in his left hamstring. Manager Terry Francona said the tightness is not in the same spot where Bourn had offseason surgery and he will be evaluated tomorrow.
The Indians now sit at 42-44 just past the halfway point of the season. While it’s hard to see them as buyers as the trade deadline approaches, it’s even harder for me to see them as sellers. This is mainly because they best players on the roster are their younger players who should be part of the future, while the veterans have been the ones who have struggled. Typically a team that gives up on the season trades their veterans for promising young players. No team trades their promising young players for other who players who have proven even less. My current gut instinct is that the Indians don’t make any major moves before the deadline, but this could change quickly depending on how the next few weeks go for the team.