Three game sweeps are pretty difficult, especially against good teams. Four game sweeps, obviously, are even more so – if the Indians would have been able to pull off a win today, it would have been the first time in team history they took a four-game sweep of the Tigers in Detroit. Even though there were some frustrating moments in today’s game, I can’t bee too angry at the Indians. To come tearing out of the All Star break to take three of four from the division leader, in their home park, is still a great accomplishment.
Josh Tomlin got into a bit of trouble right off the bat, when he surrendered a lead-off double to Austin Jackson, then followed it up immediately with an RBI single by Ian Kinsler. Kinsler would eventually score on a sacrifice fly, but that second run could have been prevented, in my opinion. Ryan Raburn, admirably, tried to nail Jackson at home. He likely had no chance, because his arm isn’t nearly as strong as Michael Brantley‘s out in left, and because Jackson has a fair amount of speed. By throwing home, it allowed Kinsler to get to second with nobody out. Two sacrifice flies later, he scores. If you would have thrown the ball to second and kept Kinsler at first, you likely leave the first inning down just 1-0. This would have been a bigger deal if the Indians had lost by just a run; unfortunately Tomlin gave up a 2-run home run to Torii Hunter in the fourth inning to make it 4-0. The offense slumbered today, with the Indians’ lone run coming from a Yan Gomes solo home run.
The Indians had just four hits today, and Gomes had two of them. Mike Aviles and Jason Kipnis were the only other players to get hits. Drew Smyly did walk a few people, but the Indians were never able to get anything going with runners on base. You’re not going to win too many games when you score just one run. Smyly, like many left-handed pitchers this season, just baffled the Indians’ offense.
The bright spot to today’s game was the bullpen. (I feel like I’ve typed that phrase a lot this season). I have to admit, when I saw C.C. Lee entering the game in the bottom of the fifth with two on and one out, I groaned. I saw a replay of the rookie Austin Adams‘ outing last weekend against the White Sox, where he came into a difficult situation and made it even worse. However, with runners on second and third, Lee got both Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera to strike out. When Cabrera came to the plate with first base open, there was immediate discussion on whether or not they should just walk him. That’s the bad thing about the Cabrera – Victor Martinez tandem, you basically just pick your poison. Lee going after Cabrera and striking him out was very impressive to me.
Lee ran into trouble in the sixth inning, when he faced a bases loaded situation with just one out. This time, Kyle Crockett would get the opportunity to play the hero. Even though he wasn’t facing hitters of the Cabrera-Kinsler variety, he still got Alex Avila and Andrew Romine to strike out to end the inning. This was huge for the Indians, who have scored tons of runs in the seventh inning this season, and could hopefully soon enter a rather porous Detroit bullpen. Unfortunately, the offense still couldn’t get anything going, even against shaky closer Joe Nathan.
Austin Adams got a chance at redemption today, after his initial shaky outing last weekend. He got Austin Jackson, Ian Kinsler, and Miguel Cabrera out 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth and was relieved by Marc Rzepczynski. Adams allowed the Tigers to add one more run to bring the score to 5-1, but unfortunately it really didn’t matter at that point. The offense was pretty much done for the day.
The Indians will now travel to Minnesota and Kansas City – a road trip full of divisional foes. The Indians managed to pull themselves above .500, into second place, and are just 5.5 games behind Detroit. They really need to continue the trend this week against the Twins and the Royals. They can’t afford to take two steps forward, then two steps back.