Did you ever have the kind of weekend that was so lousy, so disappointing, so utterly craptastic, that the only thing even remotely good about it was knowing that you could complain about it to your friends and colleagues? That’s the kind of weekend the Cleveland Indians just had.
Going into Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers, the Indians had to figure that they had to win at least two out of three games to keep their playoff hopes alive. But that was not to be, as they lost on Friday and on Saturday. So they KNEW they had to win on Sunday. A Tigers sweep would just about sound the death knell for any Indians postseason hopes.
So what happened? Oh, come on. You already KNOW what happened. Despite being down by a run in the seventh inning, the Tigers beat the Indians on Sunday by a score of 6-4. In the seventh, Bryan Shaw, who has been an effective set-up man for the Tribe all season long, did the same thing he did on Saturday: he gave up a two-run jack to give the Tigers the lead. This time the homer came from the bat of Ian Kinsler. Shaw was atrocious on Sunday, giving up three hits and a walk and throwing a wild pitch while recording two outs, and those came on a hard-hit liner to Carlos Santana, who caught the ball and doubled up the runner on first.
The Tigers tacked on two more in the eighth inning. C.C. Lee began the inning by giving up a single and a walk. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, the Indians planned to intentionally walk the next batter, Kinsler again. Indians catcher Chris Gimenez moved out from behind the batter’s box to allow Lee to throw four lobs for the intentional walk, but Lee managed to throw the second pitch two feet to the left of Gimenez’s mitt, allowing the runner on third to score and the runner on second to advance to third. They did complete the intentional walk, but the next batter hit a grounder to the infield, allowing another run and giving the Tigers a 6-3 lead.
The Indians tried to mount a comeback in the ninth. They did push across another run when Michael Brantley singled and Carlos Santana doubled. Jason Kipnis followed with a walk, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of DH Yan Gomes. But Gomes hit into a textbook 6-4-3 double play. Tribe manager Tito Francona sent Jason Giambi to the plate as a pinch-hitter, hoping that the old man could tie the game with a home run. But it was not to be, as Giambi hit a fly ball to left, ending the game, the series, and any realistic hope the Indians might have had to play baseball in October this year.
Oh, sure, mathematically speaking, the Tribe isn’t dead yet. They have 14 games left to play this season. Maybe if they could win like 12 or 13 of those games, they might get a wild card berth. But realistically, they’re done. This weekend was their last, best chance to show everybody what they’re made of. And now, sadly, we have our answer.