Let’s be honest: there’s a good chance no one saw this game happen. They may have been too focused on some other event involving a Cleveland sports team. But it happened nonetheless, as a second straight Tribe loss has started to bring back some familiar feelings after the hope generated by the six-game winning streak last week.
The Rangers won this rain-delayed game 4-3 on the strength of two home runs (a three-run homer by Prince Fielder, and a solo shot by Mitch Moreland for the lead). The Indians hit two homers of their own, courtesy of Jason Kipnis and Ryan Raburn and both in the first inning, but it wasn’t enough to outlast the Rangers.
No one really stood out in this game, though Ryan Raburn delivered in making a surprise appearance in the cleanup spot. Danny Salazar was far from the dominant pitcher he has been at times this season; he seemed alternately strong and wild tonight, which is to be expected from a young pitcher.
The bullpen still looks like a wreck, particularly Cody Allen, who has entered the Joe Borowski/Chris Perez zone of shaky closers that Indians fans have grown so accustomed to over the years. Fans may be used to this by now, but that still doesn’t make it great to see Allen struggle like this, especially when the other relief options are so underwhelming.
Matching up Salazar against Wandy Rodriguez should have given the Indians a sizeable advantage, but the hitters were unable to capitalize on that tonight. The weaknesses of the lower half of the lineup have been a theme throughout the season, and tonight’s game was no exception. Nick Swisher looks like a shell of his Yankee self, Yan Gomes doesn’t appear fully healthy, and Jose Ramirez is slugging .238. Kipnis and Brantley can get on base as much as they want, but it won’t matter much if no one is there to knock them in.
The six-game winning streak provided the first hope of the season, bringing the Indians back to the middle of the pack rather than the cellar. But let’s be honest: it came against some pretty bad teams. The Tribe needs to keep this going, and losing the series to the injury-ravaged Rangers could start them sliding back to where they were a week ago. They can’t let that happen.