The first game got off to a rocky start, as Anderson gave up a leadoff double to Anthony Gose, followed by an RBI single off the bat of Ian Kinsler. A double play helped him get out of the inning with no more damage, though.
The Tigers held that 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth, when Verlander let the first four Indians batters reach base, tying the game at 1-1. With the bases loaded, Verlander retired the next two hitters on popups, but a single from Francisco Lindor drove in two runs and gave the Indians a 3-1 lead. The Tigers got a run back in the sixth. With two outs, the bases empty, and the score 3-2, Anderson made way for Zach McAllister, who proceeded to walk the bases loaded. Fortunately Terry Francona gave McAllister the hook and replaced him with Jeff Manship, who struck out Gose to end the inning. The Tigers gave that run back in the Tribe half of the sixth on an RBI single from Chris Johnson. The Indians tacked on two more runs in the seventh and another in the eighth, and won the game by a score of 7-2. The win put the Indians at the .500 mark for the first time since April 10.
But they would not remain there for long. Just as the Tigers took an early lead in the first game, only to lose, the opposite happened in the second game. Bauer retired the first three Tigers batters in order to start the game, and the Indians jumped to a 2-0 lead when Tigers starter Randy Wolf ran into trouble early on. He gave up three singles and walked two batters, but the Indians just couldn’t get the big hit that would have really put the Tigers into a hole. Wolf threw 50 pitches in the top of the first; fortunately for him, that 50th pitch struck out Tribe catcher Roberto Perez with the bases loaded.
The Tigers tied the game at 2-2 in the third, when Bauer gave up three singles and a walk. In the fourth inning the wheels came off for Bauer, as the first five Tigers batters reached base: single, single, double, walk, single, and hey presto, the Tigers are up 5-2. Exit Bauer in favor of Ryan Webb, who quelled the uprising, but who did allow one of Bauer’s runners to score. The line on Bauer for the evening: 3+ innings pitched, 7 hits, 6 runs (all earned), and 3 walks. That is a very poor start indeed.
The Indians bullpen did nothing to stanch the bleeding, allowing three runs over the last five innings. And the Indians bats were cold, as they got only one hit in the last six innings. The Tigers took the nightcap by a score of 9-2. Here’s a fun fact: the two teams combined to score 20 runs over the two games, but neither game had a home run.
The loss put the Indians at 70-71, a game under .500. They lost half a game to the Texas Rangers in the race for the second wild card slot, as the Rangers pummeled the Oakland A’s on Sunday, 12-4. The Indians are now 4.5 games behind the Rangers, and of course the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels are ahead of the Indians, too.
The Tigers now embark for Minnesota, where they play three games with the Twins. As the Twins are more of a threat to the Tribe’s wild card hopes than the Tigers are, that means that we must become Tigers fans for the next three days. The Indians remain at home, where they will play host to the Kansas City Royals.
When there were 24 games left in the regular season, it was my belief that the Indians would have to go 18-6, .750 ball, in order to get a wild card berth, and even then they might need a break or two in the form of losses by the Rangers, the Twins, and the Angels. The Indians have gone 2-1 since then, which means they’ll need to go 16-5 over the last 21 games to hit my mark. Can they do it? I doubt it. That’s a lot to ask of any team. It could happen, but I wouldn’t bet very much on it.
On a personal note, I had tickets to the Friday game. I work downtown, and so does my adult son, who was supposed to go to the game with me. At 5:30 I picked him up at his workplace and we didn’t even consider going to the ballpark. We figured they’d postpone the game, and we were right. That game was made up on Sunday.
I also had tickets to the Saturday game. For that one, three friends met me at my place, and we drove downtown, parked in a lot owned by my employer, and began to walk to Progressive Field in the rain. We got as far as the Starbucks across from Playhouse Square when we decided we were tired of getting drenched. We went in for some hot chocolate, then decided to walk back to my car, whereupon we drove to an Asian restaurant a mile or two east. We had a delightful dinner, whereupon it was decided that even if they did play the game, it would have to go on without the four of us. I drove back to my place and said goodbye to my friends, who drove back to their respective homes. About 30 or 45 minutes later the Indians finally announced that that game, too, was postponed.
As the Indians and Tigers have no more games scheduled with each other, and as each club has only one more off day until the end of the season—and it’s not the same day—Saturday’s game will most likely not be rescheduled, unless it has playoff implications for either team. If that should be the case, the game will likely be played on Monday, October 5, a day after what would have been the final game of the regular season. Of course, this assumes that there will be no other rained-out games which can’t be easily rescheduled. If there are, and if the Indians need to play one or two more games after the regular season ends in order to see if they can get a wild card berth, then Major League Baseball is going to have one heck of a mess on its hands.