With Carlos Rodon once again baffling the Indians hitters, I’d become resigned to the fact that they probably weren’t going to mount a rally against him in Saturday night’s game. I had one hope – run his pitch count up, and get into the White Sox bullpen. Unfortunately, the Indians weren’t even working the count for much of the game; Rodon was still at just around 90 pitches entering the bottom of the eighth. There was a sliver of hope when Michael Brantley singled with 2 outs, and Rodon was finally pulled in favor of former Indian Matt Albers. Albers got Lonnie Chisenhall to strike out (on a called third strike that was a bit iffy). That meant it was up to the Indians in the bottom of the 9th to make up the 4-1 deficit against closer David Robertson.
Despite the slim odds, and the fact that Carlos Santana struck out to start the bottom of the 9th, the Indians managed to rally. Yan Gomes doubled, and Chris Johnson followed with an enormous home run to center to make the score 4-3. It was a really nice at-bat from Johnson, who worked it to a 3-2 count and fouled off a number of pitches before taking Robertson deep. So at this point the bases were empty, but there was only one out and the Indians were down by just a run. Abraham Almonte singled, to bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Jerry Sands. The crowd (pretty fired up after the Johnson home run) started to chant Jer-ry, Jer-ry, but alas, he flew out to right for the second out. However, the Indians were now back to the top of the lineup and Jason Kipnis…you have to like those odds. Robertson was scuffling and you had the feeling that they had him on the ropes. Then Almonte was picked off, caught leaning off of first base. It was a fitting end to a pretty miserable game, and likely a metaphor about the Indians’ 2015 season in many ways. But more about that in a bit.
Carlos Carrasco had a decent outing against the White Sox, much better than some of his earlier starts against them. They put up all of their runs against him in the fourth and fifth innings, and without some sloppy play and some bad breaks, he may have made it out of it unscathed. Adam Eaton singled to lead off the fourth, then Jose Abreu hit what was likely a double play ball to shortstop Francisco Lindor. Lindor made a bad throw to Kipnis at second, and everyone was safe; Eaton advanced to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly from Melky Cabrera. A walk and a single, plus a wild pitch, left runners at second and third with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Micah Johnson singled on a pop up that just happened to land in no-man’s land just beyond the infield, which scored the White Sox second run. The next batter, Adam Eaton, grounded to Carrasco, who threw to second to start the double play. Lindor made the out at second, but dropped the ball on the transfer; a third run scored on the play. The White Sox scored their fourth and final run on a Rob Brantly double in the top of the 8th inning. With better luck and no misplays, the White Sox likely only end up with two runs.
There is a reason that I said I felt this game (unfortunately) served as a metaphor for the 2015 season. For much of the game, there was sloppy play and a non-existent offense. You pretty much became resigned to the fact that the Indians weren’t going to be able to do anything, and were probably going to lose the game 4-1 (or maybe 4-2 in the best-case scenario). But then they manage to mount a late comeback in the bottom of the ninth, led by one of the new players that replaced the dead weight from earlier this year. You think to yourself, “holy crap, they’re going to pull this off!” only to get kicked in the teeth when they’re unable to pull it off. (And it ends on something as stupid as someone getting picked off of first). The Indians have mounted this late run for the second wild card, getting all of our hopes up in the process. Maybe you know deep down they’re not going to be able to pull it off, but there’s a part of you that still believes that amazing things can happen, and that the other contending teams have flaws as well. I’m just afraid this exciting run is going to end with the equivalent of a pick-off play at first. So close you can almost taste it, but still too far away. In the end just too little, too late.