This weekend could’ve the time been when the baseball world takes notice that Indians appeared poised to make a run at the AL Central crown. Instead, the Tribe’s playoff hopes may now be hanging in the balance before the calendar flips to May.
The Indians went into Detroit and swept the Tigers in Detroit for the first time since 2008, but the mood is certainly tempered. Once Carlos Carrasco went to cover first base only to tumble into a heap during the bottom of the third inning, you could sense a crushing pall being hurled to earth. The reported left hamstring injury only appeared even more dire as trainers helped Carrasco down to the clubhouse, unable to put weight on the leg. It immediately conjured memories of Yan Gomes’ injury last season in which the Indians’ never fully recovered from the loss. It feels like some sort of cruel fate or destiny, but it is the hand that the Indians are dealt.
Even the Tigers’ starter Shane Greene fell victim to the premature injury lift with a blister on his throwing hand. STO had a nifty slo-mo shot of a spot of blood on the ball.
(The Tigers using blood to doctor balls? What kind of chicanery is this? More on this in a sec.)
But with Carrasco’s injury comes an opportunity, and Trevor Bauer had an in-game audition that could serve him well. Bauer went for a very strong 3.1 innings giving up two runs (that left-fielder Jose Ramirez just came up inches short in snagging) with four strikeouts while walking just one. If the Indians’ coaching staff decides to reinsert him into the rotation, he’s certainly an easy fix. And if Bauer finally blossoms into what the Indians hope he’ll still be, this might be nothing more than a speedbump.
Carrasco fiasco aside, the game felt like the Tribe were never in danger. That is, until Brian Shaw came into the game and made things interesting again. Shaw appears to be the “box of chocolates” of the bullpen this year. You just never know what you’re getting from him. Unfortunately, what we’ve gotten most from him is heart palpitations, as he loaded the bases for a resting Miguel Cabrera.
In between all of this is Tigers manager Brad Ausmus being apparently willing to try anything to spark his slumbering team. He called attention to Shaw’s wedding ring as a potential ball scuffer. Here’s the thing: Shaw is right-handed. His ring is inside his glove. It was a seemingly desperate tactic straight out of the tactic rolodex of fellow Detroit Pistons
whiner coach Stan VanGundy.
Whatever the reasoning, Shaw did Shaw things, leaving Captain Jeff Manship to clean up the mess. And clean up he did, as he eventually got the former MVP to foul out.
From that point on, it was smooth sailing. The Indians can head into Minneapolis tonight with momentum and Michael Brantley apparently all ready to go. But who knows yet at what cost to one of their most indispensable weapons? Fingers crossed.