Ah, mid-week noon games. Is there anything better?
I know the Businessman’s Special isn’t everyone’s favorite date on the schedule, but it’s always held a special place in my heart. There’s just something about playing hooky from work or school to sneak down to the ballpark that makes it almost a guilt-free transgression. Whether you’re Ferris Bueller malingering the plague, a grave shift worker cutting into your precious sleep, or just a guy with time to kill like me, midweek noon games just feel different somehow.
Well, this game certainly felt different, I’ll give it that.
After 11 failed attempts, the Detroit Tigers managed to turn the tables on the Indians. The Tigers took advantage of every break, every error, and every 90mph meatball from my arch nemesis, Josh Tomlin, en route to a lopsided win – their first against the Indians this year.
The game started off well enough, with the Indians scraping out two runs against Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer, one each in the 2nd and 3rd innings. At that point, I admit to thinking the sweep was in the bag, and the Indians would continue to live a semi-charmed life against their rivals from the Motor City. Even though Jason Kipnis‘ would-be 3-run home run in the 3rd inning curved just foul at the last second, it didn’t seem to matter – there was no way the Tigers could turn the tide.
Alas, I allowed myself to forget my general distrust of Josh Tomlin. The Little Cowboy, as former manager Manny Acta used to call him, is not an overpowering pitcher, and relies on pinpoint location and opposing batters ‘hitting it where they are.’ To this point in the campaign, he’s done a fantastic job of both, compiling a 9-1 record and leading to some muted rumbles about his all-star candidacy. The heat of a Cleveland summer didn’t care for any of that, however, and the first big blow for the Tigers came in the 4th on a Cameron Maybin home run that just seemed to keep going and going and going and going down the line and just barely grazed the left field foul pole. I was seated about 3 sections away from the pole down the line, and off the bat I thought it was going to be a foul ball near me.
But still, the game at that point was 3-2, and the Indians had shown the ability to score. Just a little hiccup from Tomlin, right? Well, the 5th inning started off well enough, with back to back strikeouts from Tomlin on Jerrod Saltalamacchia and Jose Iglesias — but then the next five Tigers found a way on base (including an error by Francisco Lindor that would have ended the inning), and Nick Castellanos broke the game wide open with a 3-run bomb to straight away center to make the score 8-2.
After Fulmer retired the next six Indians in order, the game was all but over.
Well, actually, there’s a lot to talk about still, including one of the three outs in the fifth inning. The inning started off with a Carlos Santana walk, and Jason Kipnis grounded slowly into a fielder’s choice. Except the umpires called him out on the double play, and then upheld the call (actually, they confirmed the call after replay) despite replays showing Kipnis beating the ball by a solid half-step. Check it out for yourself:
Apparently, if a fielder prevents the runner from touching the bag, they don’t actually have a right to it. That, dear readers, is one of the most idiotic calls I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching baseball. I can’t fathom how that was correct – and if the game wasn’t 8-2 at that point, I’d expect Tito and Kipnis would have gotten rung.
But they didn’t, because the Indians have a nice comfortable lead in the division. And when you have a nice lead in the division, you can afford to take a gross injustice like this in stride – sometimes bounces and long fly balls down the line don’t go your way; sometimes the umpires can get together, look at a replay for 3-plus minutes and still get the call unfathomably wrong. It happens. Oh well, you move on.
The only other thing I need to talk about is Zach McAllister, to whom I gave a pass for his shellacking in Toronto (because he was put in an impossible spot as a reliever). He pitched one third of an inning today, and allowed four runs. He threw more balls than strikes. He was awful. I’d like to know the reason that the Indians front office had for keeping him over Joba Chamberlain (who was better in just about every aspect all season), but all I can do as a casual observer is hope that move doesn’t come back to bite the team.
The rest of the relievers – Tommy Hunter, T.J. House, and Jeff Manship, all looked pretty good in their innings of work. The score was lopsided, but it was mostly Josh Tomlin having a Bad-Josh-Tomlin start, and Zach McAllister being unable to even resemble an effective pitcher. It happens.