The Indians had a good opportunity to score some runs in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game with the Texas Rangers. Down 2-1 with one out in the top of the ninth inning, Rangers reliever Sam Dyson walked Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez to load the bases.
Surely this would be the Indians’ big opportunity. A sacrifice fly or another walk would tie the game. A hit would give the Indians the lead. But it was not to be. Aided greatly by home plate umpire John Tumpane, who called a pitch a strike even though it was at least six inches off the plate, Dyson struck out pinch-hitting Tyler Naquin for the second out of the inning. He then got Abraham Almonte to hit a routine pop fly to center for the final out. Indians lose, 2-1.
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing series (the Rangers took three out of four) and a disappointing road trip (the Indians went 2-5). The only bright spot in Sunday’s game was the pitching of Danny Salazar. He went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks. Granted, that’s not exactly the kind of outing where the people from Cooperstown call you up and ask for the cap you wore so they can put it on display in the Hall of Fame, but compared to the way Salazar had been pitching in recent weeks, it was a gem. Oh, and did I mention that Salazar struck out 10 batters? Salazar seems to have gotten his control back, and that is a good thing indeed. It’s bad enough that the Tribe has to worry about Josh Tomlin. Having Salazar take a step in the direction of pitching the way he pitched earlier in the season has got to bring some relief to Terry Francona as he looks forward to October.
But of course there is still much baseball to be played before our postseason dreams become a reality, and if the offense doesn’t get back on track and stay there, our October experience may be a brief one. No one expects the Indians to score 12 runs a game every night the way they did on Friday, but they won’t get very far with these one-run outputs. The Indians have scored one run, or NO runs, in six of their last seven games. And not even the best pitching rotation in the league will get you very far with that kind of production.
Fortunately, the Tribe plays their next ten games at Progressive Field, where they can be expected to hit much better. The home stand begins on Monday with three games with the hapless Minnesota Twins. Let’s hope they can take at least two out of three from the Twins to get things started.
And I’d be remiss if I failed to thank the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who gave the Detroit Tigers a 5-0 beating on Sunday, thus keeping the Tigers from gaining a game on the Indians, who remain 4.5 games in front in the AL Central.