Well, it had to end sometime. The nine-game win streak was a lot of fun, and couldn’t have come at a better time for the Indians, but it couldn’t last forever.
But that said, the way it ended–a walkoff 3-1 loss to a White Sox team that’s 1-9 in its last 10 and in the middle of trading all of its good players–does sting.
Let’s start with the good: Josh Tomlin was excellent. He’s had a rough year so far, but his peripheral stats–walks, strikeouts, HR allowed, etc.–suggest that he’s been the victim of some bad luck, and may point to a turnaround. Today could be the beginning of said turnaround (as long as his hamstring tightness heals smoothly, that is).
Now, the bad: the maddeningly frustrating version of the Indians’ offense made an unwelcome return, as the team failed to get anything going against a starting pitcher, Carlos Rodon, who came in with an ERA over 6 and the devil’s walk rate of 6.66 per 9. Then two relievers with 5+ ERAs came in… and the Indians still couldn’t buy a run.
More bad: Terry Francona fell victim to a classic manager’s mistake, leaving Bryan Shaw, who is probably the team’s fifth-best reliever, in for the eighth and ninth, in a tie game on the road, while Cody Allen and Andrew Miller sat in the bullpen. The idea that you shouldn’t use your best relievers in a tie game has always confused me–why is protecting a lead that much more important than making sure a tie game stays tied? You have a razor-thin margin of error in a tie game, and yet managers use lesser relievers in these situations than they do with three- or four-run leads.
And the “no closer in a tie game on the road” thing is especially baffling. Why should the location of the game have any bearing on reliever use? Just ask Buck Showalter how that policy paid off for him. And yet almost every manager sticks to this philosophy, even one as progressive with relievers’ roles as Francona.
Anyway, back to positivity: this past week and a half has been incredibly encouraging, especially coming off that disheartening West Coast trip after the All-Star break. One loss hopefully won’t kill this momentum.