I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get a big clinch moment at Progressive Field, given that the Indians clinched on the back of a Twins loss that happened some three hours after the end of the Indians game.
But I’m only a little disappointed, because this has been a race without drama for the last three weeks or so. Even in August, when the Indians were still getting ready to put it all together (and boy did they ever do that, right?), when the Twins and Royals were just a few games back, it was difficult to see the Indians losing the division. Nevertheless, we’re finally here. The Indians have put a bow on the Central Division, and they will play in the ALDS. If they can keep winning and hold off the Astros, they will play the winner of the Wild Card game, which is a huge advantage (especially compared to playing what will likely be Boston).
Anyway, onto the game. Cookie Carrasco didn’t have his best stuff out there, but he gutted through 6.2 innings. He allowed four runs and only struck out five, but that’s what good pitchers do when they don’t have their best pitches. In Cookie’s case, his fastball was just a little too hittable today – he got some swings and misses on his slider, but he wasn’t getting that same good result with his heater. He still got through 6.2, though, and he got the win, so let’s give him some credit.
If Complete Game Cookie is one of Grandma’s chocolate chippers right out of the oven, then Saturday evening Cookie was… one of those dollar store chocolate chip cookies that are much too hard?
Not sure where that analogy was headed, but here’s the lesson: even when Cookie isn’t great, he’s still pretty good. We haven’t seen Oatmeal Raisin Cookie in a while (thank goodness).
With their starter allowing four runs, it was on the shoulders of a slightly-sputtering offense to carry the day, and they certainly did that. The Indians banged out 13 hits, including a double by Lindor (10 straight games with an XBH now, which is amazing), a double by Jay Bruce, and a bomb by Edwin Encarnacion (his 35th).
The play of the game goes to Austin Jackson, who hit a Little League Home Run to blow the game open. With Lindor on second, Ajax ripped a hot shot up the middle, and Lorenzo Cain threw through to home, where the throw was not in time. Catcher Drew Butera tried to get Jackson going to second, but instead threw the ball past Cain (who was out position from the throw home). As a result, Jackson scored easily on a single.
So now we enter the doldrums of the MLB season. The team has clinched, Tito needs to manage their rest. We need to see what Kipnis offers in the outfield (I predict a very short-lived experiment, honestly), and we also need to keep winning (even though we don’t need to keep winning). In 2007, the Indians lost game 6 and 7 to the Red Sox at Fenway, and they were only at Fenway because Eric Wedge rested his players a LOT in the final week. We will never know if the Indians would have held on for the best record, or if it even would have mattered… but that has stayed with me.
The Cleveland Indians, your 2017 Central Division Champions!