Pulling teeth games are hard to justify.
The calender is running out of days, and yet again, the Indians squander a game they probably should have won.
That razor-thin line between a victory and a disheartening defeat was on full display tonight. Coming into tonight’s game against Oakland, the Indians knew that the Tigers had lost both games of a doubleheader to the Royals, and that both the Orioles and Rangers lost; giving the Indians every bit of extra incentive to gain ground in both the AL Central and Wild Card chases.
Unfortunately for the Tribe’s offense, their late-summer malaise continued. The Indians went an inexcusable 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position (including leaving the bases loaded twice), which hung a tough-luck loss on Justin Masterson (7.2 INN/7 H/3 R/4 SO/ 1 BB). Masterson’s lone major mistake was a flat slider in the first inning that Yoenis Cespedes deposited over the left field wall.
The Indians had A’s starter AJ Griffin (5 INN/4 H/1 UER/3 SO/5 BB) on the hook for the virtually the entire time he was out there, and if they were going good, probably would have blown the doors off early on. But as it goes lately, on a night in which Mark Reynolds made his Yankees debut by hitting his first homer since the Dark Ages, Asdrubal Cabrera continues to swing mightily at anything that isn’t a strike, depreciating his trade value more and more with every dumbfounding strikeout or harmless pop-up. More on this in a second.
With Oakland having taken a late lead, thanks to a disastrous lollipop toss to home by Jason Kipnis, who should have had A’s catcher Stephen Vogt out by ten feet had. I don’t know if it was plain laziness or a lack of a grip on the ball, or if breezes off of the bay decided to flick his fingers, or if (enter pathetic and useless excuse here)…
Regardless, it was an awful throw. To his credit, he knew it as soon as the ball fluttered out of his hand. We saw a lot of frustrated expressions tonight.
The Indians still had a shot against A’s closer Grant Balfour, who didn’t appear to be as sharp tonight. He gave up a walk to Carlos Santana (who was lifted for Mike Aviles) and Michael Brantley followed with a single. All the Indians need is a measly single to tie this thing up.
Of course, when you’ve been a black hole for as long as Asdrubal Cabrera has been this year, of course you’re going to finally square a ball up that is sucked up as if there is a vacuum in the third baseman’s glove. And of course Aviles gets caught two far off second. When you’re going this bad, any other outcome is a jaw-dropper.
Game over. The Indians now sit six games behind the Tigers (and only a half-game up on the Royals), and remain 4.5 back of the A’s for the second Wild Card.
But I guess it’s only fair that the A’s steal one after what happened after Review-Gate. But considering all of the outcomes that happened before tonight’s game started, it’s another bitter pill to swallow for a team that still appears to have not grasped the enormity of their situation. Too many mistakes tonight.
And much too late for us to sit through it.
Ubaldo Jimenez will go tomorrow against Dan Straily.
W: Sean Doolittle (4-4); L: Justin Masterson (13-9); S: Grant Balfour (31)