Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera each had spectacular two-RBI hits and the Indians pitching staff combined for 16 strikeouts as the Indians defeated the White Sox 7-2 before 30,972 at Progressive Field.

The atmosphere at Progressive Field already has a “playoff feel” – a stark contrast from the mundane sub-10,000 crowds that filled the Jake at the beginning of this month.

Danny Salazar earned the victory for the Indians, pitching 5.1 innings while recording eight strikeouts.  Salazar made only one mistake, and that was leaving a fastball over the plate that turned into a Avisail Garcia solo home run in the second inning. The rest of the staff recorded eight more strikeouts in the final 3.2 innings, including two big ones in the ninth from Justin Masterson.  Masterson, who received an overwhelmingly positive response as he took the field, looked dominant while facing the overmatched White Sox batters.  Whatever role that Masterson fills for the rest of the season remains to be seen, however, he looked sharp tonight.

The Indians got things going in the second with a Drew Stubbs reach on error and Michael Brantley RBI single, each plating one run.  However, what really pushed the Indians ahead was Nick Swisher’s two-run home run in the fifth inning, his 21st of the season.  Swisher watched as the ball majestically carried into the Indians bullpen with the crowd in a frenzy behind him.  Swisher has been red hot in September, batting .272/.365/.519 with 6 HR and 15 RBI.

Drew Stubbs recorded his 43rd RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, knocking White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod out of the game after 5.2 innings.  Axelrod was ineffective, allowing five runs (three earned), two walks and tallying only one strikeout.

The Indians weren’t done there, however, as Asdrubal Cabrera put the game away for good with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning of reliever Jeff Petricka.  Cabrera finished 2-4 and lifted his season OBP to .300.

Notes:

Tonight was the final home game of the season for the Indians, and they finished with a 51-30 (.630) record at home.  Final season attendance is 1,572,926 fans, an average of 19,419 and a 9.8% decrease from 2012.  The Indians improved to 14-0 in September when scoring four or more runs. This is the 14th straight time that the Indians have defeated the White Sox, and they finish the season 17-2 against Chicago.  Danny Salazar had his foot stepped on in the sixth inning on a bang-band play at first and left after allowing another hit.

The Rangers and Rays both won on Wednesday night, therefore, the Wild-Card picture looks as follows:

1. Tampa Bay  89-69 +1

2. Cleveland     88-70  –

3. Texas          87-71  1 GB

4. Kansas City 83-74 4.5 GB

The Indians will finish the season in Minnesota with a four-game series.  Zach McAllister (9-9, 3.88) will toe the hill against rookie phenom Andrew Albers (2-4, 3.98 ERA) tomorrow night starting at 8:10 pm EST.

In more personal news, the Indians need to finish 3-1 in their upcoming four game series to match my 91-71 prediction at the beginning of the season.  Let’s go Tribe!

 

9 Comments

  • Sean Porter says:

    They’ve already exceeded my pre-season prediction by eight wins. I never thought the pitching would have held up for the whole season.

    • David White says:

      There were people saying no one in the rotation would finish under a 4.00 ERA other than Masterson. Even I didn’t think this group would perform like this, but I knew they had it in them.

      • Sean Porter says:

        Ubaldo was coming off a season where I believe he was rated the worst starting pitcher in the A.L, or the majors in general.

        Kazmir was coming back from pitching horribly in BFE independent ball.

        Myers was godawful in Spring Training, the result of injuries that we didn’t know of then.

        McAllister showed promise, but was unproven.

        I think it was fair to worry about the starting rotation before the season… Haha!

  • Gvl Steve says:

    We have TWO comeback player of the year candidates in our rotation, not to mention Raburn in the lineup. We have conjured the ghosts of Juan Gonzalez, Scott Elarton and Kevin Millwood and hit the reclamation jackpot. What are we, 18-6 this month? Are you kidding me? Even your boy Swisher is playing like a champ. Who am I going to complain about now?

  • Jeremy says:

    This has been an amazing summer. You know, that game against the White Sox 2 nights ago (i.e., Papa G HR) was really a microcosm of the entire season. Start off a little slow, come back and take the lead, blow it in horrific fashion, and then pull it out in the end via a miracle. 91 wins huh? I’ll give you some props, for I was WAY more pessimistic about our chances than that. I called for around 83 to 85 wins, finishing just outside of the playoff race. Clearly, the exceeded my expectations as well.

  • Luis Baca says:

    What would happen if the the tribe and the rangers have the same record at the end of the year. Would they have a playoff to play the rays, or do they just tie break off of some statistics?

    • Kevin says:

      We play a 163rd game of the regular season against Texas at Home, we won the season series. Its possible but I like our chances of winning that game. I think that the Los Angeles Angels are real excited about their opportunity to knock the Rangers out of the playoffs though and they will.

  • NHTribeFan says:

    So nice to see Masty out there in the 9th. Finally a 9th without any doubles, only a single walk, and pounding the strike zone. Even though it wasn’t a save situation, he pitched like it was a one run game.