Sometimes when I watch or listen to an Indians game, I start to come up with blog post ideas before the final out is made.  Tonight, the major story line appeared to be the lack of production (yet again) from the offense.  It felt like it was a post I’d already written a half dozen times; sloppy play, tons of runners stranded in scoring position, and another pretty strong night from the bullpen.  But then, it all changed.

I almost gave up on this game…several times.  I’m still on vacation, and sometimes it’s a hassle to try and keep a steady feed of the game going.  When the video on my phone app started to freeze, I switched to the radio broadcast instead.  My family and I were heading to dinner, and I was already highly annoyed with the offensive performance…I almost shut the game off after Orlando Cabrera grounded into a double play in the bottom of the 8th.  For some reason, I kept it playing as we entered Souplantation, pressed up against my ear.  Before I knew it, the bases were loaded.  “Oh, they’ll find a way to blow this,” I kept telling myself.  There are some games where I have a hunch something big is going to happen – tonight was not one of those nights.  After Asdrubal Cabrera singled to make it 4-1, Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan made a crack about how Travis Hafner could win it with one swing of his bat…I snorted when they suggested it.

I’m walking along the salad bar, scooping my food out with one hand so I could keep the phone/game pressed up against my ear with my other hand.  When Hafner hit that grand slam, I made quite the scene at the ‘ol salad bar.  The best way I can describe it – did you happen to see Carlos Santana jumping up and down as he awaited Hafner’s arrival at home plate?  I was doing the same thing at the salad bar.  There was some yelling too; I definitely generated some looks.  I still can’t quite believe it.  I was impressed when Hafner hit that 3-run walk-off against Seattle on May 13, and I never thought he’d be able to top that level of drama.  This is some of the magic that’s been missing lately, the Indians that never quit and never say die.  With the way the first 8 innings played out, I never thought I’d see a 5-run 9th, capped by a walk-off grand slam.

Now, it’s time to discuss some of the less exciting parts of this game.  Definitely not as fun as a walk-off grand slam, but when 90% of your game was played pretty poorly it at least deserves some discussion.  Last I heard, Lonnie Chisenhall’s injury was just a facial contusion and nothing serious.  (Talk about déjà vu – it seems like just yesterday I was watching Shin-Soo Choo get nailed by a pitch in San Francisco).  The Indians already have their share of injuries and trips to the DL this year; I’m pretty sick of it at this point!

Zach McAllister was less than impressive, but he seemed pretty nervous and shaky through most of his appearance.  He always was pitching from behind in the count, but he battled and managed to get himself out of a bases loaded situation in the top of the 4th inning.  I still feel like his start could’ve been worse…it would’ve made it impossible for the Indians offense to make their spectacular comeback in the 9th inning.  I didn’t realize that Cord Phelps was optioned back to Columbus to make room for McAllister – it was time.  Phelps did not look ready for prime time yet, so hopefully he’ll get some innings in at Triple-A and can help in the future (or serve as a trade chip).

The Indians were only 2-10 with runners in scoring position, and that would be Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner’s contributions in the 9th inning.  So for 8 innings, they were 0-8 with runners in scoring position, despite the fact that they had a base runner in every inning except for the 6th.  Even Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t really look sharp (offensively or defensively) until the 9th inning.  It was almost as if there were two different Indians teams out there tonight – one that was there for approximately 3 hours, and another that dropped by for the last 10-15 minutes or so.

I wanted to post something about this game, but I also had an opportunity to see Scott Boras speak here in Los Angeles this morning.  I plan to write a post about his remarks when I get a few minutes; hopefully by the end of the weekend.  Nothing really Indians-specific (except for a passing remark about when he represented Tim Belcher as a player), but it was still pretty interesting.



  • Mike says:

    What a game indeed! I think I was in the same mindset as every Cleveland fan watching that game last night: “Oh my goodness, is it over yet? I can’t take this flip-flop from night to night!” I was happily surprised though at the end. As I watched the bottom of 9th unfold, and after seeing LaPorta get his first hit of the night (a solid double hit to right field), I thought, maybe the Tribe can get something done tonight afterall. Then of course, the sudden feeling that I was only dreaming when Brantley struck out with the bases loaded hit like a ton of bricks. What a finish though. Go Tribe and finish this half of the season with a successful home stand (Tribe takes 3 of 4 and stays 2 1/2 ahead of the Tigers at the break)!!

  • Drew says:

    I looked into the schedule for the Indians through the end of the season and devised a way for them to finish 90-72. However, I decided that this was aggressive because only 2 teams out of 6 made the playoffs in the previous three seasons with similar records and similar Runs scored/Runs allowed margins as of July 8th. One of those teams must be discounted because it was the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers, a team that traded for CC Sebathia. Also the Indians will have three make up games in the 2nd half which will definitely add a fatigue factor.

    The Indians are playing .547 right now which if they can sustain it, will finish it with an 88-74 record. If they play just .500 ball through the end of the season they will finish with a 85-77 record. With these three methods, and observing that historically that the Indians are a 2nd half team, I feel comfortable that with what we know today (no new injuries and currently injured players return as scheduled) that the Indians will finish the 2011 season with a 88-74 record.

    And that should be enough to with the AL Central this year. In the last 9 seasons, only 2 teams have finished 2nd in the AL central with a record better than 88-74. With the MLB parity this season, I don’t think 2011 will be any different.

    In comparison, Detroit has even more dismal chances as they have a -4 run differential as of today and are only 5 games over .500. To finish with a 88-74 record, they will need to go 41-32 in the second half or play .562 baseball.

    Chicago isn’t a seller yet but should be. Their chances of going 88-74 would require them to finish 45-28 or play .616 baseball. I do not think they have talent, the coaching, or the luck to pull this off.

    Minnesota and KC are done needing to play .645 and .702 baseball respectively to reach the 88-74 record.

  • Tribefan14 says:

    Anybody else see a change in Laporta since he returned from the DL. I think he has only one K and every other out has been hit hard. I think some of these injuries may be a blessing in disguise. A little time away can only help the likes of Laporta, Choo, and Carmona, who have all been struggling through the season. I have a feeling this team is gonna make a serious playoff push and I won’t be surprised at all if they make the postseason. Go Tribe!

  • OUtribefan says:

    Tribefan14…I agree about LaPorta. I was telling my buddy at work about him, and more specifically, his swing. When LaPorta shortens up his swing (doesn’t try to hit a home run every at bat) he has such better plate appearances. He’s such a strong guy that he doesn’t have to swing for the fence to hit for power. He is a pure doubles hitter when he keeps a nice short stroke. I hope he keeps looking as good as he has been in the past couple of games, and hopefully Brantley can keep rolling, finally getting out of that slump.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Mike…when Brantley struck out, I full expected someone to ground into a double play. Even though Asdrubal and Hafner are pretty reliable, I felt that type of ending would suit the game.

    Drew…I saw somewhere recently (I think on the SweetSpot network) that Detroit’s lineup has the most dramatic good/bad lineup of all time, in the sense that their top 4 hitters are quite good, and their bottom 4 hitters are really bad. I think they’d really need to revamp that lineup, and assure they could get consistent performances out of several of their starters (instead of just Verlander). Unless Adam Dunn and Alex Rios start to hit about .700, it would probably be pretty tough for the White Sox to turn their performance around. Thanks for putting those numbers together – I think the Indians could play .500 ball the rest of the year and even 85 wins may be enough in the AL Central this year.

    Tribefan14 and OUtribefan – I haven’t had a chance to see LaPorta bat since he came off the DL (I just heard his at-bats via radio), but I’m really interested in seeing his swing now. Hopefully the DL stint will help Choo and Carmona as well.

  • TJ says:

    While living and working in Europe, one of my best friends was Bill, an avid Red Sox fan. We used to follow Boston and Tribe games on our computer, drinking beer and playing chess until the sun came up. I noticed a real difference in our attitude toward our favorite teams. When Boston fell behind, Bill’s feeling was “We’ll come back.” When the Tribe fell behind, mine was “No way; the games over.” Interesting how one’s background can form for life one’s baseball outlook. Like Stephanie, I had given up on last night’s game, going into my kitchen for some ice cream yogurt with the bases loaded and Hafner up as ESPN gave Toronto’s winning probability at 88%. A DP seemed so likely. Hafner’s unexpected HR seemed like Redford’s HR at the end of The Natural. I am pretty sure we may look back on that game as the high point of the season. (My background made me write that last sentence.)

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I completely agree – I usually take the attitude, it’s not “if” they’ll blow it, but “when,” and how painful will it be!