Before this series with the Tigers began, every Tribe fan (and half the Detroit fans) said, “The Indians have to avoid a sweep to remain in contention.” After last night’s win, most Indians fans breathed a bit easier because, you know, at least we know we wouldn’t get swept, because that would have been the worst thing that could happen. The second-worst thing that could happen is that we lose the series. I don’t know how tomorrow night’s game will pan out, but I do know it’s now impossible for the Indians to sweep the Tigers in this series.
The Tigers scored first tonight, just routine a Miguel Cabrera single that scored Austin Jackson. The Indians’ half of the 1st started out promisingly enough with Shin-Soo Choo doing exactly what a lead-off man should do–get on base (on a walk). The worst thing that could happen in that situation would be a double play. Instead, the second-worst thing happened: Choo was caught stealing and Asdrubal Cabrera struck out on the same pitch, giving us two outs with nobody on. And then Jason Kipnis grounded out to end the inning. The Tigers scored two more in the 2nd inning. The Indians didn’t get on the board until the 3rd inning, when Casey Kotchman hit a two-run dinger.
Derek Lowe started off the 5th inning by walking the first three batters. The 4h batter of the inning was Prince Fielder and you figure, yeah, bases loaded, nobody out, Prince Fielder up. If a grand slam is the worst that could happen, what’s the second-worst that could happen? How about a deep sacrifice fly to center that scored a run?
Somehow, the Indians managed to get out of the inning without giving up any more runs because, on the bright side, when the bases are loaded, you can throw the ball to any damn bag you want and get somebody out. (I’ve got to mention Casey Kotchman and Carlos Santana pairing up for a nice out at the plate that prevented another run from scoring. Kotchman may only be batting .233, but defensively he is worth his weight in silver, at least.) The Indians didn’t answer back with any runs in the bottom of the 5th. On the last play of the inning, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a hard grounder to first. Prince Fielder body slammed it to the ground. I suppose the worst that could have happened would be Fielder ripping out the ball’s cork heart and eating it. The second-worst was Fielder stepping on the bag to end the inning.
The Tigers scored one more in the 6th while the Indians, um, didn’t score. Going into the bottom of the 9th, we had Santana, Hafner, and Damon coming up. That’s not the worst that could happen–Shelley Duncan could have been in that mix (now that Aaron Cunningham is in Columbus, Duncan is the only one on the current roster with a batting average below Hafner’s .229). And I suppose the worst that could have happened would have been for the Tribe to go down 1-2-3. The second-worst that could happen is, of course, false hope (a perpetual problem for Indians fans). In other words, after Santana grounded out, Hafner hit a solo home run. And then Damon grounded out, and Kotchman grounded out. Game over.
A 5-3 loss isn’t the worst that could happen. After all, it wasn’t a shutout, but it’s still not a win.