The Cleveland Indians were a hot ball club coming into tonight’s wild card game against Tampa Bay, winning 10 in a row and going 21-6 in the month of September.
This is more evidence that baseball is a funny game.
The 4-0 loss that eliminated Cleveland came down to the Rays taking advantage of their chances and the Indians not being able to go so.
After a dominant first two innings, Danny Salazar gave up a leadoff home run to famed humanitarian Delmon Young, and after that, the young flamethrower lost his ability to get guys to swing and miss.
He escaped the third allowing just the one run, but Desmond Jennings’ double down the leftfield line with two outs in the 4th gave the Rays a 3-0 lead.
After that, the Indians had threats in pretty much every frame after that, but couldn’t push a run across.
In the fourth, with bases loaded and one out, Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a double play.
In the fifth, the Indians had runners on first and third with no one out, and Michael Bourn struck out, Nick Swisher hit into a fielders’ choice, and Jason Kipnis hit a comebacker to the mound to end that threat.
In the seventh, one out singles by Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall, who had three hits on the night, went for naught when Bourn flew out and Swisher fanned again.
All in all, Cleveland collected nine hits on the night, and couldn’t push a run across.
That’s the nature of baseball though. Sometimes, you get the big hits and sometimes you don’t. The Indians just picked a bad night to be on the wrong side of that statement.
To be sure, many of the national pundits will bring up Terry Francona’s team’s record against teams with an above .500 record as a reason for the loss and say the Tribe didn’t deserve to make the playoffs.
That’s a load of crap. Cleveland won 92 games this season. If any other team had won that many contests, the same people would have clamored to add another wild card so teams with that kind of record can advance to the playoffs.
For those who want to question the decision to start the rookie, Salazar, in this game, keep in mind the Indians still had a chance to win this game until a couple of defensive miscues gave the Rays a fourth run in the top of the ninth.
Salazar, and the guys who followed him, Mark Rzepczynski, the seemingly always reliable Bryan Shaw, Justin Masterson, Cody Allen, and Joe Smith pitched well enough to give the offense a shot. They simply couldn’t get the big base knock.
You can’t win any games when you don’t score a run, and although they hit the ball fairly hard tonight, no one crossed home plate.
Tampa manager Joe Maddon said before the game that his team catches a lot of line drives, and they certainly lived up to their skipper’s prediction.
We will discuss the Indians’ future at a later time, but there is no question the 2013 season was a huge step forward for the Indians. Here’s hoping they build on it over the long winter.