It was a somewhat eventful and exciting weekend for the Indians, who narrowly lost a three game series with the division rival Minnesota Twins. Friday night the Indians sent surprising rookie Jeanmar Gomez to the hill to face off against Tribe-killer Francisco Liriano. Tonight, however, it would be the home team’s turn to land a few blows against the seemingly unhittable Twins lefty, as they chased him in the fifth inning with a 4-0 lead. Not so shockingly, that wouldn’t last long. With a 6-4 lead in the top of the ninth, Chris Perez was called upon to slam the door, and promptly gave up a lead-off single then a double to pinch-hitter and former Indians’ fan favorite Jim Thome. Thome’s double appeared to clear the 19-foot wall in left field (I thought so), but after a review it was upheld as a double, otherwise it would have been a game-tying homer, and the 578th of Jim’s career. Now with new life, Perez wasted no time stealing the hope away by giving up a one-out game-tying single to Alexi Casilla, and we had a new ballgame on our hands at 6-6. Luckily, Matt LaPorta would bail out Perez in the bottom half by cranking a 1-0 pitch from Matt Guerrier into the bleachers in left-center, sending the fans home with a win after what Matt said was the first walk-off homer he ever hit at any level.
Saturday was a special night at the Jake (no, I will not call it Progressive Field). Kenny Lofton, one of the most loved and respected Indians ever, was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame. I attended this game, and must say it was good to see K-Love getting recognized for his contributions to the dominant mid-90s teams. From his rookie year in 1992, he was arguably the best lead-off hitter in baseball. He is the Indians’ all-time leader in stolen bases, and also in the top-10 in runs scored and hits. He looks like he could still suit up today and bat lead-off for the Tribe, which might not be a bad idea…anyway, it was a beautiful ceremony, and that is where the night’s beauty ended.
Before I get to the game, I just want to say that Luis Valbuena should never be in the starting line-up, and when he is, no one should be batting after him except the lead-off hitter (he hit seventh Saturday night). Why Manny Acta continues to give him a chance is beyond my comprehension. He can’t hit, he can’t catch and he is impeding the way for other prospects to get their feet wet. I say we just give him back to the Mariners, even if we have to ship a bag of baseballs along with him. But I digress…
After tying the game at two in the fourth with a string of hits and RBIs from Jordan Brown and Matt LaPorta (Brown batting before LaPorta? I’ll save that for another time), the game moved right along to the seventh still tied at two. Pavano and Carmona were cruising, and after the seventh my friend (a Twins fan) asked if I thought Carmona would come out for the eighth with his pitch count approaching 100. Well that seemed like a no-brainer with Fausto pitching great, but he apparently would rather make a liar out of me because he laid an ostrich-sized egg in the eighth. When the smoke cleared after the inning, we were down 6-2 and that was more than enough, as the Twinkies added another run in the ninth and took the game 7-2.
On to the rubber match. I unfortunately didn’t get to watch any of the game, as I was at work until around 4:30, but I was able to convince my coworkers that it was a game worth listening to and was able to hear Tom, Mike, and Rosey call the entire game. Again, the Tribe jumped out to an early lead with three in the first on an RBI single by Shin-Soo Choo and another bomb by Matt LaPorta, this time a two-run job. Adding an unearned run in the second, things were looking great at 4-0 and David Huff looking like the pitcher I remember from the end of last season. Leave it to Mike Hegan, though, as he begins talking about how great Huff’s command looks and how he is mowing down the Twins. Huff Daddy would go on to walk Michael Cuddyer to lead off the fifth, then allow a two-run jack to Jim Thome. From there, the wheels fell completely off as Huff didn’t make it out of the fifth and the Twins put up a five-spot in the inning, which they made stand up and won 5-4.
All in all, I’d say it was an above-average weekend for the Tribe. They made a few mistakes and played sloppy at times, but no more so than they have any other time during the year. Hopefully Acta can get his head out of the clouds and realize that the answer for third base is not on the team (sorry Ed, I don’t think it’s Andy Marte) and stop platooning these guys who can’t field or swing the lumber. Until then, let’s just hope the ground balls stay away from the corners.