Derek Lowe threw another gem Sunday afternoon and Cleveland came through with a ninth-inning rally, but it was not enough as the Indians (23-18) dropped the rubber match of their series with the Marlins (22-19), 5-3.
The Marlins got to Lowe right out of the gate. Jose Reyes led off with a double on the fourth pitch of the game before Bryan Petersen bunted him to third and Hanley Ramirez brought him home on his groundout. The Fish struck again in the third as Ramirez reached with a two-out single and scored on Greg Dobbs‘ RBI double to make it 2-0 Miami.
Cleveland finally got on the board against Marlins starter Josh Johnson in the bottom of the fifth. Michael Brantley reached with a base hit and didn’t stop running. He stole second base, moved to third on Johnny Damon‘s groundout, and scored on Jose Lopez‘ RBI single. It was the only run the Indians got against Johnson.
Miami’s bats really got going in the eighth. Greg Dobbs knocked Nick Hagadone out of the game with a leadoff double and Manny Acta went to Jeremy Accardo. A Giancarlo Stanton walk, a Logan Morrison double, and a Brett Hayes base hit later, the Fish had scored twice and there was still nobody out. Chris Coghlan‘s RBI fielder’s choice made it 5-1 Marlins.
The Indians were down but they were not out. Carlos Santana started the inning by reaching on an error, and Johnny Damon’s one-out hit put the tying run on deck. Now in a save situation Ozzie Guillen went to closer Heath Bell. Lopez promptly doubled off the wall to score Brantley and bring the tying run to the plate. But Casey Kotchman grounded out (which scored Damon) and Shin-Soo Choo flew out to end the rally and give Miami a 5-3 win.
The Good: It was another stellar outing for Derek Lowe. The veteran sinkerballer threw a quality start, holding the Marlins to two runs on six hits over six innings, getting two strikeouts while allowing only one walk. I swear he won’t be able to keep up this pace with strikeout totals this low, but as long as he’s burning worms at an incredible rate (he induced 16 ground balls Sunday) he’ll be fine.
Jose Lopez also had a great day, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. I’m still not convinced that he’s really a better option than Jason Donald at this point, but I’m very glad to say that my initial skepticism about Lopez seems to have been misplaced—at least, so far.
The Bad: It was another subpar showing from the offense. It’s hard to blame a team for not scoring much against Josh Johnson and the ninth-inning rally showed that the Tribe was fighting through the end, but there’s no way Lowe should have taken the loss after a start that good.
The “Huh?”: About a week ago, Steve Kinsella asked: “Why is Shelley Duncan even on the roster if he’s not going to be used in a situation like that?” I had the same question Sunday. Manny Acta let Johnny Damon hit against tough lefty Randy Choate in the ninth, then let both Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman—who had himself entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh—walk to the plate in huge situations while Duncan sat on the bench. What does he have to do to earn the trust of this team?
Interesting Tidbit: Though he did not pitch Sunday, Chris Perez had a great outing Saturday, striking out the side in the ninth inning. It was the first time he’d gotten three strikeouts in one game since June 13, 2011 against the Yankees.