A lot has been made about the current make up of the Cleveland Indians roster. Whether it be the usefulness of certain veteran players, or the ongoing struggles of others, one thing remains painfully clear. The people running the show know what they’re doing. It’s why they get paid the big bucks. Last night was further proof that while we may not understand certain decisions, there is a motive to every move and player acquisition.
If you hadn’t figured it out by now, most of this is in reference to Jason Giambi and his continued presence on this team. The have been many arguments both for and against his being on the roster, but last night proved that perhaps Giambi does hold some value to this team moving forward beyond his veteran know how and contributions to clubhouse morale.
With last night’s game tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Terry Francona called upon Giambi to pinch hit for Mark Reynolds. He was rewarded three pitches into the at bat when Giambi sent Ramon Troncoso‘s 1-1 offering deep into the Cleveland night. As the ball cleared the fence in straight away center, the fans went nuts, the players raced out of the dugout and Giambi raised his fist in triumph. It was a sight to behold and one of those scenes they replay over and over on end of season highlight reels.
As he crossed home plate, Giambi was mobbed by his teammates. THe love was apparent. Say what you want about Giambi, but his presence in the clubhouse has helped unify the team and built the type of camaraderie that had been missing in season’s past. Perhaps the moment of the moment occurred as Francona came out to congratulate Giambi. Rather than shake hands or high-five, Giambi embraced Francona in a bear hug, lifting him off the ground almost as if to say thank you for this moment and thank you for this opportunity. It was a great moment.
Giambi wasn’t the only hero of the night, however. Zach McAllister pitched more like the Zach McAllister we had come to know and rely on last night. Over the course of seven innings, he allowed only two runs to cross the plate on five runs and a walk. He didn’t factor in the decision, but he did his job; keeping the Indians in the game and handing things over to the bullpen.
Meanwhile, the Indians scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the second innings on a sacrifice fly to left by Carlos Santana. The RBI put the Tribe up by a score of 1-0.
In the top of the sixth the White Sox got themselves on the board against McAllister. Back to back doubles by Alex Rios and Adam Dunn plated the first run and then Paul Konerko followed with an RBI single of his own to put the White Sox up by a score of 2-1. It wouldn’t last long as the Indians came back to tie the game up in the bottom of the sixth.
After loading the bases against Chicago starter John Danks with no outs, the Indians were only able to manage one run. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to score a run and tie things up at 2-2. The rally would die from there. Ryan Raburn and Carlos Santana both grounded out, stranding Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis on the base paths.
Following up McAllister out of the pen were Cody Allen, Rich Hill, and Chris Perez. They did what the needed to do, holding serve and giving the Indians offense the chance to win the game. Chris Perez ended up the beneficiary of GIambi’s heroics by earning the win. It was his third of the season.
The Good: Zach McAllister and Jason Giambi. McAllister pitched great over the course of seven innings allowing only two runs on five hits and a walk. It was a considerable improvement over his last time out against the Mariners. He looked sharper and had more command over his pitches. Meanwhile, Giambi hit the game winning home run. He was the star of the show last night.
The Bad: The Indians offense in the bottom of the sixth was awful. The loaded the bases with no one out and proceeded to hit into three straight ground outs and score only one run. That’s not going to get the job done. Luckily, the pitching staff was able to pick them up and keep them in a position to win the game in the end.
The “Huh?”: This was the 16th straight game where the Indians have scored the first run of the game. That officially set a club record.