This had been billed as a make or break week for the Indians. Well, two games in and it’s beginning to look like the foundation is beginning to crack. One night after losing to the Braves by a score of 2-0, the Tribe found themselves on the short end of the stick once again on Wednesday. This time they managed to get some runs across the plate, but it wasn’t enough. The Braves walked off the Indians last night, 3-2.
Justin Masterson pitched well in six innings of work. He struck out six but also walked four Braves. Somehow, though, he managed to escape the evening surrendering only two runs. Masterson would take direct responsibility for the loss after the game saying there is no way he can walk a pitcher with two outs and runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, that’s what happened and the Indians paid dearly for it.
In the bottom of the second, the Braves had runners at second and third with two out and Paul Maholm stepping to the plate. Maholm, owner of a .133 batting average coming into play should have been an easy out. Instead, Masterson walked him on four pitches, extending the inning and giving the Braves all the help they would need. Atlanta is one of the best teams in baseball for a reason and giving them free passes in situations like that will always come back to bite you in the rear end.
Of course, Jordan Schafer followed with a single to left that would score Brian McCann and Andrelton Simmons. With a 2-0 lead it looked as if the Indians would have to find a way to battle back against one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. They would do just that.
In the top of the fourth Mike Aviles homered to cut the deficit in half at 2-1. Then in the top of the eighth the Indians would scratch and claw to get the tying run across the plate. After loading the bases with one out, Mike Aviles would deliver once again. This time is was a sacrifice fly to tie the game up at 2-2. The Indians were still in business with two down and runners on the corners with their best two out hitter coming to the plate in the form of Michael Brantley.
Then the unthinkable happened.
While attempting to steal second, Asdrubal Cabrera inexplicably decided to stop midway between first and second. As it turns out, he thought the ball had been foul tipped dead. Instead, McCann caught the pitch making it very much a live ball situation. Either way, it was a total gut punch as it ended the rally before Brantley ever got a real chance to drive in Jason Kipnis from third.
The Braves would get the win in the bottom of the ninth when Chris Johnson singled off of Joe Smith to drive in Jordan Schafer for the 3-2 win. Smith would take the loss and the Indians were left wondering what could have been. They’ll look to salvage one game of this three game series tomorrow night when Ubaldo Jimenez takes the hill against Kris Medlen.
The Good: Mike Aviles continued to prove he was a quality acquisition for the Indians. He drove in both runs, one of which came via a solo home run, and continues to play above average defensively. If I were managing this team, I might strongly consider making him a permanent fixture in the everyday lineup until the current starting shortstop got his act together.
The Bad: The rest of the offense was a virtual no-show for the second straight game. I hate t say it, but it looks like they’re about to fall back into another prolonged slump.
The “Huh?”: It has to be Asdrubal Cabrera. How do you make that kind of mistake in that situation? With your team in the thick of a playoff race and every win being that much more important, how can you have that kind of mental lapse. It’s unacceptable. Look, I know that weird things happen and to error is human, but Cabrera has to be smarter. And why is he trying to steal second anyway? Let Brantley do his thing.