August is over, Tribe fans.
September has officially begun, and if today is any indication, a wild month could be in store for the Cleveland Indians. So wild, in fact, that I’ve decided to make a deal to the Tribe and their fans.
While I’m not sure if seeing me twerk will be a blessing for Indians fans or not, what I am sure of is that I care a lot about this Indians ballclub. For any fans that might have thought that the season was over, games like this help to reignite the passion that makes us all Indians fans in the first place.
That reminds me. I should probably start talking about the game.
The Indians won against their AL Central foes, the Detroit Tigers, by a score of 4-0, avoiding a sweep and winning against Detroit for just the fourth time this season. The Tribe is now finished playing the Tigers this year, and will begin a nine game homestand on Monday.
Danny Salazar went six shutout innings and allowed six hits, striking out five and walking none while receiving a no-decision. Of his 77 pitches, 54 were for strikes. He did well to limit trouble, but was able to work himself out of jams when he needed to. Alex Avila led off the bottom of the third inning with a single and later advanced to third on a double by Andy Dirks with only one out. He then got Jose Iglesias to ground into a fielder’s choice and Torii Hunter to fly out to end the inning.
Nick Hagadone and Cody Allen teamed up to throw a scoreless inning in the seventh, and Joe Smith put up a zero in the eighth.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander also pitched well, allowing only four hits and two walks in seven scoreless innings. However, he threw 116 pitches (78 for strikes), though he and seemed to struggle with his command at times early before settling down. Both walks he allowed came in the first inning, and he surpassed 80 pitches in just the fourth inning. Bruce Rondon pitched a scoreless eighth in relief.
Neither team could do much on offense, as evidenced by the teams’ combined 2-13 mark with runners in scoring position. Miguel Cabrera was out of the lineup again for the Tigers, dropping Detroit to 9-2 when he is not starting.
The game was scoreless entering the top of the ninth. Carlos Santana led off with a walk against Detroit’s closer Joaquin Benoit. Recent call-up Jose Ramirez made his major league debut as a pinch runner and advanced to second on another walk, this time by Michael Brantley. Asdrubal Cabrera bunted, moving Ramirez to third and Brantley to second. Jason Kubel was intentionally walked (and was subsequently lifted for pinch runner Matt Carson) to load the bases for Mike Aviles, who hit a grand slam to give the Indians a 4-0 lead and send Benoit to the showers. Al Alburquerque then struck out Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn to end the inning.
Chris Perez was sent out to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and, in typical Chris Perez fashion, found a way to make it interesting. After a ground out by Nick Castellanos, Omar Infante hit a ground rule double but was hit by an infield single off the bat of Jose Iglesias, making the second out. Ramon Santiago followed with a single, and both runners advanced on a passed ball by Yan Gomes. However, Perez was able to retire Dirks with a ground out and send the Indians to their 72nd win of 2013.
Next up for the Indians is a nine game homestand that will see the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals pay a visit to Progressive Field, where the Indians are 40-26 so far this year.
The Good: Danny Salazar looked terrific on Sunday against one of the best lineups in the league and was able keep his pitch count low. As a result, he was able to throw six innings and keep the bullpen rested. There have been questions about whether Salazar can stay in the rotation long-term, but outings like this certainly have to be helping any chances of him being in the starting five for the Indians in the future. The bullpen also pitched well, and was able to support Salazar and keep the game scoreless.
The Bad: The Indians’ offense continued to struggle. Justin Verlander clearly isn’t the guy that a struggling offense would like to see, but the grand slam by Aviles helped to save the Indians, and can hopefully light a fire under the Tribe’s hitters. The offense has been on somewhat of a cold spell recently, and if they can catch fire with one of their trademark hot streaks, their four game deficit in the Wild Card race could evaporate quickly. The Indians were outhit 11-5 by the Tigers, but were able to come out on top thanks to six walks by Detroit pitching.