Just another close victory. The Indians got to Johan Santana...
Wait, the Indians got four runs off Santana, who's been virtually unbeatable after the All-Star Break? Grady Sizemore hits a home run to lead off the game? Jhonny Peralta finally gets a hit? Jake Westbrook gets a decision?
Well, the last rhetorical question wasn't much of a shock, but I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised by tonight's result considering the pitching matchup. Jake Westbrook made it through six innings, helping his cause by making six assists, the most by an Indians pitcher since John Denny did it in 1980. And Ronnie Belliard helped out with an absolutely incredible play in the sixth inning.
Belliard's defensive play hasn't been just a mirage; it's showing up in most defensive metrics. Baseball Prospectus' FRAR has him at 34 runs above replacement, which would be a career high for him by 10. Belliard doesn't have the range other second basemen have, but he's made up for it with a strong arm and smooth turn of the double play. I think Mark Shapiro has no choice but to pick up his option this offseason.
The Indians gained ground on two teams tonight, but neither are major concerns in the Indians' playoff hopes. The White Sox still hold a 7.5 game lead, almost insurmountable at this point in the season, and the Red Sox still are 2.5 games ahead of the Tribe.