The Indians are still in first place by 1.5 games, but they've had ample opportunity to take a more comfortable lead. They did take two out of three in Tampa, attaining a reasonable goal for any road series, but Sunday's game was there for the taking. CC Sabathia, who again pitched a good game, was denied a win thanks to poor run support.
The team still had a chance to close the game out after eking out a game in the 10th, but Joe Borowski gave up a run in the bottom of the inning. Joe walked Dioner Navarro (he of the .205/.263/.315 line) with two outs in the inning, letting the top of Tampa's order have a shot of hitting. Borowski after the game:
Borowski's been fairly good at closing games (much better than I certainly expected), but if Eric Wedge would gather up enough courage to replace him with either Rafael, I wouldn't complain.
The fortunate thing is that, even with their month-long team slump, the Indians largely control their own destiny. They go into Detroit needing only to win one of the three games to stay in first place, and the Tigers have another four games with the Yankees after the divisional showdown. The pitching has been there, both in length and in quality. That the starters have gone deep into games has meant that Eric Wedge hasn't had to use his "untrusted" relievers in close games. But because any wins have been close ones, those relievers in the rear of the rotation have been getting rusty, which is the fatal flaw of the Joe Torre style of reliever usage: if one of your trusted relievers gets injured or goes bad, you don't have any immediate effective replacement.
I haven't seen this mentioned in the diaries:
New Plain Dealer sports columnist Terry Pluto
The author of numerous books, Pluto will continue writing columns, including his popular Sunday notes column.
Pluto, who once worked at The Plain Dealer as an Indians beat writer, has been with the Akron Beacon Journal for the past 22 years.
I've wondered why this hadn't happened sooner. There wasn't any beloved sports columnist at the PD to block Pluto's return. Heck, there wasn't any adequate sports columnist in the way.