June 8, 2013
This is beginning to get eerily familiar. My head says that the Indians are just playing bad in the midst of a ridiculously difficult schedule, and that things will get better, but my gut remembers 2011 and 2012, when early success turned into brutal second halves.
In this recent stretch of losing, the Indians have fallen behind early and have made comebacks that ultimately fell short. Today the script was the same, because spot starter Carlos Carrasco gave up 6 early runs, and that held up over the rest of the game. Carrasco was up today because to help set up the next 8 games for the Indians. Zach McAllister was not going to be able to make his next start, even though he had been pushed back, and bringing up Carrasco today means that he would be able to serve his suspension without messing up the pitching staff. With an off-day on Thursday, the Indians can go with four starters over their next eight, and either Carrasco (suspension completed) or Zach McAllister (eligible to come off DL) would be available to pitch the June 18th game. But while all that made sense from a roster management perspective, the move hurt the Indians today. Carrasco, who has had a checkered past when with the Indians, almost imploded in the first inning when he loaded the bases with one out, but got out of it. He didn't get out of second inning jam, with the big blow a Prince Fielder bases-clearing double. He would only go four innings, leaving after giving up a leadoff double in the fifth inning.
But unlike in past games, the Tribe bullpen held things together. Matt Langwell stranded Jhonny Peralta in the fifth and pitched a perfect sixth inning. Cody Allen and Joe Smith both pitched scoreless innings themselves, giving the Indians an opportunity in the late innings.
The Indians actually got on the board first, thanks to a Michael Bourn double and a Jason Kipnis single in the first inning off Detroit starter Rick Porcello. They added an unearned run in the fifth, and two more runs in the seventh when former Tiger Ryan Raburn hit a two-run homer.
All that set up a tense ninth inning. Jose Valverde was used for the third day in a row, and walked the tightrope, allowing the tying run to reach with one out, and the Indians had at-bats with the go-ahead run at the plate. But both Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles struck out, and the Indians lost yet again, falling below the .500 mark for the first time since May 1st.
Terry Francona got thrown out for the second time this season. This ejection happened before the bottom of the eighth inning, and seemed to be a holdover from the inning before, when Michael Brantley got called out on strikes. Brantley wasn't that demonstrative, and neither was Nick Swisher, who was chatting up Andy Fletcher between innings. It seemed to me that Fletcher was the instigator here, and as Swisher and Fletcher's talk turned into a confrontation, Terry Francona got in the middle of it to prevent Swisher from getting tossed, but by doing so, he himself got run. I've said this multiple times before, but it bears repeating: umpires should not be looking to start anything, and this kind of confrontational behavior is just as bad as a missed call.
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