September 27, 2013
You would think with all these wins in a row that the Indians would be already prepping for the playoff. But after tonight, the wild card race is as close than ever, and the upshot is that the Indians will just have to keep winning.
That's what they did tonight, though it took a tremendous night at the plate to do it. The Indians tattooed Twins starter Pedro Hernandez , scoring four runs off him in the first and another three in the second before Ron Gardenhire pulled him. So Corey Kluber was working with a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first and a 7-0 lead in the bottom second. And when he came out for the fifth innings, the Indians had a commanding 9-1 lead.
But Kluber couldn't manage the game. He allowed a run to score in the fourth on a two-out single, then gave up a two-run homer to Pedro Florimon in the fifth, then got into all kinds of trouble in the sixth by loading the bases with one out. You would have hoped that Kluber could have finished the sixth, but by that point Terry Francona had no choice. With both Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen unavailable, he tried to get by with Rich Hill. It didn't work, as Hill allowed all his inherited runs to score, and CC Lee was brought in to finally end the inning. At this point the Indians are fighting just to get in the playoffs, but if they do, Hill's performance tonight is not going to help his chances of making the playoff roster.
Scrabble restored order by pitching a scoreless seventh, and then Justin Masterson made his second relief appearance. This time he struggled a bit with command, but ended striking out of the side after walking the leadoff man. The plan is for Masterson to pitch again on Sunday, and if the Indians make the playoffs, he'd be available to pitch out of the bullpen. With Chris Perez now completely out of the relief rotation (nevermind closing), Masterson's role is now even more important. He could end up closing a game if circumstances dictate it, though I think Joe Smith would be the default option all things being equal.
The Indians once again put the game out of reach (for real this time) with a run in the eighth and two more in the ninth. The ninth inning runs came off the bat of Drew Stubbs, who the pitch before had seemingly struck out. But home plate umpire called the pitch on the outer corner a ball, and Stubbs took advantage of a second chance. Matt Albers, aka The Human Victory Cigar, finished off the Twins in the ninth to finally end the game.
In other relevant AL games:
- Toronto 6, Tampa Bay (0.0) 3 - Final
- Texas (-1.0), LA Angels 3 - Final
American League Wild Card Standings
That means that the Indians cannot clinch tomorrow unless the Rangers lose to the Angels and the Indians win. Otherwise Ubaldo Jimenez is going on Sunday for a must-win game 162. Tampa Bay's loss opens up the very real possibility of a three-team tiebreaker to determine the two wild cards.But let's not go down that road, for if the Indians keeping taking of business, they'll playing on Wednesday.
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