Indians fall to 53-55
The Seattle Mariners came into Cleveland the worst offensive club in the majors. Yes, they had scored fewer runs than anyone else in the American League and National League. But aside from Corey Kluber's masterpiece yesterday, Seattle looked nothing like an inept hitting club.
Yesterday the Indians traded away Justin Masterson, partly because he would be a free agent at the end of the season, partly because he hadn't pitched very well. But even so, because the Indians did not acquire a starting pitcher before the non-waiver trade deadline, they'll need to fill Masterson's innings from the pitchers currently in the organization. Zach McAlllister, who had spent some time in Columbus this season, is one of the main beneficiaries of the trade. With both TJ House and Josh Tomlin waiting in Columbus, a poor outing might have meant he'd be going back down to make room for Saturday's starter. But because Masterson is now a St. Louis Cardinal, he'll likely stay in the rotation, at least for now. He certainly didn't instill much confidence for future success, though, as he lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, including a two-run homer to Dustin Ackley in the third. Because Kluber gave everyone in the bullpen a rest yesterday, Terry Francona could mix and match relievers from the fourth inning on, but that isn't something that you want to do every fifth day.
Today the Indians traded Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals, partly because he would be a free agent at the end of the season, party because the Indians have depth at that position both at the major-league level and in Columbus. The position is very likely going to Francisco Lindor's from 2015 onwards, but for now Jose Ramirez is going to be the regular shortstop. Ramirez is a young man himself, only 21 years old, and brings to the table a couple things that Asdrubal Cabrera didn't. For one, he's a disruptive force on the base paths, coming excellent speed with very good instincts. In the seventh inning, he reached base on an infield single, then moved to first when a pitch bounced away from Mike Zunino; it was a very borderline ball to run on, but Ramirez immediately recognized it and had the speed to slide into second base easily. Later in the inning, he was able to hop over a Carlos Santana line drive, then re-start and make it home from second, again something few base runners would have even attempted. That run gave the Indians a 5-4 lead, and was scored off the best bullpen in baseball.
But the Indians would give the lead right back. To that point, Francona's mix-and-matching had worked very well, as three relievers (Hagadone, Atchison, and Scrabble) and kept the Mariners off the board from the fourth inning through the seventh. Now that the Indians had taken the lead, it looked as though everything was set up for a Tribe victory. Primary setup man Bryan Shaw entered the game in the eighth, but didn't have much command at all, first walking Kyle Seager and then falling behind Mike Zunino 2-0. Shaw then grooved a fastball over the inner half of the plate, and the Seattle catcher was waiting for it. He pulled a two-run homer over the wall in right to give the Mariners a 6-5, and there would be no further reprieve from the Mariner bullpen. Brandon Maurer and Fernando Rodney retired six of the seven batter they faced to give the Mariners the game and series win.
Note: Chris Dickerson injured himself while going after a fly ball in the second inning. He would leave soon afterwards, suffering what the Indians call "knee discomfort," and is listed as day to day. I wouldn't be surprised if the Indians call up an outfielder (probably Tyler Holt) before tomorrow's game.
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