Tribe falls to 76-73
Friday afternoon the Indians still looked life a playoff contender, albeit one who needed to get on its horse and finish strong if it were to actually make the postseason. Now, little more than three days later, they look like a team that will struggle to keep itself above .500, because they can't do much right. For most of the season the Tribe had a solid offense. We argued some about whether or not they were consistent enough, but the fact of the matter is they were scoring runs at an above-average clip. Since a 12-2 win on August 1st though, the Indians have now averaged just 3.34 runs per game. They've scored 3 runs or fewer in 26 of 41 games during that time, and they've scored 2 or fewer more often (16 times) more often than they've scored 4 or more (15 times).
It might help if Terry Francona weren't giving up outs left and right to move batters up a base, as he did in the 1st inning tonight, when Jose Ramirez put down his league-leading* 13th sacrifice bunt of the season to move Michael Bourn to third base, a decision I hate.
*Keep in mind that tonight was only Ramirez's 56th game of the season. No one in the AL with as few PA as Ramirez has even half as many sac bunts this season. If you don't think he's good enough to hit, maybe don't bat him second.
Bourn did in fact score, coming in on a single by Carlos Santana. Of course, he would have scored from second base on the play too. That put the Tribe ahead early, but it was also the only run they would score all night. In fact, the Indians only had a runner make it as far as second base one more time the entire game.
The Indians rarely win anymore unless they get very good pitching. Tonight, they did get very good pitching from Zach McAllister, who was making his first start for the team since the end of July. He struck out 6 and didn't walk any in 6 innings. He was charged with 2 runs, but they were only partially his fault, because with one out and a man on first base in the third inning, what should have been a fly out to left field (and when that didn't happen, it should have been ruled an error) instead became a double off the glove of Michael Brantley, who seemed to slow down and short arm the ball a bit, perhaps concerned that he was going to run into the wall. Jose Altuve then singled in both runners, putting the Tribe behind for good.
Altuve later led off the bottom of the 8th with a triple off Scott Atchison and scored on a sac fly, giving the game its final score. If you're still scoreboard watching, the Yankees and Blue Jays have both lost tonight too, and as of this writing the Royals and Mariners are both trailing, so it's possible the Indians won't actually lose any ground in the Wild Card race today, but let's not kid ourselves.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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(I guess we aren't drawing any better than the Indians these days.)
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