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Tuesday News & Notes: With A Whimper

A listless, punchless lineup dooms the Indians, losing a very winnable game and a very winnable playoff spot.

Lots of this.
Lots of this.
Jason Miller

I used to write that "fire the manager" is the lowest form of conversation in baseball, and who's going to fire Terry Francona anyway? Yet one of baseball's great constants throughout history is the frustration of watching a pivotal game that the manager doesn't even seem to be trying to win. Garko in the outfield, and, to a lesser extent, Gimenez at first base. I'll be honest with you guys, I really had no idea who J.B. Shuck was before last night. Now I know. He's Despair.

The philosophical view is that games like this happen all season long, and we just notice them a lot more when they seem to matter a lot more. The thing is, crunch time really is crunch time, and these games really do count double. This game really was very winnable, as was a 2014 playoff berth. And here we are, Shucking and Gimenezing our way to the outside looking in. Another view is to recognize that even a sweep in this series would have left us an underdog, even if not a longshot, and no sweep is ever likely.

Perhaps we never fully appreciated the Halley's Comet that was 10 straight victories to clinch a playoff spot on the season's final day. (Even just a little bit of a playoff run, I think, would have cemented that historic triumph in our memories.) Now, we're left thinking, sure, why couldn't that simply happen again? But the truth is, no series sweep is ever more than a very long shot. For three weeks, I've been thinking about that unfinished game (which we won, of course) as our ace in the hole. We weren't 3.5 games back but merely 3.0. Those postseason odds, they were skewed low, because we had that game in the bag. Now it just seems like we squandered that ace.

The thing is, though, it's not the long odds that have got us down this morning. It's that feeling again, right or wrong, that the manager didn't really give us a chance. That we didn't just go down, but we went down quietly.

PD: Cleveland Indians go quietly against Kansas City Royals

MLB: Tribe's playoff pursuit stalls in loss to Royals

LGT: Indians can't get offense going, fall to the Royals

LGT: Indians beat Royals 4-3 in conclusion of suspended game from three weeks ago

Indians news and notes

My Hypothetical AL MVP Ballot | FanGraphs Baseball — Echoing a game thread discussion last night, Dave Cameron explains that Brantley is the best non-Trout player in the league, and further that Trout and Brantley are the only position players who have been more valuable than Hernandez and Kluber. As a bonus, he takes Victor Martinez down nine pegs, from his predicted #2 finish on the ballot to #11, based mainly on truly awful baserunning.

Cleveland Indians exposed for lack of reliable right-handed bat, a years-long ailment: Zack Meisel's musings | — Righty bats are hard to find. Always.

Carlos Carrasco’s Objectively Most Impressive Changeups | FanGraphs Baseball — Following up on my buddy Mike Petriello's great piece on Carrasco a few days ago, Carson Cistulli takes a literal look at the movement on his pitches.

Will the AL Cy Young Voting Reflect That the Race is Dead Even? | FanGraphs Baseball — Still more love for an Indian re: awards balloting.

Michael Brantley and the Value of a 20-20 Season | FanGraphs Baseball — A 20-20 season is plenty impressive. No, seriously, it is.

Stephanie Storm's final thoughts on unconventional doubleheader split - Storm does a good roundup here of issues surrounding last night's games, including Carrasco's vocal (and probably ill-advised) displeasure with the defense behind him. Of particular note, the mild gamesmanship Francona employed regarding who would pitch that resumed 10th inning. He seems to have put more thought into that 10th inning than the lineup of the following game.

Francona: I told you Kluber wasn't fatigued | — Yeah, but you still started Gimenez, so ...

Indians to manage Kipnis' hamstring injury | — Yeah, but how good is our managing ...

Around the league

Derek Jeter's farewell tour has hurt the New York Yankees - MLB - ESPN — Buster Olney gets all preachy and deep-sounding, as he does.

John Schuerholz defines “The Braves Way.” And it’s a pretty big pile of crap. | HardballTalk — ... and that's the big pile of crap John Hart just stepped into. Calcaterra deflates the Braves' self-mythologizing nonsense.