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Cleveland Indians slip back into old habits; fall to Rangers 3-4

Lack of hitting with RISP and a late home run allowed by the bullpen. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 4, Indians 3

box score

Indians fall to 20-25

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A massive string of thunderstorms mostly managed to avoid Cleveland for Tuesday night's game, and the Texas Rangers took full advantage of it. Following a 55-minute rain delay, Prince Fielder continued to dominate the league and the Indians by crushing a home run off a first pitch slider, and Danny Salazar looked sharp for about three innings before a finger injury caught up with him.

It's amazing how much good will a couple rough losses can wipe away, and that's the situation the Tribe currently find themselves in. Similar to how they dropped game after game early on in the season, this is another one that slipped through the cracks in the last few moments and remained within reach if just a few key things happened in the right order.

If Wandy Rodriguez didn't suddenly become superman against Michael Brantley in the middle of an inning maybe the Indians could have pulled ahead when the game was tied. Maybe if Mitch Mooreland didn't try and rocket a ball to Valhalla and give the Rangers a small lead in the 8th inning the offense could have come through later on. A whole lot of 'ifs' appear in this loss, but the Tribe come up just a few too many answers short.

At the start of the game it looked as if we were gearing up for a repeat performance of Monday night's 18-run barn burner of a game. Jason Kipnis kicked things off by being Jason Kipnis and hitting a leadoff home run, then three batters later Ryan Raburn shook off some rust and hit a solo homer of his own. Scoring came to a halt after that however, until the 4th inning when Yan Gomes hit Raburn home for his second run of the game off a sac fly.

Through those first four innings, with the Indians holding a lead the entire time, Danny Salazar looked on point. His fastball stayed consistent at 96-97 MPH, he was locating his change up well, and he wound up with a whopping five strikeouts through four innings. Things began to fall apart a bit in the fifth when he walked Leonys Martin and then hit Shin-Soo Choo on a ball that the former Indian took squarely in the thigh. After the errant pitch to Choo, Salazar looked down and winced in pain at the middle finger on his throwing hand, and the very next batter, a scorching-hot Prince Fielder, scored both runners with a big home run. While he didn't allow any more runs from there on out, the finger injury clearly affected Salazar through the remaining innings and he never looked quite as sharp, and he would not record another strikeout in the game.

Offensively, the Indians looked lost at the plate when a runner was on base. It's a problem that has plagued them all year long, but it was finally looking in the past couple weeks that they may have it figured out. The biggest blunder came in the fifth inning. Following a Mike Aviles strikeout, Jose Ramirez drew a walk and constantly had the attention of Wandy Rodriguez while on first base. Partially distracted, Wandy then walked Kipnis and Carlos Santana to load the bases, not looking sharp during any of the at-bats. He easily got out of the situation however, thanks to four near-perfect pitches to strike out Brantley and an easy fly out to second base from Ryan Raburn.

All told, Tribe batters finished the game 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and left nine total runners on base. The Rangers, or more specifically Mitch Mooreland, made Cleveland pay for their lack of runs with a big 8th-inning home run that would prove to be the final nail in the Indians' coffin for the night. The Indians came close to pulling out a magical win thanks to a routine out that was kicked by Elvis Andrus, leading to two runners being on base with two outs in the 9th. But once again, no one could come up with a hit with runners in scoring position.

Indians get a shot at redemption tomorrow afternoon when they take on the Rangers for the final game in the three-game series. It's Carlos Carrasco's turn to try and tame Fielder when he starts opposite Colby Lewis.

Win expectancy chart:


Source: FanGraphs

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