Tribe falls to 70-71
It's easy in baseball to overstate the importance of a single game, but in the midst of a late playoff push every single game is magnified. To a degree, every single inning is magnified. But it's important to remember that when you're 4 games back, not everything is within your control. Coming in do the day the aforementioned 4 games back of the Rangers, the best case scenario would have been to finish the day with 2.5 games and a record of 71-70. It's hard to see a split in a doubleheader as a let down, given how hard it is to win both games in any situation, but that's what we faced today. The luck broke against Cleveland as the Rangers and the Twins both beat their opponents, leaving Cleveland 4.5 games behind Texas and 3.5 behind Minnesota. An Angels lose does move the differential with them to 1.5. Things aren't over, but they play of the teams ahead of us have stalled the advance.
Game 2 started drastically different than Game 1 and, in many ways, it played out as its polar opposite. Randy Wolf looked terrible to open the game, needing 50 pitches to get out of the first inning as every Indians hitter save one came to the plate. Wildness and a quantity of foul balls higher than most kindergartners can count drove up Wolf's pitch count. They did score two runs in the process, but that didn't feel like nearly enough. And it wasn't.
Meanwhile, Trevor Bauer retired the side in the first and only allowed a walk in the second. The Tigers did manage to break through in the third when J.D. Martinez singled to right with two outs. But the real damage came the next inning and it was partly avoidable, partly bad luck and partly bad timing. Nick Castellanos singled down the line in right on a ball that looked like Carlos Santana would catch, until he was called off by the 2nd baseman Mike Aviles, who never made it to the ball. Then Alex Avila hit a high chopper off of the plate that Giovanny Urshela gave everything he had, making barehand catch and throw to just barely miss nabbing Avila. It looked like a literal tie, or maybe Avila got him by a quarter of a step, but he was definitely still safe. From there some a double, some walks and a single drove in 4 runs for the Tigers and they never looked back. It also chased Trevor Bauer from the game without ever retiring a batter in the 4th.
I love Trevor Bauer and before the year I even picked him as my breakout candidate. I defended it for awhile but the defense is gone. I don't know enough about pitching theory to say whether he is right or wrong, but I'm still confident in his work ethic, unconventional as he may be, and think he can find away to improve next year. But, right now, he inspires the least amount of confidence in me as any member of the Indians pitching staff.
While the Tigers would tack on a run a piece in each of the next three innings, the Indians offense would remain asleep. There were some good at bats mixed in, but mostly the kind without results. And in a playoff chase, the results become more important than the process at the end of day, as time runs outs.
The one really good thing to come out of today's game was this incredible catch by Lonnie Chisenhall in right field. Statcast had him at 18MPH and a route efficiency of 97%. Go get 'em, Big Lon.
Win Expectancy Chart
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