Indians fall to 74-76
I suppose we always knew the late push would fall short. but I wasn't expecting the Wile E. Coyote ending. But after a week or so of treading air at the .500 mark, the Indians have hit the proverbial cliff and are now falling towards the earth, only now aware of the effects of gravity.
It's apparent now that Corey Kluber is trying to pitch with a sore hamstring. In his last start, he left the game early after only throwing half the pitches he throws in a typical game, and tonight he seemed to run out of gas after a brilliant first three innings. Then all of a sudden:
Brian Dozier hits home run. MIN 1-0
Joe Mauer doubles
Miguel Sano walks
Trevor Plouffe doubles, Mauer scores. MIN 2-0
Eddie Rosario strikes out swinging
Torii Hunter hit by pitch
After Hunter was hit, the 19-year veteran stared out at Kluber as if he had been hit intentionally, which most assuredly was not the case. Anyway, Kluber struck out Kurt Suzuki, but then Eduardo Escobar would land the knockout blow, a two-out, two-run single to put the Twins up 4-0. Kluber would walk the next batter and leave the game having thrown 3.2 innings. I wouldn't be surprised if tonight was Kluber's last start in 2015; there's a very real chance the Indians will have been eliminated by the next time his spot comes up in the rotation, and if that's the case there's no point in sending Kluber out there even if his hamstring is at 99.99%
The Twins wouldn't score after that, but the Tribe bats were silenced until the final moments of the game. Phil Hughes (5 innings) and the Minnesota bullpen allowed just 6 hits (0 walks) on the evening, with two of those hits coming in the final frame. The Twins haven't exactly had a dominant pitching staff of late, but tonight they dominated the Cleveland offense in a way that I haven't seen since July. Francisco Lindor (two hits) continued his torrid rookie campaign with two hits, and Carlos Santana prevented a shutout by hitting a two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Here's what the Wild Card situation looks like after tonight's action:
Houston 80-73 -
Minnesota 78-73 1.0
LA Angels 78-74 1.5
Baltimore 75-76 4.0
Cleveland 74-76 4.5
And if Seattle can pull out a win over the Royals, they'll be tied with the Indians. Making up 4.5 games on one team is a very difficult thing to do, but with now three teams between the Indians and the Astros, it's time to think about the offseason and 2016. The Indians needed a 5-game winning streak last week to stay in contact with the leaders, but kept stumbling at the cusp of .500. Most years a .500 team wouldn't sniff the playoffs, so for the Indians to have had at least a smidgen of a playoff race in September was rather fortunate. But even so, the opportunity was there, and they couldn't take advantage of it.
Win Expectancy Chart
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