Tigers 12, Indians 0
Tribe falls to 91-66
Let’s be honest: this game turned out exactly how all of us expected it would. I mean, sure, there was a chance the rag-tag group of hangover replacements Tito put on the lineup card would find a way to win, but it was highly improbable. You can’t get too worked up about a loss like this, given that the purpose of the game was to give the starters some rest. If there is anything of note to take away from this one, it’s the handful of curious decisions by Tito that make you wonder what the plan is moving forward into the playoffs.
First things first: the Indians weren’t going to do squat against Verlander tonight the way he was pitching. The regular Indians lineup probably would’ve been shut down, for that matter. Verlander’s stuff was firing on all cylinders, and he had a bit of help from a generous strike zone on his way to 7.2 shutout innings. He struck out 12 (!) and gave up just four hits, two of which were infield singles. No Tribe player got past 2nd base, and that’s pretty much all you need to know about the "offense" tonight.
The pitching is where things got interesting. Mike Clevinger turned in a real toilet clogger of a performance tonight, giving up five runs in the first two innings. That included a monster 3-run homer from Miguel Cabrera. This shoddy performance is sort of understandable and not really anything to panic about, in my opinion. After all, Clevinger was likely out partying with all the other dudes last night and didn’t have the benefit of sitting tonight. What was strange, though, is that Terry Francona didn’t send Clevinger out for the third inning, essentially turning tonight into another bullpen game. It’s a curious move considering tomorrow is a scheduled bullpen game, with Zach McCallister scheduled to start. Even more curious was Tito sending out Adam Plutko for a few innings tonight, given that Plutko was one of the leading candidates to take Corey Kluber’s next turn in the rotation while Klubot soothes his groin.
Speaking of Kluber’s groin, turns out it's not actually his groin at all. Word came out during the game that he'd be sidelined for 7-10 days with a quad strain, putting him roughly in line for starting game 2 of the ALDS:
Corey Kluber has a mild quad strain, not a groin injury. He will be sidelined for 7-10 days. The postseason begins in 9 days.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) September 28, 2016
So what’s happening with the rotation at this point is anyone’s guess. Hammy seems to be pretty well convinced that Francona plans to roll with a three-man rotation at least in the ALDS, which wouldn’t be unreasonable given the way the off days are scheduled. But good lord, who do we have left to finish the last five games of the season? Things are looking pretty grim, folks. You might want to condition yourself to be happy with those 91 wins.
I’m not gonna get into the details of how the Tigers amassed so many runs tonight. Feel free to read the box score if you didn’t watch and want to subject yourself to that. Suffice to say that it sucked really bad to have to watch. To add to the suck, Texas has come from behind and is looking like a probable victor in Milwaukee tonight. Boston is losing, but even if we don’t lose any ground to them tonight, homefield advantage may be nothing more than a pipe dream at this point.
Look at it this way: we’re playing with house money. No one - and I mean no one - could have predicted we’d come this far missing our best hitter and starting catch. Then add injuries to our 2nd and 3rd starters, and we still managed to clinch the division. So now our ace is out for 7-10 days. The odds truly are stacked against us, but if you’ve watched all year you know - as cliche as it sounds - this team won’t quit. I truly believe this team is capable of winning it all even taking all the injuries into consideration. And if we don’t? Well, not a damn person can say we didn’t go down swinging.