In a 162-game season, you can usually predict which teams will be good and which will be bad based on preseason predictions, talent on paper, etc. In a single game within that 162-game set, projections go right out the window. Today, the Cleveland Indians (or their fans, more likely) were reminded that no matter how good you are and no matter how average your opponent is, any team can lose to any other team on any given day. Things didn’t go all well for the Tribe tonight as they lost the series opener to the Minnesota Twins by a score of 8-6.
Lately, the Cleveland Indians have been doing a good job of scoring early and often against teams which usually puts them on cruise control for the remainder of the game. Tonight, the script was flipped when Jorge Polanco (ground out RBI) and Eddie Rosario (dinger) drove in the first two runs of the game for the Twins before the Indians even had a chance to bat. The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Edwin Encarnacion tied the game with one swing of the bat in the bottom half of the inning, driving in Lindor and Ramirez. With one out and one on in the inning, it looked like the Indians might not only tie the game, but take a lead as well. Alas, Jay Bruce and Carlos Santana couldn’t get the ball out of the infield and the game went into the second a brand new ballgame.
Eddie Rosario was up to no good again two innings later, doubling home two more runs for the Twins and taking yet another two run lead over the Tribe. But the bottom half inning, again, saw the Tribe tie it all back up thanks to singles from Encarnacion and Bruce. Edwin thought he could motor from second to home, but Max “actual James Bond villian” Kepler gunned the slugger down at the plate. Despite the Carlos Santana single that followed, Jason Kipnis and Roberto Perez both delivered balls right into Max Kepler’s glove to end the inning. Curse you, Kepler.
A light at the end of the tunnel came when, in the bottom of the sixth, Francisco Lindor hit a sac fly to center field to bring Kip in for the go ahead run. And for good measure, in the next inning, Edwin took his parrot for its 38th flight of the season to give the Tribe their first 2-run lead of the evening. With the Tribe bullpen fully rested and ready to go, a victory seemed all but certain.
And then it wasn’t.
You’ve heard this song before. Bryan Shaw entered the game in the eighth inning and flirted with disaster just long enough to finally get burned by Brian Dozier. After two singles back to back by Jason Castro and Robbie Grossman (both on fastballs right over the heart of the plate), Shaw thought “hey, third time’s a charm, right?” and delivered not one, but TWO fastballs right over the middle of the plate. He’s lucky Dozier didn’t blast the first one into the atmosphere; unfortunately, he didn’t miss on the second one and, yet again, the Twins had the lead. Tito apparently decided eff this and threw Craig Breslow out in the ninth inning to clean up the game; he instead gave up a double to Max KEPLER and a single to Byron Buxton to give the Twins, you guessed it, another two-run lead. The Tribe went quietly in the ninth to end the game.
There’s an outside shot that the Cleveland Indians will face the Twins in the ALDS. It’s not a great shot because they will have to get past the Yankees, but as we saw today, in a 1-game series, anything is possible. Danny Salazar looks to right the ship tomorrow against Adalberto Mejia.