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Indians lose, Indians swept, Indians no longer wild card leaders

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Pretty fun weekend, no?

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today could have been a great celebration of Carlos Carrasco’s return to Major League Baseball after being diagnosed with leukemia earlier this season. I guess in some ways it still was; Cookie recieved a standing ovation from members of both teams and all of the fans at Tropicana Field when he entered in the seventh inning.

To give you a good sense of the mood of this game — and the entire weekend — Carrasco looked sharp until giving up back-to-back doubles with two outs, allowing a run.

The Indians ultimately lost today 9-2. By allowing the Rays to sweep they are no longer in the lead for the top wild card spot. Because the Yankees somehow managed to come from behind and beat the A’s, they cling to the second wild card spot.

Mike Freeman does not an offense make

Mike Freeman went 3-3 today with a walk and run scored today. The rest of the Indians lineup went 3-29 with two walks and a run scored. Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana both struck out three times.

The journeyman utilityman somehow-still-a-rookie-man cannot be the top producer on this team if it expects to win enough to reach the postseason.

Regression may be greeting the back half of the rotation

Zach Plesac gave up four runs in five innings yesterday. Adam Plutko gave up four runs in four and a third innings today (also, four walks). For good measure, the Rays thunked the Indians’ bullpen both nights, scoring four more after knocking the starters out of the game.

Despite injuries to the starting rotation that depleted the usual pitching depth, the Indians managed to cruise on the back of fine starts from four different rookie pitchers. While Aaron Civale may indeed be MLB-ready now, there were always signs that Plutko and Plesac might be due for some regression. Alas, it is here.

Someone stole Oscar Mercado’s soul

At the end of the game, for about twenty seconds, Oscar Mercado stared out into space. He looked depressed. I watched him and realized I was making the same face he was making while watching him make that face, further realizing that I, too, felt depressed. Unlike Mercado, I was not hit in the hand by a pitch during the game, nor did I have an umpire block a throw to the plate by doing absolutely nothing to avoid it. This allowed me to snap out of the rut.

I tried to pull a gif of the moment from MLB.tv, and even though the game is over and archived it is still not allowing me to do so. Hello again, rut.

Is this the end?

No. If Carlos Carrasco can come back from a cancer diagnosis and still throw mid-to-upper nineties effectively, then let that be the inspiration for this team to save its season. Teams can have a rough half-month at a bad time and still rebound to have a successful postseason.

That future just feels a lot less likely now that the Twins have rebuilt a 5.5 game lead in the central.