Thursday, September 18

Take that, Twinkies

Get out your brooms, my friends.

Yeah, so we haven't recapped a Tribe series in over a week. Did you really want to read about that awesome split with the Orioles, or getting crushed 3 out of 4 by the Royals? No, you'd much rather read about Los Indios kicking the Minnesota Twins around Progressive Field. Much more fun. I LOVED this series.

I have to admit, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this series. Of course, the Indians winning is always Priority #1, and beating a Central Division rival like the Twins is always welcome, even if the loss of Torii Hunter has made the Twins far less whiny and annoying than in the past. On the other hand, I'd rather see Minnesota in the postseason than the Black Sox. I guess we'll just have to do the same thing to Chicago in the season's final series and snatch that AL Central crown off of Ozzie Guillen's insane head.

Game 1 faced off Indians newcomer Scott Lewis against the Twins' Kevin Slowey, and Lewis dazzled for the second straight outing. Following his impressive eight scoreless inning debut, Lewis ran his streak to 14 by holding Minny in check for 2/3 of the game. Slowey (here's a fun game: think of a worse name for a pitcher) pitched well but was victimized by the longball. As has been the Tribe's MO lately, they scored all three runs via home runs. Kelly Shoppach's 4th inning blast (his 21st!) put the Indians on the board, while Shin-Soo Choo's 11th came in the next inning, plating Grady Sizemore and putting the Indians up 3-0. Rafaels Betancourt and Perez cruised through the 7th and 8th respectively, the closer gave up a run but got the save, and all of a sudden it was 2007 for a night. Final score: 3-1 Tribe.

Game 2 was a wild one: 21 runs, 27 hits, 5 errors, and the Twins leaving roughly 75 men on base. Minnesota took an early 1-0 lead off of Indians starter Zach Jackson, still searching for his first win. Jackson settled down, blanking the Twins over the next three frames. Meanwhile, the Tribe offense came alive with four runs in each of the 2nd and 3rd innings to take a commanding 8-1 lead. The Tribe attack was spearheaded by Ryan Garko, who smacked a three-run home run and a sacrifice fly for half of the club's RBI over this explosion. They had a big chance to blow it extra-super-wide open, but Franklin Gutierrez struck out with the bases loaded in the 3rd to end that threat. While the Tribe was building their lead, the cameras flipped to Jackson in the dugout. Oddly, he looked really distraught, with a towel over his head and his head in his hands. It was almost as if he could see the immediate future, the part where he was going to hand six of the seven runs back to the Twins before the end of the 6th. Granted, he had some help from Juan Rincon, who relieved Jackson and immediately gave up a 2-run single to bring the score to 8-7. Things could have been worse, but Rich Rundles ("Rich Grundles") got Justin Morneau with the bases loaded to hold it there.

The teams alternated squandering scoring opportunities in the 7th. Brendan Donnelly (ERA now 9.00, but lucky to be there), loaded the bases with an assortment of pitches not in the strike zone (Indian pitchers walked nine on the night) but was fortunate to get a lineout double play to third to escape trouble. Jhonny Peralta led off the Tribe half of the inning with a triple and stayed there until it was time for him to walk over and play shortstop. Rafael Betancourt came out for the 8th and managed to walk FOUR batters and allow two hits and two runs as Minnesota forged ahead 9-8. It was positively Jorge Julio-esque.

Grady Sizemore quickly tied things up in the Indians' 8th with a solo shot off the foul pole in right. As soon as he hit it, both he and I thought: if it's fair, it's gone, and indeed it was both, knotting it up at 9-9. Jensen Lewis then pitched two strong innings for Cleveland, while the Tribe was retired in order in their 9th and 10th. As for the 11th, you'd normally favor Minnesota in a Joe Nathan-Tom Mastny pitching duel, but Mastny kept the Twins off the board while Nathan ran into the Tribe's hitting machine. After a Gutierrez leadoff single, a Ben Francisco sac bunt, and a Peralta walk, Victor Martinez took Nathan long for a three-run shot and a walkoff 12-9 victory for the Wahoos.

Time for some sweep. Sweep, my friends. Cliff Lee on the hill. Win. 23-2.

Oh, complications - minnesota twinkies. You think you're going to win this game? You are not. Sure, those dorks took an early 2-0 lead, but the Tribe erased it via solo shots from Jhonny Peralta and, yes...drumroll please...Travis Hafner. Right before Hafner's shot, I was facing a 3-pin spare at the local bowling alley. I saw Haf's blast, pumped the fist, and hit the spare. Then I won a straight-up CMU water bottle for my skillz.

The power surge made it 2-2 Tribe. Then Shin-Soo Choo does his thing, and it's 4-2 Tribe after a 2-run double. This man can flat hit. Choo is a 2009 Indian.

So the Phifer comes out to chase his improbable 23rd win. However, it was not to be on this night - Clifton put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 0 out, and Tribe skipper Eric Wedge came out for a conference with our boy. I give credit to Wedge here - he spoke his case and let Lee stay out there. I believe this to be a combination of factors. One, you're a sinking ship with a bright light. Why the hell not let Cliffy try for #23? Plus: our bullpen is awful.

Didn't work out - Cliff got a sac fly and KRS-One hit a crappy little ground ball single. Fart, 4-4. Nice try, Cliff. You'll have to settle for the greatest single-season pithing performance by an Indian in my lifetime.

So what do the Tribe do then? Score 2 in the 8th and win, of course. Thanks, Jhonny, and thanks, Victor. 6-4 Tribe, see you later Twinkies, have a nice flight back to that horrible stadium of yours. Go Tribe.

I'd love to see the Indians just kick the tar out of the Black Sox in the last weekend of the season, and sneak Minny into the playoffs. Before that, we'll welcome Detroit to town. We'll see how the reeling Tigers respond to the beat-down the Indians handed them last time the two clubs played. GO TRIBE!


jo said...

Worst name for a pitcher - how bout Grant Ballfour

Andy said...

It's actually "Balfour." The Pirates used to have a pitcher named Bob Walk.

I always thought it was funny that Cecil and Prince Fielder were both big hitters but pretty weak fielders.