The Indians have finished up their dreaded seven game road trip against the Red Sox and Rangers. They managed to go 3-4 on the trip and normally I’d say that’s a success given the opposition. Not this time. No way, no how. Not with way they played and not with how those games ended.
The Indians could very well have gone 7-0 or 6-1 on this road trip and pulled themselves closer to the division leading Tigers. They held leads in all seven games and in 3 of the 4 losses Indians pitchers gave up walk off hits. Instead the Indians are still 4 games back headed into what is essentially a make or break 3 game series this week against said Tigers. You can’t help but wonder what could have been. But that’s how the game of baseball works sometimes. The bullpen has been great all season long and when the Indians needed them to come up big, this time they couldn’t come through.
On a related note, the Indians are turning me into an alcoholic, one stressful inning at a time. My liver would greatly appreciate it if the Indians could find a way to win or even lose a game without it coming down to the final at bat of the game.
The other interesting development from the past week was the re-emergence of Shelley Duncan as a viable option for the Indians. After Duncan was called up to replace Jack Hannahan, who was out for paternity leave, he went 3 for six, hit a home run, drove in runs, and looked like the missing piece the Indians have been looking for. Given his ability to actually hit the ball and have productive at bats in addition to his versatility in the field, one has to wonder why Austin Kearns continues to get playing time. If Kearns is kept over Duncan when Hannahan returns Indians fans, myself included are going to have some serious questions for Manny Acta and the Indians front office.
This past week also saw Jason Kipnis transform before our very eyes. He went from a prospect looking to get his sea legs under himself to a legit 2 hole hitter. He was incredible all week-long. He hit 4 home runs on the road trip and was a catalyst in several of the Indians key rallies. Unfortunately, his glove work was a little less than desirable. He committed several errors, at least on of which led to runs being scored. Despite that, he’s beginning to look like the stud player we’ve been hearing about since the Indians drafted him.
Lastly, Ubaldo Jimenez made his Indians debut Friday night. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t exactly great either. He only managed to work 5 innings and throw 108 pitches. It’s understandable that coming into a new situation with a new team he would probably be a little nervous, but the fact of the matter is Jimenez needs to be better than what he showed Friday night against the Rangers. The Indians need him to dominate when he faces off against the Tigers on Wednesday.
So there you have it. While the 7 game road trip of doom could have been the proverbial nail in the coffin, the Indians managed to find a way to survive. They’re still alive in the AL Central. In reality, that’s all we were really asking for. They have the day off today so hopefully between now and 7 pm tomorrow the bullpen will figure out what’s ailing them. If not, this could be a very long next couple of days which could lead to a very long remainder of the season.