Ez-ily Slipping Away; White Sox 4, Indians 2
One game does not make a season. Sunday’s 4-2 defeat to the Chicago White Sox felt like a major turning point in the Cleveland Indians’ 2011 season though. Just like the fly ball hit to Ezequiel Carrera in the top of the sixth, the team looked to be in control most of the way, only to see things slip away at the most unexpected and last second. The Indians, who started the season 30-15, with timely hitting, squeeze plays and solid defense were left with more errors than runs scored on Sunday.
Another outstanding performance was squandered by Justin Masterson. Masterson only allowed one earned run in seven innings and four hits. But with the game tied in the top of the sixth inning and two outs, Masterson had to begin to feel like the pitcher’s mound was an island and he was alone on it. Masterson induced Adam Dunn to hit a fly ball to centerfield. The routine fly ball should have been caught and ended the inning, but instead Carrera lost the ball in the sun and it glanced off his glove. Both runners scored, giving the White Sox a 3-1 lead.
Carrera’s gaffe seemed even more inexcusable considering his sunglasses were resting on top of his hat, instead of on his face where they were needed. Carrera had already potentially cost the Indians a much needed run in the first inning, when he was picked off first base. Asdrubal Cabrera laced a double to the right field corner only a hitter later. The speedy Carrera certainly would have had at least a chance to score, instead he was on the bench.
The Indians breakdowns were not just limited to Carrera however. After falling behind 3-1, the Tribe answered back in the bottom of the sixth. After Asdrubal walked, Travis Hafner laced a ball to right center field. Running on the pitch, Cabrera was able to score from first, however, Hafner did not advance to second on the throw to home plate. Carlos Santana promptly grounded to second base to start a double play. Had Hafner advanced to second base, Santana’s ground ball would have moved him to third base with only one out and the Indians looking to tie the game.
Finally, in the top of the seventh Mark Teahen hit a weak line drive to Asdrubal Cabrera that could have been easily charged and caught on the fly. Cabrera played back on the ball and was handcuffed, allowing it to squirt by him. While it was only Cabrera’s tenth error of the season, it was a very easy play, and was immediately compounded when Santana threw the ball into centerfield on Teahen’s stolen base attempt, allowing him to advance to third. A groundball later and the White Sox had stolen another cheap run, making it 4-2. The loss dropped the Indians a full two games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central standings.
The Indians need help and they need it quickly. It is understandable to gauge the trade market and not want to overspend, but waiting until July 30 or 31, before the trade deadline could find the team four or five games out of first place. But more importantly, the Indians have to stop being their own worst enemy at the plate and in the field, or they are going to squander a great season by a budding, young starting staff and a phenomenal bullpen.
The Tribe will try to right the ship Monday evening at 7:05 at home against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels will send Dan Haren (10-6, 3.10) to the mound, while the Indians counter with Fausto Carmona (5-10, 5.63).