By Mike Brandyberry
All good things come to an end, and whatever this is too.
Tonight, the Indians officially conclude their season that unfortunately ended a long time ago. After contending for 99 games, the Tribe fell a part in the final 63 and quickly eliminated themselves from the American League Central Division race in August. On July 26 the Indians were just 3.5 games in back of first place, but 11-game and nine game losing streaks buried the team by August 24.
The drop in the standings eventually cost Manager Manny Acta his job last week. The skipper for the last three seasons was informed last Thursday he would not be retained for the 2013 season. Yesterday, Indians closer Chris Perez spoke candidly about Acta and felt his laid back attitude did not work with a youthful clubhouse and a more hands-on manager could make a difference.
“August wasn’t baseball, it was pathetic — in all aspects,” Perez said. “I’m not saying that a change earlier would have done anything, but sometimes we pressed the panic button. Why? A lot of things left you kind of scratching your head.”
Perez continued to talk about how Acta did not communicate with players, often not speaking to him in spans lasting over a week. Perez also pointed out that Acta only addressed the team as a whole in 2011 on Opening Day and the final day of the season.
Meanwhile, Sandy Alomar has been left the Interim Manager for the final six games. The Tribe won their third game under the part time skipper last night, a 4-3 come from behind victory—capped with a game-tying home run from Travis Hafner in the ninth inning and a game winning base hit by Jason Donald in the 12th inning.
Cleveland is 3-2 in Alomar’s five games at the Tribe helm. After his final game this evening, he’ll interview for the job on a permanent basis on Thursday. It is believed to be a two-horse race between he and Terry Francona. Francona has managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-2001 and the Boston Red Sox from 2004-2011, winning two World Series in Boston. Francona may be the favorite for the job, having the experience and attitude Perez is looking for, even Alomar agrees.
“Anybody would want Terry,” Alomar said. “What’s not to like? I respect him, but I feel I am ready, too.”
Alomar will have one last chance to prove he’s ready tonight when left-hander David Huff (3-0, 2.86 ERA) takes the mound for Cleveland. Huff has won back-to-back starts since being reinserted into the Tribe rotation, replacing Jeanmar Gomez. He’ll try to prove he’s worthy of a rotation spot, regardless of who the 2013 manager is.
Chicago counters with right-hander Gavin Floyd (11-11, 4.47 ERA) for the season finale. Floyd is looking for his first winning season since 2008, when he went 17-8.
Travis Hafner is expected to be in the Tribe lineup tonight and it has a chance to be his final start in Cleveland. The designated hitter has a $13 million team option for next season that will most likely not be picked up. While the possibility remains he could return on a restructured deal, this evening could be his final appearance with the Indians.
Tonight’s finale can be seen on SportsTime Ohio or heard on the Indians Radio Network, beginning at 7:05 pm.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
4. Russ Canzler, LF
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Cord Phelps, SS
7. Jack Hannahan, 1B
8. Lou Marson, C
9. Jason Donald, CF
Chicago White Sox Starting Lineup
1. Orlando Hudson, 2B
2. Dewayne Wise, RF
3. Paul Konerko, DH
4. Dayan Viciedo, LF
5. Dan Johnson, 1B
6. Jose Lopez, 3B
7. Hector Gimenez, C
8. Jordan Danks, CF
9. Ray Olmedo, SS
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak