|W: D. Huff (2-0) L: J. Odorizzi (0-1)|
Considering that the Indians have already lost 90 games, it probably sounds quite silly to label Sunday’s affair as an important one, but there are many reasons that suggest it was just that. With a win, the Indians would be assured that they would not lose 100 games this season. That may not be a big deal anymore, but it has to be considered a moral victory at the least. Plus, a win also would prevent the Indians from being swept by the Kansas City Royals. Again, a moral victory, but at this point, the Indians have nothing left to play for but moral victories. Thankfully, the Indians did win, 15-4, to improve to 63-90 while the Royals fell to 70-82. However, even more impressive was the way that the Indians went about getting the win. For a team that has been starved of offense for much of the season, Sunday’s contest was a nice breath of fresh air.
Carlos Santana: DH, Indians: Is there even any question here? For the game, Santana went 3-for-6, scored three runs, hit two home runs and drove in five runs. It’s been difficult to find many intriguing storylines during the second half of the Indians season, but Santana’s resurgence has been one of them. Since the All-Star break ended on July 13, Santana is hitting .293/.384/.531 with 13 home runs and 45 RBI. Can you imagine if he produced at that level during the first half when the Indians were actually competing? This is obviously a huge IF, but perhaps the team might have cushioned a larger lead and never would have fallen into this current tailspin, which has plagued the club since the end of July.
- Slamtana: Santana hit two home runs in yesterday’s contest, a two-run shot in the sixth inning and then a three-run blast in the top of the ninth inning. It was the switch-hitter’s third career multihomer game, and he also matched his career-high in RBI with five. For the season, Santana has now hit 18 home runs and driven in 75 runs. Here’s hoping that he somehow reaches 20 homers in these final nine games.
- Spoiling Odorizzi’s debut: Heralded Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi made his Major League debut against the Indians in Sunday’s contest. The 22-year-old boasts quite the resume as he was ranked as the No. 47 prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus prior to the season while Baseball America tabbed him at No. 68. In the early going, he seemed to cruise right through the Tribe’s lineup until the team finally started to get to him in the sixth inning. Welcome to the Majors Odorizzi.
- Brantley continues to impress: I was just talking the other day with IPI co-editor Jim Pete about how enjoyable Brantley is to watch. Outside of Santana’s resurgence, Brantley’s consistency has really been about the only other enjoyable part of this second half. The center fielder went 3-for-5 Sunday and recorded his 37th double, which is tied for 16th in the Majors.
- Cabrera coming around: After his four-game hit streak was snapped Saturday, Asdrubal Cabrera was at it again on Sunday. The Indians shortstop went 2-for-5, scored three runs and drove in two more.
- The hit parade is on: As a team, the Indians tallied an impressive 16 hits in the contest, but even more impressive than that was the team’s performance with runners in scoring position. This has been an Achilles heel for the Tribe all season, but they came up big Sunday, going 7-for-12 in that situation.
- Two-out RBI: If hitting with runners in scoring position has been the Tribe’s Achilles heel this season, then two-out RBI has been the team’s ultimate demise. How many times have we seen the team load the bases up with two outs only to have nothing to show for it? On Sunday, the team at least made something out of these opportunities as Santana’s second home run came with two outs, and Cabrera recorded a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning as well.
- David Huff impresses: By no means was the left-handed starter overpowering, but he really did give the Indians an ample opportunity to capture a win. Huff went 5 2/3 innings and allowed only three hits and one run, which came off a solo shut by catcher Adam Moore. In his 16 innings with the Indians this season, Huff is now 2-0 with an ERA of 2.25.
- Walk it out: The Indians recorded eight walks Sunday to bring their season total to 513. It’s hard to use excel and Indians in the same sentence, but this is one area where this year’s team has excelled as the current total ranks fifth in all of baseball.
- Why is Casey Kotchman playing?: This may be beating a dead horse, but I really cannot see the logic here. Kotchman is not going to be in the team’s plans next year, so why is he in them now? Even though he’s likely nothing more than a right-handed bench option, Russ Canzler should see the majority of time at first base. Or, heck, go grab a first base glove and give it Thomas Neal and let him get some reps there. Sure, it sounds crazy, but at this point I would rather see that than see Kotchman play any more time at first.
- A giant tease: Yes, games like yesterday’s are certainly enjoyable for Indians fans to watch, but where were they during the course of this season? If the team could have got performances half as good as yesterday’s on a consistent basis, this team would be in a much different position than it currently is. It’s amazing what the combination of good pitching and solid offense can do. But since this team has been so startling inconsistent this year, yesterday’s contest can really be chalked up to nothing more than a giant tease.