Can you believe that the season is already over? Given the circumstances, that should probably be considered a positive, but crumby season or not, I must say that I’ll miss watching Tribe games during these next few months. On a positive note, Tuesday’s game was a fun ride from start to finish and basically had it all. Justin Masterson provided the team with solid pitching, yet we also saw a fair share of drama after Chris Perez served up a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to give the Chicago White Sox a 3-1 lead. The drama only continued to grow after Travis Hafner answered right back with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning, and of course, Jason Donald’s heroics ended the contest in the twelfth inning and gave Cleveland a 4-3 win. All in all, the game had a wonderful script even if it essentially meant nothing.
Jason Donald: CF, Indians: Donald came on to pinch run in the contest, but he ended up providing a lot more value than that. Donald had just two at-bats in the game, but he definitely made the most of them. In his first at-bat, Donald recorded a single, but he then topped that in the bottom of the twelfth inning when he notched a walk-off, two-out RBI-double to clinch a 4-3 win for the Indians. It’s hard to tell what the future holds for Donald as injuries have really taken a toll on his career, but it was nice to see him have his walk-off moment here. Next year, the Indians are certainly going to be in need of a right-handed utility type player. Since the summer, we’ve seen Brent Lillibridge take on that role for the Indians, but personally, I would much rather see Donald put a firm handle on that spot. In spurts he has shown that he can really be a productive hitter, and I believe that can continue to be true as long as he stays healthy.
- Masterful ending: Let’s face it: Indians right-hander Justin Masterson has not had the year that many of us had expected. Almost everyone believed that he would take another step forward this year and really build off his 2011 campaign, but that unfortunately has not been the case. Yet, despite all the poor starts this year, Masterson and his sinker were at their best Tuesday. There was plenty of sink to Masterson’s fastball, and he was really able to pile up the groundouts. The performance was another example as to why this guy must remain in the starting rotation. When he is on, he can really be a solid No. 2 starter in this league. For the year, Masterson finished with a 4.93 ERA in 206 1/3 innings of work. The ERA leaves a lot to be desired, but it is nice to see the big right-hander notch 200 plus innings in consecutive seasons.
- Farewell Pronkville: Did we just see Travis Hafner’s final home run as a Cleveland Indian? That was the question burning in my mind after Pronk launched a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game and spoil Jake Peavy’s evening. Because of injuries, Hafner has really not been an effective designated hitter since 2007. Nonetheless, it was fitting and somewhat nostalgic to watch him hit Tuesday’s home run off the foul pole. And if it really was his last home run as an Indian, I have to thank him for the memories. From 2004 to 2006, this guy was an OPS machine. I’ll never forget those seasons.
- CHOO!: For the game, Shin-Soo Choo finished just 1-for-5, but his one hit was a big one. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Peavy served up a first-pitch breaking ball, which Choo proceeded to smash out of the ballpark. For Choo, it was his 16th home run of the year and 67th RBI. Much like Hafner, one has to wonder if that was the last home run that Choo will hit as an Indian. Choo has been identified as a possible trade candidate this offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
- Barnes’ brilliant audition: Left-hander Scott Barnes continues to grab my attention. I love Barnes and his deceptive delivery, and the young pitcher is really showing that he belongs in the Majors. Since rejoining the team in September, Barnes has not allowed a run. In fact, Barnes has actually looked good all year aside from the five-run blow up in 1/3 of an inning against the Reds back in June. Given his decent stuff, it will be interesting to see if the Indians decide to stretch Barnes out and give him a chance to earn a rotation spot next year. I’m all for it.
- Duh winning: Fun fact. Second Thoughts is actually not one of my regular assignments at IPI, but I do pinch-hit every once in awhile, and I have now written five Second Thoughts columns this year. What’s so special about that? Well, ironically enough, the Indians have won all five of those games. Hmmm, maybe I should write more of these next season.
- Rottino? Really? Really? REALLY?: Rottino came into catch in the contest after Hafner pinch hit for Lou Marson. I understand that they needed someone to catch in this situation, but I’m sorry, I just cannot understand A.) Why this guy is on this team and B.) Why he is getting playing time. On the season, he has a .107/.133/.250 line. ‘Nuff said.
- Perez disappoints: After basically spilling his guts with the media in regard to Manny Acta prior the game, Chris Perez made himself look even worse with his performance in the top of the ninth inning. Perez allowed a two-run home run to Dayan Viciedo, which seemed likely to be the winning runs. Thankfully, Hafner bailed Perez out in the bottom half of the inning.
- Asdrubal scuffles: Asdrubal Cabrera essentially looked lost on Tuesday night. In five at-bats, the Tribe shortstop struck out twice and saw just a total of 14 pitches. That’s not the kind of way that a player wants to end the season.
The Indians close out their season tonight with game three of the three-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Gavin Floyd will be throwing for the Sox while the Indians will send David Huff to the mound. The game means very little in the long scheme of things, but it would be nice to see the Indians close out the year with a win. We’ll see if they can do just that tonight.