Zach Attack Jackson was handed a 3-1 lead and couldn't hold it. He drilled poor Mitch Maier in the face, causing multiple facial fractures. Kelly Shoppach's two home run night looked like it may go all for naught. Then, Royals Manager Trey Hillman, who the night before pitched to Grady Sizemore with a man on, one out, and first base open, lifted Gil Meche after retiring 17 straight. Genius move Trey! I don't care of he had thrown 103 pitches. What are you saving him for?
Shoppach crushed his second homer off of Ramon Ramirez, Shin-Soo Choo walked, and AC bunted him over. Desperate to get an out, he went to closer Joakim Soria for a five-out save. This is a guy who is second in the majors in saves, and came in sporting a 1.48 ERA. (SIDE NOTE - I heard on the Tribe pregame show that he was a Rule 5 draft pick and was scouted by the epitome of 4A former Indians - Luis "Funky Cold" Medina). He walked Grady and then Franklin Gutierrez stepped to the plate. The red-hot Franky G hit an improbable, three-run shot to left field putting the Tribe up for good. Then to close out the game, Franky made a spectacular diving catch in right-field to give Jensen Lewis his fourth straight save.
How about Lewis's fourth save is the longest streak of consecutive saves for any Indian pitcher this year. Its August 21st!
Back to Gutierrez. I have wanted to see him succeed in the worst way. He is hands down the best defensive outfielder we have had in Cleveland in 20 years. The thought was he would step up big time at the plate in 2008 and take the next step. That hasn't happened. For the season, he still sits at .234, 7 HR, and 31 RBI. However, he is having a great month of August, hitting .346 with three homers, and 10 RBI. His last seven games he is on a .412 tear. This is the kind of stuff we've been expecting to see all year.
Meanwhile, Lewis got the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth, something rarely seen by a Tribe closer. Cliff Lee goes for #18 today at 12:05...DDD will be in the house for the potential sweep.