Looky Looky. Our beloved boys in Red, White, and Blue just went into Arlington and swept the Rangers, thanks to some clutch hitting and actual decent relief work. It was all capped off by a gritty, one run win in last night's finale. Things that we thought we'd see all year, we are finally starting to witness now. Like say, doing the little things to win. Take the top of the ninth for example:
With Raffy Perez and Jensen "2009 closer" Lewis unavailable, Juan Rincon failed at his shot to preserve an eight inning 3-1, allowing two runs, the last coming on a bases loaded walk by noted Indian killer "to see" Ramon Vasquez from Rafael Betancourt. Ryan Garko led off the top of the ninth with a single. He was replaced by pinch runner Andy Gonzalez. Kelly Shoppach layed down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, moving Gonzalez into scoring position. Franklin Gutierrez hit Eddie Guardado's next pitch back up the middle to score Gonzalez and put the Tribe ahead for good 4-3.
Get em on, get em over, get em in.
Betancourt closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth. Talk about things we haven't seen much of this season. There were so many positives to take from this series in that joke of a stadium in Texas. Saturday night, Jeremy Sowers threw a clunker after being forced to warm up three times due to a one hour-14 minute rain delay, yet the forgotten 4A special, Eddie Mujica, came in and threw two and 1/3rd scoreless relief. Meanwhile, the offense, trailing 7-1, kicked into high gear following Texas's six run fourth with a six run fifth, capped by a three-run pizza from The Shop Vack. Jamey Carroll's pinch hit RBI single in eight won it. Perez, Betancourt, and Lewis pitched three more scoreless innings for the much-maligned Tribe pen. Lewis even K'd the side for his sixth consecutive save.
Gutierrez continued his stellar play with the game-winning single in the ninth last night, as well as a 14 pitch at-bat that resulted in a double which gassed starter Vicente Padilla in the fifth. Ryan Garko, who has been absent most of the season, has 17 RBI in his last 15 games.
The Tribe brass may have struck gold in dealing for starter Anthony Reyes, who has been a rock of consistency since coming over from St. Louis. In his four starts as an Indian, he is averaging six innings, and has an ERA of 2.22. Last night he battled through seven innings, providing a huge lift to the taxed bullpen. Fausto Carmona seems as though he is finding his old groove once again, allowing just two earned runs in his last two starts. Cliff Lee is still being Cliff Lee.
What cannot be overstated is how important having a dependable closer is. Since turning the ball over to Jenny in the ninth, the Tribe is on a 12-3 streak, including the current seven-gamer, which Lewis has saved four. Says Mr. Grind-ball: "Jensen Lewis at the back end of the bullpen has been a key. It allows you to put your bullpen together." With the starters seemingly going 6-7 innings every time out, getting the ball to Perez and then Lewis gives the Tribe a chance to win every night.
Again, something we haven't seen all year.
With Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner (I'm not holding my breath here) on their way back, a .500 record is in sight. As are the third-place, $130 million Detroit Tigers, who are up next for the Wahoos. Most people could care less, but to your friends at DDD, this is a huge series. Two months ago, the Tribe was 10 games behind the Motor City Kitties, and now they sit just 1.5 games back. More Wedge-speak: "This means a great deal to us," Wedge said. "We want to finish with the best record and as high in the standings as we can. It's about pride. It's about competitiveness."
Don't expect a win tonight. The Zach Attack is on the hill for the Tribe and with the game ending at 11:30 EST last night, the boys most likely didn't arrive in Detroit until 3 AM. Armando Gallaraga, he of the 12-4 record and dominance over the Tribe this year (3-0), goes for the Tigers. Smells like a loss. The good news is, DDD's own King Diesel will be in the house tonight, not spending a dime toward's Illitch's pockets. Not to worry though, Jim Leyland is trotting out 4A supreme Chris Lambert Tuesday night against Cliff Lee. Fausto and Justin Verlander wrap up the three game series Wednesday night.
Lastly, MAD PROPS to our fellow blogger over at The Diatribe, Paul Cousineau for the much-deserved credit from The PD's Terry Pluto in his Sunday column about the Tribe minor leaguers. Paul does about the best and most in-depth coverage you will ever want to read. No cookie cutter b.s. Congrats buddy!