There are two schools of thought about a loss.
One school says that if you’re going to lose, lose a blowout and get it out of your system quickly, as the Tribe did on Saturday when Detroit won 10-1.
The other school says that if you lose, give it your best effort, make it exciting, derive some moral victory from defeat.
After today’s loss, it is hard to find any sense of moral victory from a game that was a blowout after three, got close in the fourth, and became a gut-wrenching affair wherein the tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
After spotting the Tigers a 7-0 lead in the third inning, the Indians battled back, yet at the end found an old and unfriendly trend rearing its ugly head: an inability to get a run in from third with less than two outs.
It all added up to an 8-7 Tigers’ win that completed a sweep and left the Indians 4.5 games out of first place in the Central Division — Cleveland’s largest deficit of the year with only 39 games left to play.
Ubaldo Jimenez had a third-inning meltdown, allowing seven runs in the frame, including two Detroit homers.
But the Tribe struck for five in the fourth, and after Detroit added a run, scored single runs in the fifth and sixth to get within one.
Where, unfortunately, it stayed.
To add insult to injury, a caught-stealing in the Tigers’ fourth that was not called enabled Detroit to have a runner in scoring position, said runner scoring on a single for what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Jimenez fell to 1-1 with Cleveland, working into the fourth inning and allowing eight runs on nine hits.
With that being said, the Tribe bullpen did a splendid job, with Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Tony Sipp combining for 4.2 scoreless innings to give the hitters a chance.
But when Jose Valverde got pinch-hitter Matt LaPorta to fly out to shallow center with one out and runners at second and third in the ninth, Kosuke Fukudome was gunned down at the plate by Austin Jackson to end it, dropping Cleveland to 62-61 on the season, while the Tigers moved 10 games over .500 at 68-58.
The Indians pounded out 13 hits, with four players contributing two each to the attack. Carlos Santana hit his 19th homer of the season in the fourth, although Santana struck out with two on to end the eighth.
The Tribe was not horrible with men in scoring position, going 4-for-13, but unfortunately, in the eighth and ninth, failed in that position, which ultimately decided the ballgame.
Valverde converted his 37th save of the season in as many chances, although it took a perfect throw from Jackson to accomplish it.
Now the Indians come home for 11 games, all against sub-.500 teams. After four games in three days against Seattle, Cleveland will see the Royals next weekend for three before Oakland comes to town for four more.
Frankly, the Tribe needs to go about 8-3 or better on this upcoming homestand. The Tigers are hitting the road to Tampa Bay and Minnesota, and will get two starts from Justin Verlander in the next week before they come home to take on Kansas City. If Detroit could somehow be held to a .500 record while the Indians take 8-of-11 or better, it would still be close with almost 30 games left.
But if the Indians let this homestand pass without gaining ground on the Tigers, it will be getting into “running out of time” mode.