Maybe it is not that important for the Indians to finish at or above .500 or in second place at all. Maybe it is better sometimes to let the young arms see what they can do under mild pressure (no pennant race) and see how they might fare next season.
But it sure is hard to be a fan sometimes at this time of year.
After taking a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning tonight and looking good to sweep today’s doubleheader, the Indians saw the Chicago White Sox come back and win 5-4 to earn the split and leave us where we were when the day started — with Cleveland a game and a half up on Chicago and a game under .500
It is unfortunate that Zach McAllister was in line for his first major league win and saw the bullpen give it away — a bullpen that did not feature the best that the Tribe has to offer.
I am not going to criticize the kids, though, or criticize the manager. But I do feel bad for McAllister.
It sure did look good after the fourth inning. After three and a half scoreless frames, the Tribe scored on a Jim Thome single, driving in Jason Donald. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Grady Sizemore delivered a sacrifice fly against Chicago stater Dylan Axelrod and it was 2-0. Matt LaPorta then came through with a double, scoring Thome, and when Jack Hannahan delivered another sacrifice fly, it was 4-0 Good Guys.
McAllister gave up a run in the fifth, and then the Indians squandered a chance to really put the game away in the bottom half when Carlos Santana hit into a double play with two on and nobody out. The Tribe eventually loaded the bases, but White Sox’ reliever Josh Kinney got Sizemore to pop out to end the threat.
In the sixth, McAllister left with one on and one out, giving way to Rafael Perez. With two outs and two on (both runners on base courtesy of walks), Perez allowed a two-run double to Gordon Beckham and it was 4-3.
Chicago took the lead for good in the seventh. Zach Putnam came on for the Tribe and immediately got into trouble when Tyler Flowers singled and Beckham doubled. Juan Pierre tied the game on a ground out and Alexei Ramirez plated what turned out to be the winning run with an RBI single.
Nick Hagadone, to his credit, came on and — after a walk to load the bases — induced a double play grounder,
The Indians got walks in both the seventh and eighth innings but could do nothing with them, and in the ninth, against Chris Sale, Santana hit into another double play with one out and Donald on first to end the long day.
The Tribe and the Chisox will be back at it on Wednesday night at 7:05, as we wind down to the last five days (and six games) of the home schedule for 2011.