Second Thoughts Game #149: Indians 7, White Sox 1
Tribe completes series sweep and inch closer in wild card race
Player of the Game: Matt Carson (3-for-3 with a HR and 2 RBI)
Even rain couldn’t cool off a surging Indians offense, as they completed the series sweep over their division rival White Sox Sunday afternoon, 7-1.
After a rain delay of four hours and 23 minutes delayed the start time of the ballgame, it took the Tribe just two hours and 39 minutes to win their fourth straight over the last place Pale Hose. More importantly, the victory marks the first time since 2008 Cleveland has won 81 games in a season, as they continue to make their way toward October.
It also marks the second time the Tribe has swept a four-game series in Chicago this season, after not having accomplished the feat since 1948.
So, you still think Nick Swisher is having an off year at the plate?
The Mayor of Brohio may have changed all that with two swings of the bat Sunday. Swisher launched homer No. 19 form the right side of the plate in the sixth inning before belting home run No. 20 from the left side in the ninth.
Now having slugged 20 long balls on the year, it marks the ninth straight season the Tribe first baseman has hit at least 20 in his career. Not only that, Swisher also ties his former New York Yankees teammate Mark Teixeira for the most games with a home run from both sides of the plate, as the duo has accomplished it 13 times in each of their careers.
Boy has Swisher gotten hot when the team has needed it the most. Over his last nine games, the switch-hitter is batting .324 (12-for-37) with five home runs, 11 RBI and nine runs scored.
He also becomes the first Indians player since Carlos Santana (28) and Asdrubal Cabrera (25) back in 2011 to hit 20 homers. If Cleveland has any chance at playing in October, they will need Swisher to continue to stay consistent at the plate until the season closes.
The Matt Carson Show
I’ll be brutally honest; Matt Carson would have never been a September call-up on this team if the decision was up to me earlier this month.
I guess that’s why Terry Francona has two World Series rings and I don’t, right? Well, no matter the case, Tito made the right gut call in starting Carson against White Sox ace Chris Sale. The 32-year-old journeyman didn’t disappoint, finishing the ballgame 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI.
All he has done since being recalled by the Tribe is hit, going 6-for-8 (.750) with a home run and two RBI and three runs scored in 10 games. While Carson wearing No. 7 on his back won’t make you forget about the likes of Kenny Lofton, he has done a great job when being called upon and that’s all you can ask for when given an opportunity.
McAllister bounces back
Indians starter Zach McAllister (8-9, 3.96 ERA) looked arguably his best since returning from the disabled list with a finger injury July 23.
After allowing four runs or more in his previous three starts, Z-Mac looked like his old self Sunday afternoon even after the long rain delay. Giving up one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out five, McAllister has been about as consistent as you can be over the last two seasons.
Throwing 67 of his 96 pitches for strikes, here are his numbers the past two years:
2012: (6-8, 4.24 ERA) in 22 starts giving up 59 runs, 133 hits in 125.1 innings (38 BB / 110 SO)
2013: (8-9, 3.96 ERA) in 22 starts giving up 55 runs, 124 hits in 125 innings (45 BB / 95 SO)
Like Swisher offensively, the team will need McAllister to continue to eat up innings and give the Tribe quality starts over the final two weeks of the season.
It’s mind boggling to think the Indians can continue to rough up former All-Star and Cy Young winners, but can never seem to figure out a rookie making one of his first few starts in the majors.
This was exactly the case again, for the fourth time against the two-time All-Star in Sale (11-13, 3.08 ERA). Allowing six runs over 5 1/3 innings on nine hits, the Chicago ace falls to a winless 0-4 against the Tribe this season with an 8.61 ERA. Offensively, the Indians have bumped him for five or more runs in three of his four starts against them.
The game of baseball can be strange sometimes, and this case is no different.
Winners of four straight, Cleveland (81-68) move to just a half game in back of the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays for both A.L. wild card spots. The last time they were this close in the wild card race was August 5.
The team improves to 10-4 in September with only 13 games remaining on the schedule.
Up next for the Indians: The surging Tribe will now travel to Kansas City for another three-game series with the Royals beginning Monday. Left-hander Scott Kazmir (8-8, 4.24 ERA) once again matches up with K.C. ace James Shields (11-9, 3.38 ERA) in the series opener like they did just five days ago on September 11. Kazmir allowed three runs on nine hits in only four innings in that ballgame last Wednesday, while Shields limited Indians bats to two runs on two hits over eight innings for the victory.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Current record 81-68.
Against White Sox 15 - 2
Tigers 4 - 15
Total 19 - 17
Against everyone else 62 - 51 + 11
By beating up on white sox has helped to take the sting away on how poorly they have played against the tigers.
As tony has said in the past its not who you beat but how many wins you end up at the end.
This team has nine lives. The keep finding a away to stay in the hunt. A true blue collar team. Cleveland embrace this team!!! If they make it to the post season it could be wild October in C-Town.
No mention of Tito and staff let alone the growing legend of Matt Carson.
13 games left and this team is positioned to pass two slumping favorites - Tampa and the mighty Rangers.
Every underperformance this year is forgotten if this team goes 10-3 and makes the post season. What an amazing possibility.
Hands down, Tito is this years Einstein.
I love Francona's decision making lately. Getting Ramirez, Carson, Raburn and Gomes into the same lineup against one of the best lefties in baseball. I'm with Jim, I never would've called up Carson in the first place, but if you're going to call him up, games like yesterday are the time to use him.