Second Thoughts Game #157: White Sox 4, Indians 5
First Things First…
I give this win to Terry Francona.
I, and probably many others, was entirely skeptical about the decision to keep Jason Giambi on the roster out of spring training. I was even more skeptical of his inclusion on the roster when injuries hit and Giambi proved incapable of picking up extra at-bats. Terry Francona has stuck by Giambi all season and has consistently told anyone who asked how important he thinks he is to the team. It wasn’t about his leadership or presence in the clubhouse in this game, it was ability to come off the bench in the bottom of the ninth inning and get the team its biggest hit of the season.
Are there any more questions about whether or not Giambi is going to be on the postseason roster? He’s going to be there, he deserves to be there, and this time around you’re not going to hear a complaint out of me.
How come it seems like the games Chris Perez blows are the really, really big ones?
With how well the Rangers and Rays are playing lately the Indians can’t afford to lose games, especially not ones in which they’re leading going into the ninth inning. Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis got the crowd into the game with the seventh-inning comeback, and Joe Smith had them rocking in the eight with a dominant inning to get the ball into Perez’s hands. Then, two solo home-runs later, the game seemed lost and Perez was walking off the field to a loud chorus of boos after being pulled by Francona.
The bigger issue with Perez is the postseason is looming and he can hardly be counted on in the ninth inning. The Indians may have escaped with a victory in this game, but I doubt they’ll be so lucky in the playoffs. Perez has struggled in nearly every appearance in September, and wasn’t much better in August. My hope is that if it comes down to it, Francona keeps him on a very short leash in future appearances.
Brantley deserves his own section.
In the Indians last eight games, Brantley has a .467 average and has been the team’s best hitter during its current hot streak. He has six RBI’s in the last three games, including two of the team’s three RBI’s prior to the Giambi homer. He’s not just getting the job done in clutch situations; he’s getting it done in all situations. Even in the bottom of the ninth it was Brantley reaching base that allowed Giambi an opportunity to bat.
We’ve talked at length about his performance in clutch at-bats this season, but right now with every at-bat being important, he’s taken his game to another level.
Don’t look now, but the Indians have won 10 of their last 12 games, including five in a row. Unfortunately, the Rays have kept pace with five straight wins of their own. Both teams are keeping pressure on one another and streaking to the finish line.
The Rays play the Yankees two more times before finishing the season with a three game set against the Blue Jays, with all five of those games being played on the road. Tampa Bay will throw David Price versus Phil Hughes on Wednesday and Alex Cobb versus Ivan Nova on Thursday. You’d almost have to consider the Rays the favorite on paper in both of those games. With the way they are playing the Indians might have to win every game left to be the home team in a one game playoff scenario.
Lying in the shadows are the Texas Rangers, just one game back from the Indians and two games back of the Rays. The Rangers still have one more game against an inept Astros team, and will have a good shot at finishing up the sweep on Wednesday night. Then they’ll move on to face the Angels in a four-game series. Looking through the matchups, I think the Rangers should take three of four in that series. If you assume that, and Texas beating Houston, that means the Indians can’t afford to lose more than two more games to tie Texas for the final wildcard spot.
On another note, it looks like the Rays have positioned David Price to take the start in the one-game playoff. If they hold to the normal schedule of their rotation, it appears Martin Perez could take the start for Texas in the one-game playoff. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them move Yu Darvish back or Matt Garza forward to make that start instead.
-Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t as sharp as we’d seen him in his last few starts, but still continued his streak of good starts. He’s now had seven quality starts in a row. Hopefully the next time we see him he’s on the mound in the one-game playoff or wildcard game.
-Michael Bourn left the game in the ninth inning with a right wrist sprain, suffered on a slide into second base in the fifth. The Indians are calling him day-to-day, which is good news.
-This is the first time the Indians have won 50 games in a season at home since 2007.