As much as I would love to see the Indians win the AL Central and topple the Tigers into some shame, let's keep things in perspective. Baltimore is sitting at 58-48, five games out of the AL East. Tampa and Boston seem to be in a war for the division and thus, have a nice hold on a wild card.Don't look now, but after taking it to Texas, the Indians are very much in the hunt for a wild card. You thought the only route to the playoffs was with the AL Central? Well, look again. The Indians are in the thick of things. If they can get to the dance by winning a chance to partake in the Wild Card playoff game, I would take it in a heartbeat.
But, that's getting ahead of things. While the Indians are just a half game back of the Orioles, they can see a division leader really close up ahead of them. And with five straight, they may be getting closer.
Somewhere, Hawk Harrelson is crying. Or, he's just not saying anything, because you know he's just a poor sport.
WHITE SOX - 2 | INDIANS - 2
W: Chris Perez (3-1)
L: Ramon Troncoso (1-3)
I'm not going to go into it. I mean, it is fun to bring up, but every time he comes up with a big hit, it is worth mentioning.
However, I'm actually kind of annoyed with myself in having to say it again, so I'm not going to say it. I'll just cut to the chase. Jason Giambi doesn't prove his usefulness with just a single walkoff home run.
"What he does," Francona said, "before he even steps in the batter's box, you can't put a price on it. And then, when he does what he does there, it makes his value [even higher]. ... You could fill up a book, because I keep trying to say how I feel about him, and I just don't feel like I ever quite get there. That's how valuable I feel like he is to our team."
But it is that walkoff home run, as well as all the other things he does in the clubhouse, the leadership, etc. Also add in the at-bats he puts up. He may not be hitting above .200, but when he goes up, he doesn't give away the at-bat. Another thing. The lack of starts makes those numbers irrelevant.
The man is just as much a piece to this 2013 team as Asdrubal Cabrera or Jason Kipnis. Is he a bigger piece? It doesn't matter, he's part of the puzzle of this team. He fits.
So you might as get used to it. This team doesn't need offense or another bat, or a piece anywhere else. Giambi is here to stay and I think everyone that realizes that is happy about it. There are a lot of things he does that other players don't do. Aaron Cunningham was a waste of a roster spot last year. Brent Lillibridge was taking up space.
Jason Giambi may have the same average, but he is far from a waste of a roster spot. Of course, he also has a lot more run production because he's made all those hits count, but the man does not waste a space down at the end of that bench.
"It's incredible just to contribute," Giambi said. "I don't think in that situation, I'm thinking about anything. I'm just excited. That's what keeps you coming back every single year, is that moment. Winning a ballgame and celebrating as a ballclub -- there's nothing better."
And heck, if you make a mistake to him, like Troncoso did last night, that will happen.
The other story to me was the lack of mistakes Zach McAllister made. He gave up a few two-out hits there in the sixth, but his offense helped him out and he was able to look like the McAllister who we've become accustomed to this year. After that first start coming out of the break and off his injury, McAllister fell into a groove against Chicago.
With 70 percent of his pitches thrown for strikes, McAllister kept the traffic to a minimum with just a walk and five hits (three of them coming in that sixth to score runs of course), and when all was said and done, has left the Indians with a completely filled out rotation and the confidence that they have one.
The lone spot was the sixth when the Sox had the three hits, simply where Z-Mac kept the ball up.
"I left a few pitches up," McAllister said. "Whether they hit it hard or they don't, they're good hitters, and they can put the ball in play and make you pay for mistakes."
Another starter pitching deep into the game? Until the sixth, he had a shutout going, something this staff has been able to do quite frequently this year. Z-Mac was sharp, much more sharp than his last time out. He seems to now have his rust worked off and his sharpness back. It's been awhile, but it is good to have the usual Z-Mac back.
Some excellent catches in the outfield all game long. Michael Brantley ran one down late, that's after Ryan Raburn had run one in the gap down earlier in left field. overall, despite two more errors (one by Cody Allen), the defense seems to be getting better.
Strangely enough, Mike Aviles, who just remarked how well the Indians played defensively the other night, committed an error at third trying to field a ball. No harm, no foul though.
Jason Kipnis' bunt really put the pressure on and of course, because it didn't result in an out, let that groundball Cabrera hit score a run. Of course it was a double play that could have netted two outs, but when you get the job done, you get the job done.
The first run came on a sac fly by Carlos Santana that was set up by a throwing error in the second inning. Raburn doubled after the error to get Cabrera to third. A few manufactured runs and a walk-off? Whatever gets the job done. It isn't often two teams each have 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position and the team with two hits loses to the team with one.
No comment on the botched call with Ramirez stealing second base later in the game. Whatever. These bad calls happen. They'll continue to as long as there is no replay on those plays. They're incredibly difficult to make because of positioning.
Rich Hill's strikeout of Adam Dunn to end the eighth inning was exhilarating and perhaps the single best thing he's done all year.
The win went to Chris Perez, who was as good as he's been all year. 10 pitches, three outs, even though he gave up a hit, he threw seven strikes and got the Indians in and out of that ninth to do what Giambi did to win it.
You can also put a W by Giambi's name. His walk-off at the age of 42 made him the oldest player to do so ever, beating Hank Aaron in 1976. Aaron was 42 and 157 days old, Giambi gets him by 45 days.
All Francona was thinking in this photo is "put me down put me down put me down, I'm scared." Tito said it was fun until it started to hurt.
We just talked about the trade market for relief pitchers yesterday and like clockwork, pieces fell as fast as level ten on Tetris. Three relievers got moved in deals, one involving a player who was probably being eyed by several teams, and one involving a team we knew needed help.
The Braves went ahead and traded for Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels, the more under the radar of the three moves. And Tampa Bay grabbed Jesse Crain from the White Sox, a deal that will probably be based off how much Crain pitches and how well he does considering he's currently hurt and on the disabled list.
The other move was by the Tigers, who may have not grabbed a bonafied closer, but they grabbed one team's closer. Houston's Jose Veras, former Indian, is off to Detroit in the swap. Veras may not fit into that closer spot, but he's definitely one more better option than what the Tigers had.
And if they do grab a closer, Veras fits in well as a setup man. He's a different pitcher since when he was with the Tribe, finding a home and a role in Houston as their closer the past few years. We'll see how much he helps the Tigers. One thing is for sure, it won't push the Indians into doing something just because the team they're neck-and-neck with did.
"I just think that Chris has a real good grasp of who we are and where we're going, and how we're trying to get there," Francona said. "I don't think he'll ever lose sight of that, and I mean that in a good way."
That being said, don't expect the Indians to not try and make a move. They will if it's there and judging by the three guys that got moved on Monday, there could be some options out there that they go after. One name that was floated out there by Joel Sherman of the New York Post was Colorado's Josh Outman. Sherman says that the Indians have had talks with the Rockies about the left-hander. The starter turned reliever has been okay in the pen for the Rox, striking out 41 in 38 innings with a 4.50 ERA. However he does have a .224 average against lefties and despite playing in Colorado, keeps the ball in the park. He's faced lefties just as much as righties, and that's what kills him, the right-handed hitters.
So in the realm of acquiring someone who can get lefties out, Outman would fit the bill.
I tell you what though, if the starting pitching keeps going the way they are, they won't even need that many relievers to do the job. After McAllister's seven strong, the Indians starters continue to not only put up good starts, but continue to go really deep into the ball game. It marks the third straight start that a starter went at least seven.
"They've given us a chance to win every night," manager Terry Francona said. "Even the nights when we kind of kick the ball around, or we didn't hit, we had a chance to win every game, because of our pitching. That's a good way to play."
The scoreless streak they had going was extended with McAllister's start, meaning the Indians eclipsed the 22 consecutive innings of scoreless baseball that the starting rotation in 2008 was able to put together. Perhaps in it all, just to show you how good the rotation has been, in the past 17 games, they've been tagged with just two losses.
The shutouts over the weekend upped the count to 14 on the season, which leads all of baseball. It is the most since 1976 and the 11 home shutouts is the most in Progressive Field history. With three more at home they tie the mark of the 1948 championship team at 14 and three more total ties the 1976 team's mark of 17. Four more shutouts and we're talking about a special squad.
No envy in the job Terry Francona has to do when it comes to Mark Reynolds. Thankfully, Reynolds is a vet and understands the situation he's now in because of his cold icicle of a bat. Tito will do what he can, but Reynolds' starts will be few and far between.
"I told him this the other day. I was like, 'I'll do my best.' It's like you try to strike a balance between knowing that you have a guy that has a dangerous bat, hasn't been swinging it, you have other guys that have, so you kind of walk that fine line. I'm going to do the best I can."
Reynolds says he's in the cage and putting in extra work when he can so he stays on his approach. He says he's not trying to do too much, and he may be past that part of doing too much. He's now in a spot where he's just not doing much of anything at all. The good news is that Reynolds, while hit-less in his three at-bats last night, garnered two walks. That's the first step in getting things right, being patient and waiting for the right pitch.
Brett Myers trying to take that first step yet again, threw a bullpen session on Monday. No report on how it went for the right-hander, but I guess it is good news that he's actually throwing again. We'll see if he can get past the next hurdle.
Nino is in full baseball mode here and on The Tribe Daily, his own Indians blog. Don't miss all the fun, photoshopped Indians players, and LOLTribe ridiciulousness.