The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Never change the channel

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 August 2006

The Indians won last night, improbably, over the Royals, 15-13, in the most dramatic game this season.

Kansas City scored 10 runs in the first inning. Indians starter Paul Byrd went 2/3 innings and gave up nine runs (three earned) on two homers, a triple, an a slew of singles and doubles. It wasn’t pretty. But then the Indians started chipping away–a couple runs in the third, a few in the fourth–and I was reminded of a game from about a month ago against the Tigers in which the Indians gave up five unearned runs in the first inning, battled back to within a couple of runs, but ultimately lost. This was about the time when the influx of rookies started, an influx that has brought, night in and night out, anywhere from three to six players in the lineup, all of whom, with the exception of Hector Luna, rookies. The Indians battled back that night, and I wrote:

The Indians have pratically no chance of making the playoffs. This much is true. But there is a gritty poignancy in fighting whatever undesirable fate looms on the horizen. The Indians may not make the playoffs, but there is still dignity to be had and honor to be earned.

A writer once wrote, “As if it matters how a man falls down. When the fall is all that’s left, it matters.”

Indeed.

The last time a team lost after scoring at least 10 runs in the first inning was 1989 (Phillies). This was the only time, prior to tonight, such a feat occurred. Thought maybe you’d like to know this. Moving along…

Last night’s game was reminiscent of the greatest comeback in MLB history. Though that Indians team featured some of the best players in the club’s history–Thome, Lofton, Vizquel, Alomar–and the most indelible image of that game is Lofton practically skipping home in the bottom of the 11th, you might not remember who drove in Lofton with the game-winning single. Give up? Jolbert Cabrera, who came in for Alomar after Seattle scored 12 runs in the first few innings. Do you remember Eddie Taubensee, who took over at DH for Juan Gonzalez? Me neither. The truth is, for as many players on that Indians team that are memorable, there was an equal number of utterly forgettable names who contributed to the win. Coming back after being down 14-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning is nuts. But doing so with the Eddie Taubensees and Jolbert Cabreras of the world makes the comeback even more remarkable.

So it was tonight. Ryan Garko drove in the game-winning run with a two-out single in the top of the 10th inning. Shin-Soo Choo drove in the game-tying run in the top of the ninth with a two-out triple. Hector Luna drove in four runs and scored the game-tying run. Franklin Gutierrez went 2-4. After clawing back to within one run at 9-10 in the top of the sixth only to see Fuasto Carmona give up three runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Indians scored four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Carmona notwithstanding, the bullpen performed admirably. When Jason Davis showed up at Kauffman Stadium this afternoon I’m sure he wasn’t planning on entering the game in the first inning. He went 3.1 innings and allowed one run. Rafael Betancourt pitched two scoreless innings, including the bottom of the ninth, to earn the win. Tom Mastny pitched the 10th, striking out the last two batters, to earn his second career save.

If in five years any of these names are as forgettable as Taubensee and Cabrera no one would be surprised. I hope Choo and Garko and Carmona and Mastny continue to develop and turn into everyday players for the Indians; but I also had the same hopes for Russell Branyan and Marty Cordova. But this is neither here nor there. All that matters is that the team–Hafner, Sizemore, Garko, and Luna; the bullpen–failed to wither under the weight of a nine-run first-inning deficit. Whatever faults plague Eric Wedge as a manager–and they are legion–he has always been able to summon from the team effort in circumstances when something less than that would suffice. If the Indians had lost the game tonight, say, 11-13 or 10-13 or even 9-13, I would have been quite impressed by the fortitude necessary to continue in the face of such a deficit. Scoring nine runs in such circumstances would have reaffirmed why I enjoy watching this team (allowing 10 runs in the first inning, in all fairness, is why I hate watching this team) and continue to do so. Even though the Indians have practically no chance of making the playoffs, the games still matter and the Indians don’t quit.

So he we are once again. And once again, I’m moved to say the following:

There is a gritty poignancy in fighting whatever undesirable fate looms on the horizen. The Indians may not make the playoffs, but there is still dignity to be had and honor to be earned.

A writer once wrote, “As if it matters how a man falls down. When the fall is all that’s left, it matters.”

Indeed.

Now, if we can just work on not giving up 10 runs in the first inning…

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2 Responses to “Never change the channel”

  1. Jon said

    You beat me to the effort of trying to put that ridiculous game into words.

    mlb.tv blacked out the game where I live (nebraska) so I had to follow it on gameday. you’d think with the relative distance from here to K.C. it’d be on tv but they only show one game a week.

    when I left for work it was 13-9. my girlfriend called me at work to tell me cleveland had won. I seriously didnt believe her until i turned on the tv to see the score. unbelievable

    the bitch about it is I was supposed to BE there. the 10 hours in a car would have been well worth it.

    take care
    Jon

  2. Wow, I can’t even imagine being there as an Indians fan. The stadium emptied fairly quickly after the Indians took the lead in the 10th, and this is after it emptied a little when KC went up 13-9. I probably would’ve tried to take over an entire section with the 500 or so Indians fans there. Or maybe tried take a run around the stadium, like of like a victory lap.

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