The Cleveland Indians were eliminated from the playoffs yesterday. Two men deserve the blame; Joel Skinner and Casey Blake. Let me set the stage for you.
It is 3-2 in the top of the seventh. Runners at 1st and 2nd, with Kennington Q. Loftington the lead runner. Now, earlier, he had been thrown out by former Indian Manny Ramirez stretching a single into a double. I was pissed at the time, but it was a brilliant play by Manny, as the ball shot off the Green Monster and he fired it into second. It is the kind of skill that comes from being at home. So Franklin Gutierrez drills a single that kicks fair, bounces off that weird angle along the third base line, and heads towards Manny. Manny is extremely unconvinced this play is important and is jogging towards the ball. Kenny is shooting around third, getting ready to head for home and…
Is held up by third base coach Joel Skinner.
Lofton is one of the fastest runners on either team, even at his advanced age, Manny didn’t even try to get the ball, AND Skinner held him up. The tying run. On third base. In Game 7! Tim McCarver even blasted him, as did Joe Buck, and for once they were right.
According to Skinner on Indians.com, “I’ve had plays where the ball kicks off and goes right to the shortstop,” Skinner said. “Where I’m at, I have to make a decision, and I did. From a higher vantage point, you might see the carom better, but from the ground level, it looked like it struck right behind shortstop.”
Here’s the problem: YOU INITIALLY SENT LOFTON AND CHANGED YOUR MIND!
Now, Casey Blake, you get some blame here too.
First, you took the situation the Indians were in (still an excellent one), and eliminated it because, like most of the Indians last night, YOU WON’T TAKE A FUCKING PITCH. You swing at the first pitch you see and immediately ground into an easy double play. Then you take your shitty at-bat into the very next inning and blow an easy play to throw out Ellsbury. Next hitter, Dustin Pedroia, puts it over the wall, game over, and I turn off the TV (which I’m glad I did).
Wedge managed the game fairly well, Garko was amazing, and Westbrook was FAR better than Matsuzaka. Betancourt stunk, but he was put into a position to win by Blake and Skinner’s idiocy. I’m pretty sure we’ll be back there again next year, as no one had a career year that was out of their reach (although Carmona will regress). This one hurts, though.