Thanks to a four-game losing streak the Cleveland Indians will enter play Monday, July 23 under .500, a first since mid-April, at 47-48. Despite the losing record the Tribe remains in the AL Central title hunt, four-and-a-half games behind the now first place Detroit Tigers. However, with each loss the Indians shorten their room for error.
Personally I think no better word describes the Indians' play so far since the All-Star break than "frustrating." Tribe management and players repeatedly discuss how the team "hasn't played their best baseball yet." Cleveland's three straight losses to the Baltimore Orioles at home Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 22 showcase this as the team failed to harmonize the different elements of the game together.
For example, look at the bullpen's performances Friday, July 20 and Sunday, July 22. A disastrous start by Derek Lowe July 20 forced the Indians' relief corps to pitch six innings which they did successfully, only allowing one run during those frames. Unfortunately, Lowe pitched so poorly Cleveland didn't really possess any chance to come back and win.
Now fast forward to July 22. Starter Josh Tomlin gives his team a solid six innings, only allowing two runs. Tomlin exited the game with the Tribe trailing 2-0. If the Indians' bullpen could've provided a similar outing to their one July 20 the Indians either go on to win the game 3-2 or push extra innings tied at three apiece. Instead Cleveland loses 4-3, turning the team's three-run ninth inning rally into a mute-point.
Heck, even the three-run ninth inning rally serves as an example displaying the Cleveland Indians' inability to harmonize different elements of the game. Saturday, July 21 starter Zach McAllister provided the Tribe another quality start, only giving up three runs in seven-and-two-thirds innings. He became a tough luck loser though because Cleveland's offense failed to score beyond a first inning leadoff home run from right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. If Cleveland could've pulled out a three-run ninth inning rally July 21, they win 4-3. Frustrating right?
With that all expressed, please don't mistake my frustration for waving the white flag on the season. Enough baseball remains for the Cleveland Indians to climb their way back to first place, especially when you consider the Tribe still plays the front running Tigers 12 more times starting with a three-game series Tuesday, July 24 through Thursday, July 26. To conclude let me deem this series the closest thing to "must win" July baseball.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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