The Cleveland Indians had dropped a series to the lowly Houston Astros. The Chicago White Sox improved their lineup with the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis. The Detroit Tigers have finally figured out a way to get runners on base in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. And the best roster move the Indians can make is to add Vinny Rottino!
So the last thing the Tribe needed was to be swept by the New York Yankees. But that is just what happened.
Maybe the ninth inning of the last game of the series was the turning point of the Tribe's season. Down 5-3, the team rallied to load the bases with one man out against Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano. So up to the plate comes Johnny Damon as a pinch hitter with his .212 average. Bleacher Report writer Evan Vogel, among others, has questioned why Damon is even still on the roster. Not surprisingly, Damon promptly struck out.
But with the top of the order coming up, there was still hope. Michael Brantley worked out a walk to force in a run and make the score 5-4. So it came down to Asdrubal Cabrera, who has been a pretty consistent offensive producer this year. Cabrera flied out to left field to end the game and, I believe, the Tribe's chances to win the AL Central.
Manny Acta has done a good job of holding things together and keeping the team in contention. But I believe that the house of cards has now started to crumble, and the Tribe will soon be looking up at both the Tigers and the White Sox.
But on the other hand, maybe this little bump along the road could cause team management to take some decisive steps, making three necessary roster improvements: release Damon, acquire an experienced starting pitcher (maybe Ryan Dempster) and get another right-handed bat in the lineup, even if it is just Matt LaPorta. If anyone thinks Vinny Rottino is the answer, I have a bridge that I would like to sell you.
As for me, I've seen enough. I've spent a month following and writing about the Indians. If they manage to stay in contention, I'll come back in September. For now, I'll find another Cinderella team to follow next month.