Well, I’m not sure where to start tonight. Let’s try the Indians. A one out hit by Victor in the bottom of the ninth earned him a seat on the bench as Barfield came in to run. (I had to remind myself that Wedge had been ejected already, because I was ready to jump on him for that one.) Garko gets drilled in the elbow, pushing Barfield to second. Peralta flies out, leaving the runners where they were. Gutierrez works a walk with some rare plate discipline, loading the bases and setting the stage for Lofton. Two outs, bottom of the ninth in a tie game. The count goes full. Lofton fouls off a high outside pitch that could have ended it. Next pitch…did I mention it was a tie game? Do you know why?
Back-up to the top of the ninth. We have a 5-4 lead. The only reason we had a lead was very timely hitting by, well most of the line-up. See, all of our runs scored with two outs. In fact we had 8 hits with two outs. So Laffey pitched well enough to win, Perez allowed runners to score for the first time since like 1999, and we came back to take the lead. Done deal right? Not really. Enter Joe Bo. He walked the lead off batter. Gave up a single, then a sacrifice bunt. The tying run scored on a ball that just got past Borowski, but was handled by Cabrera for an out. Joe got his 6th blown save, and nearly his 6th loss.
There has been much discussion about Borowski this season. His “numbers” indicate that he is one of the top closers in the league this year. Of course the number everyone is talking about is saves. Yes, he has 39 saves, to lead the league. His era however is nearly TRIPLE Putz, Paplebon, and Nathan. He has given up more earned runs than ANY OTHER RELIEVER WITH MORE THAN 1 SAVE. He leads the league in blown saves. Truth is, he gets more opportunities for saves than any other closer. That is why he leads the league. Sure he isn’t the absolute worst, but tell me, are you comfortable handing him the ball in the ninth? I think I know what it is about him. You just don’t know how he’s going to get people out. Take tonight for example. He actually got ahead of the hitters, but then he nibbled, and nibbled, and missed the spots, and ended up walking the tying run. He doesn’t have a devastating pitch that he can use to get hitters out. You just don’t know what to expect from him night after night. It is frustrating. Do I think we should yank him and put Betancourt in there? not really, but I think that going to the post-season with him will cost us at least a game somewhere. I just hope we can recover like we did tonight.
Speaking of that…the next pitch to Lofton was inside. Ball 4, ballgame.
As for the Browns, what can I say? The special teams looked real good tonight (that was a little obvious though huh?) Cribbs deserved a game-ball for his returns (1 for a touchdown) and his offensive play. The starters looked uninspired. Now, I know Donavon and Kosar (I’m not going there tonight) talked up the defense and truth be told they held the Bears starting O without a first down, but to be honest the Bears looked like they were hibernating. I put no stock in really anything that we did, other than the special teams play. We clearly outperformed them in that area. Travis Wilson should thank Brady Quinn for helping him stay on this team. Brady kept feeding him a steady diet of short slant passes that Wilson actually caught. I don’t know if he did enough to move up the depth chart, but had he dropped more passes tonight I wonder what might have happened to him.
Frye’s performance was very brief. Anderson moved the team, but again failed to score a touchdown from point blank range. Quinn looked a little more like a rookie tonight than in the previous outings. He certainly locked onto Wilson and rode him all night. He had a few passes batted, one ended up in the arms of a Bears linebacker. He did nothing in my book to make Crennel think he should start over Frye against the Steelers.
Most importantly the team seemed to escape with no injuries. Jerome Harrison left the game, and I haven’t heard a report on him, so that may be premature. A win is a win in pre-season. The Browns finished the exhibition schedule 3-1. Let’s get ready to rumble with Steely McBeam’s crew.