Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Indians drop season opener to Rangers, 9-1

"There's always next year," Wedge says.

Dateline: April 6th, 2009; Arlington, Texas
by Keith is Good! Sports!

The ball fell from a pearl blue sky and nestled into the glove of third baseman Michael Young with the leathery hiss of finality. Travis Hafner lingered at first base as relief pitcher Frank Fransisco pumped his arms in victory, and with a doleful shake of his great head, the would-be Casey slumped back to the visitors dugout. The Tribe fell 8 runs shy of an epic 9th inning comeback, losing their opening game 9-1 to Texas. The loss drops them into a tie for last in the AL and dashes any hopes of postseason play.

After the game, a deflated Indians manager Eric Wedge summed the situation:

"This season, we were only going as far as [reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff] Lee's arm would take us." Wedge sighed, rubbing darkened stubble over his chin. "He took us an inning and two thirds."

After an offense-free inning and a half (including a soul-crushing double play off the bat of Indians slugger Victor Martinez), Texas pounced in bottom of the second like a cat on a badly injured mouse. A parade of hit after hit -- the likes of which not seen since N*Sync's run on the Billboard Top 40 circa 1999 -- including RBI singles by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ian Kinsler brought the tally to 4-0 by inning's end. Cleveland's post-season hopes were crushed; dreams of the 2009 AL Pennant flying over Progressive Field waved "Bye, Bye, Bye." *

When asked post-game about the one-out line drive deflected off his forearm that seemed to spark Texas' second inning rally, Cliff Lee, in the usual fashon, shrugged the blow off. "Eh," he huffed, "I don't think that made a difference. I felt good, felt like I was hitting my spots."

Lee's 'spots,' however, tended to be middle of the plate waist-high, which Texas batters promptly launched into the stratosphere. In five innings of 'work,' Lee allowed seven earned runs on ten hits, bringing the Tribe's post-season express to a grinding halt.

"We gave this thing a good run..." Wedge said, eyes drifting to the ceiling of the visitors office. He lingered for a moment, and returned with a hopeful glimmer in his eye. "There's always next year, right? Adam Miller, Carlos Santana, Trevor Crowe and Matt LaPorta coming up through the minors? 2010 is gonna be awesome!"

Indeed, the hopeful chorus "There's always next year," is one well-sung by Tribe faithful, going on fifty-two years without a championship by the (sometimes flaming, always toxic) shores of Lake Erie. With another miserable Indians season dead and buried, its now time for Cleveland faithful to turn their hopes to the beloved Browns. Of course, in all honesty, even that hope will probably die a pitiful bloodless death when the Brownies bungle April 25th's NFL Draft.

Well...at least we got LeBron...until he goes to the Knicks, anyway.

*Author's note: It should be noted here that the last real "winner" we had in Cleveland was Major League. And even that was followed by the wretched Major League 2 and the unspeakably bad Major League 3: Back to the Minors^.

^Note on Author's Note: Mad props to Scott Backula, though. Quantum Leap was the shiz.

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