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Tribe falls: a sweep


Tribe falls: a sweep
Less than 24 hours after a lengthy, players-only meeting Saturday night, the Indians charged out of the clubhouse Sunday and . . . lost again.

At least they scored a few runs. A team careening toward irrelevance before Memorial Day needs to restart somewhere.

The Indians whiffed nine times and went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 5-3 defeat to Detroit at Progressive Field.

They have lost four straight and sit 11-21, last in the American League Central.

"I know we're a better team than this," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "This is one heck of a gut check for us right now."

Wedge spoke with reporters from his office chair, as is the norm. He was considerably less tense than Saturday night, when he answered questions in a tunnel outside the clubhouse while his players presumably soul-searched after a 4-0 loss to the Tigers. In the opener of the series Friday night, the Tribe fell, 1-0.

"I care about all these players, and I really care about the fans," he said Sunday. "I know how disappointing and discouraging this is. It's my responsibility, and I take full responsibility for it. But the players have got to go out and play."

One who made sure to verbalize support for his manager in the postgame clubhouse was Victor Martinez, who happens to be the Tribe's best hitter.

"It's not Wedge's fault," he said. "I take all the blame. We take all the blame. . . . It's not Wedge's fault."

In case you missed it, Martinez does not think it's Wedge's fault, which means he does not think Wedge should be jettisoned.

"He's not the one playing," Martinez said. "I don't see any reason why he should pay for this."

Asked what is missing from the 2009 edition, Martinez said, "Energy and, you know, the fire, the fire to play this game."

As to why that would be, Martinez said: "Sometimes we get down on ourselves. We're really trying to do too much at one time. You can't get five hits in one at-bat. You can't get three homers in one at-bat. You have to take it pitch by pitch, at-bat by at-bat."

The plate appearances Sunday were not as painful to watch as most days, but they accomplished little until it was too late. Detroit cruised into the ninth with a 5-1 lead before the Indians made matters mildly interesting.

Unlike the previous two games, when starters Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson overpowered the Tribe, Rick Porcello appeared vulnerable. The talented rookie gave up one run on five hits in five innings, throwing 95 pitches.

Four relievers, including a shaky Fernando Rodney in the ninth, preserved the victory for Porcello.

The Tribe went 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position in the series.

"We have to do a better job of taking advantage of opportunities," Wedge said. "I'm still seeing too many pull-side ground balls, especially in hitters counts. You've got to use the field, you've got to drive the ball. We're still not squaring up pitches we need to square up. There's been a lot of just-missed foul balls or pop-ups."

And plenty of strikeouts. Indians batters have fanned 259 times in 1,114 official trips.

The club leader, Grady Sizemore, has 36 as his swing gets longer and longer. Sizemore went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the series finale. He is batting .227.

Sizemore dumped a single into right in the second inning to pull the Indians within 4-1. It was the Tribe's first run since the eighth inning Thursday in a loss at Boston. The offensive 0-fer ended at 20 innings.

The Indians scored twice in the ninth on a run-scoring double by Asdrubal Cabrera and a wild pitch by Rodney. The wild pitch occurred during Martinez's at-bat. Martinez worked out of an 0-2 hole and walked, putting runners at first and third with two outs. Shin-Soo Choo popped to right to end it.

Tribe right-hander Anthony Reyes (1-1, 7.20 ERA) gave up five runs on seven hits in five innings. Solid relief by Jensen Lewis, Tony Sipp and Matt Herges gave the Indians a chance, at least in theory.

"I fell behind and made some bad pitches," Reyes said. "I need to be more consistent in the zone and not fall behind hitters."

Reyes offered hope for long-starved Tribe fans.

"Once we fight through this, I think it's going to be a lot of fun watching us play," he said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: dmanoloff@plaind.com, 216-999-4664

BOX:

Today

What: Indians vs. Chicago White Sox.

When: 7:05 p.m.

Where: Progressive Field.

TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio; WMMS FM/100.7.

Pitchers: RHP Carl Pavano (2-3, 6.61 ERA) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (2-2, 6.29).

Weather: 56 degrees, mostly sunny, 10 percent chance of rain.

cleveland.com/tribe

Get in-game updates and photos tonight as the Indians open their series with the White Sox.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 12, 2009

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