The Indians have finally hit rock bottom.
It took 83 games, from the time Cleveland dropped a road game to the Houston Astros on June 23 to Shin-Soo Choo striking out to end the game last night.
In that span, the Indians have gone from first to last place in the American League Central.
In an alternate baseball reality, the Indians are preparing themselves for a loser’s bracket of the playoffs.
Instead, the Minnesota Twins jumped on Zach McAllister and held their lead to the end as the Indians once again failed to produce against a weak opposing starting pitcher.
Liam Hendricks, entering the game with an 0-7 record and 6.14 ERA, cruised through six innings against the Tribe, allowing just a first-inning home run to Asdrubal Cabrera and one other run in his quality start.
The win was Hendricks’ first career victory in 18 starts since last season.
Meanwhile, Josh Willingham, whom the Indians flirted with picking up at the trade deadline amidst a collection of flailing left fielders (two of which, Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan, have since released), went 4-5 against Cleveland with four RBIs.
Manager Manny Acta succinctly told reporters that Willingham is a “good hitter” who has “been a good productive hitter for years now.”
Against the Indians, rather than for them.
Besides Cabrera’s solo shot, Jason Kipnis and Vinny Rottino made up the rest of the Tribe’s offense Wednesday night.
Rottino walked, stole a base and scored the second run off of Hendricks in the third on a Jason Kipnis singled.
Again in the eighth, trying to pull back into the game, Rottino led off with a double and scored his second run on another single by Kipnis.
Michael Brantley followed with a two-out single of his own, putting two men on and the go-ahead run at the plate in Travis Hafner.
Hafner, who’s games played mark has eclipsed triple digits only once since 2007, despite literally never taking the field defensively since that year.
Hafner, who had only played one game since July 31st and who’s absence in the lineup has been glaringly noticable.
Hafner, who hasn’t played in a game the Indians have won since July 26.
Hafner, who faced a full count off of pitcher Tyler Robertson with the tying man on base and had seen five straight sliders, waited cautiously for Robertson to break the chain and bury a fastball by him.
The sixth slider passed through his bat, the rally and inning came to an end, and the Indians went down quietly in the ninth to take sole possession of last place in front of a near-empty crowd on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
AL Central Scores for September 19, 2012
Chicago White Sox @ Kansas City Royals: 3-0
Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers: 6-2
Minnesota Twins @ Cleveland Indians
AL Central Standings for September 20, 2012
Chicago White Sox:..81-67…0 games back
Detroit Tigers:……….79-69….2.0 games back
Kansas City Royals:.67-81…17.0 games back
Minnesota Twins:……61-88….22.5 games back
Cleveland Indians.…..62-87….23.5 games back
AL Central Schedule for September 20, 2012
Minnesota Twins @ Cleveland Indians: 0-0 (third inning)
Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers – 1:05 p.m.
Chicago White Sox @ Kansas City Royals – 8:10 p.m.
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Can the Indians pull out of last place in the AL Central by the end of the season? Leave your thoughts below in the comment section!