But that's just what the Indians did on Monday night. They wiped out a big deficit, added on more runs, then went on to win a slugfest with the Tigers, 10-8, in front of 22,713 at The Jake.
Fold? No, the Indians couldn't. Every player in the team's clubhouse had longed to play meaningful games in the last weeks of the season. The players said so often. Now, every game they play, with a Wild Card spot within their reach, is meaningful.They played the Tigers as if a lot were at stake, too. For after seeing Elarton pounded in the first, they rebounded against Bonderman. As usual, Grady Sizemore ignited the Tribe's comeback. He singled, Coco Crisp doubled Sizemore home and Jhonny Peralta doubled Crisp home. It was a nice start toward getting back into the game, but the Tribe had more to do. Travis Hafner stroked a grounder just inside first-base line that looked as if it would end up as a double and another run. But Carlos Pena speared it and beat Hafner to the bag for the inning's first out. Peralta moved to third on the play, and he would score on Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly. The Indians had more to do against Bonderman (14-11, 4.44 ERA), one of the best young pitchers in the game.
"He's had a great year," manager Eric Wedge said. "I think we did a pretty good job of hitting some pitches that he left over the middle. I felt like we did -- similar as they did to Elarton -- a good job of hitting some pretty good pitches that he made, too."
It was a not-so-good pitch, though, that the Indians used to keep their first inning alive. It led to Ronnie Belliard's easy ground ball to Tigers shortstop Omar Infante, who turned that easy grounder into an error that opened the door for three more runs. Ben Broussard's triple knocked in Belliard, Aaron Boone's single knocked in Broussard and Blake's double knocked in Boone.Six hits, six runs and a standing ovation. "We felt it," Wedge said. "Everybody in there felt it. It was almost a confirmation in terms of what these guys have been doing. The people who were here tonight showed a great appreciation for our team." In Wedge's mind, fans saw a typical performance. They saw a team that didn't give in to adversity and that played each out, even on a night when its starting pitching, a strength this season, let the ballclub down. Other parts of the team chipped in and helped. It was the offense first, the defense throughout and finally the bullpen, which got rock-solid performances from winner Fernando Cabrera (2-0, 1.40 ERA), Rafael Betancourt, Bob Howry and Bob Wickman. "It was a lot of people that contributed to this day," Wedge said. "But our bullpen did an outstanding job, needless to say. So did our offense." The offense prompted the cheers, even if it wasn't the packed house that cheered wildly for the Indians teams of the '90s. "We've gotta win games, and everybody knows it," Broussard said. "It would be nice if it was a packed house. ... This place is a rockin' place when it's a packed house."
Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.