CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Indians derailed by early big inning

Indians derailed by early big inning

CLEVELAND -- Every team in baseball makes errors.

But when the Indians make errors in this '06 season, the baseball gods seem to swarm upon them with unforgiving wrath.

Such was the case in Monday night's 9-7 loss to the Tigers at Jacobs Field, when a first-inning error by first baseman Ben Broussard opened the door to a five-run outburst from the visitors. The Indians fought valiantly but never fully recovered from that inning.

More

"That's the way our season's gone," manager Eric Wedge said. "I hate it. I don't like it. Sometimes the ball isn't bouncing our way, and sometimes it's us [at fault], as well. We can't make excuses. You either make the play or you don't."

Broussard didn't make the play in the first when leadoff man Curtis Granderson hit a bouncing ground ball his way. Broussard was able to knock it down and keep it in front of him, but he slipped trying to get to it, thwarting his attempts to nab the speedy Granderson.

"I was just thinking, 'Get in front of it,'" Broussard said. "It hit the lip [of the bag] and popped up. Usually, you've got time. But with Granderson running, I just rushed and grabbed the ball. He beat me to the bag."

If this season had any sort of flow, any sort of amnesty, any sort of lenience toward the Indians, left-hander Cliff Lee would have shrugged off the error and gotten three quick outs.

But that's just not the case for this edition of the Tribe.

Lee gave up a double to Ivan Rodriguez, an RBI single to Carlos Guillen, a single to Dmitri Young and a three-run homer to Brandon Inge -- five unearned runs that the Indians would haunt the Indians for the remainder of this three-hour, 48-minute display.

"That was some kind of bad," Wedge said of the first.

Lee blamed himself. For as much as Broussard's blunder put him in a bind, he didn't make the pitches to get out of trouble.

"It's not Benny's fault all that happened," said Lee, who lasted just four innings, in which he used 100 pitches. "I've got to do a better job getting out of the jam."

The Indians were in a jam all night, especially after Lee gave up another run in the fourth to make it 6-0.

As easy as it would have been to lay down, though, the Indians kept fighting at the plate. Broussard made some amends for his mistake with a solo shot off Jeremy Bonderman in the bottom of the fourth. In the fifth, after Dmitri Young went deep off reliever Fernando Cabrera, Ramon Vazquez punched out a two-run shot -- his first homer since the 2004 season -- and Travis Hafner added an RBI double to make it 7-4.

Cabrera settled in for three solid innings of work in which he struck out six batters, and his work allowed the Indians to keep chipping away.

When Hafner struck again off reliever Fernando Rodney in the seventh, lofting another RBI double to left, the Tribe was officially back in the ballgame. The score was 7-5.

And then? Well, you know how the Indians' luck has gone this year.

Much-maligned veteran Guillermo Mota was sent in to keep it close in the eighth, but all he did was let the Tigers tack two more runs onto their lead. RBI singles by Ivan Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen looked to be the decisive blows.

"His stuff was up," Wedge said of Mota. "He was just trying to work too hard."

That made it even harder for the Indians to stay in this one. They still managed to put up a pair of their own in the bottom of the inning, but it seemed as though the fates were conspiring against them.

"I don't even know how many times we came back," Wedge said. "To no avail."

By the time the last out was made in the ninth, when the Indians stranded a baserunner against closer Todd Jones, Wedge's club had endured its eighth loss in 10 games and fallen no less than 23 1/3 games back of the Tigers in the AL Central standings.

"This is [a tremendous] test we're in the middle of here," Wedge said. "We'll see what we're made of."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less