Cleveland Guardians News

Cleveland Indians: Josh Donaldson arrives in 5-4 loss to Tigers

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Josh Donaldson did his part to lift the Cleveland Indians’ spirits in Friday’s loss, but if they want to win a World Series the whole team must be better.

The Cleveland Indians entered Friday night with a chance to clinch the AL Central for the third straight year. The Twins did their part by blowing a late lead to the Royals, but the Tribe fell short at home against Detroit.

The Indians now find themselves in the strange position of being able to clinch a division title in the middle of September without even winning a game. One more Twins loss secures the AL Central crown for Cleveland.

Among the bad news in Friday night’s 5-4 defeat is that the Indians spent the early innings making Tigers starter Matthew Boyd look like the second coming of Steve Carlton. Cleveland struck out seven times against the lefty in just 5.1 frames of work. The three strikeouts Boyd recorded in the first inning were the most damaging, as they stranded Francisco Lindor on third base after he reached with nobody out.

Josh Tomlin, to his credit, maneuvered through some shaky spots early on to keep the Tribe in a position to win. He gave up five hits, one walk and two runs in four innings, but stranded a handful of runners to give the team a chance.

The Tribe’s bats came to life in the bottom of the sixth as Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson launched back-to-back homers to tie the game at 2-2. Adam Cimber and Andrew Miller would immediately relinquish the tie, combining to allow two earned runs in the top of the seventh.

Another Tigers run would come across in the top of the eighth, putting the Indians in a 5-2 hole with the game on the line. Donaldson opened up the bottom of the ninth with a single, and pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez eventually scored in his stead. The Indians plated another run later in the inning, but ultimately stranded the tying run on second to end the game.

If there’s any reason to be encouraged after yet another maddening defeat, it’s that Donaldson did not disappoint in his Progressive Field debut. His sixth-inning moonshot tied the game and his single in the ninth ignited a rally that almost tied it again. Even in a loss, one can’t help but get excited about the impact he will have in more meaningful games down the stretch.

That said, the Indians are rapidly approaching the juncture of the season at which silver linings just aren’t going to cut it anymore. With just 15 regular season games left, the time to turn on the jets is now. The Indians need a spark, and where it comes from no longer matters.

Next. Ironing out the bottom of the lineup. dark

Most within the baseball community believe there is something special lying underneath the surface of what the Indians have shown for the frustrating majority of the season. It’s not too late for the Tribe to find it, and if they do, nobody in baseball is going to want to play them in October.