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Indians Fall to White Sox 9-0 in Season Finale

 

 

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The Cleveland Indians season came to a rather fitting end on Wednesday night as the club was shut out one last time by the Chicago White Sox, losing 9-0 to finish with a 68-94 record on the year. The Indians, who spent 40 days in first place earlier this season, finished the season in 4 th place in the American League Central Division, 20 games behind the Detroit Tigers whom the team defeated in dramatic fashion on July 26 th in what looked to be the game that would finally put them back into playoff contention. Instead, July 26 th will now be looked at as the day that everything went horrifically wrong for the Tribe as the next day began a monumental collapse for the team and they went on to go 5-24 for the month of August, plummeting them from playoff contender to laughing stock in the worst month in franchise history.

Travis Hafner went 1-4 in what will likely be his final game as a Cleveland Indian on Wednesday night after hitting a dramatic walk-off homer to win in extra innings on Tuesday. Hafner tipped his cap to the fans as he walked to the plate in the 9 th inning and received a warm ovation from the 18,000 fans that made their way downtown for the game as well as his teammates and the entire White Sox bench as well. Hafner popped up to former Indians third baseman Jose Lopez with one out, a somewhat fitting end to his tenure as an Indian as well. Hafner was once touted to be the next Jim Thome or Manny Ramirez after having huge breakout seasons in 2005-2007, but since then he has been nothing but injured, missing huge chunks of time each season with one malady or another and has been an enormous let down for the ball club. Hafner will be a free agent this winter, and the Indians don’t seem to have much of an interest in keeping him around considering his physical abilities have been greatly diminished and they need a full-time designated hitter that they can depend on.

Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo also went 1-4 and he too has likely played his final game in an Indians jersey. Choo is a free agent following the 2013 season, but his agent is Scott Boras, and he’s going to want a lot more money for this client than the Tribe will be able to afford. Instead, the Indians are likely to shop Choo around this winter and try to land something for him that will help the club build for the future. Ditto Chris Perez, who flipped his cap up to a fan above the Indians’ dugout as he left the field for what will likely be his last game as an Indian. Perez has been overly critical of everyone from the front office to the Cleveland fans this season, and the Indians have several closers in waiting that are chomping at the bit for an opportunity to shine next spring, so the likelihood of the team trading the 2-time All-Star is fairly high at this point.

David Huff had a very bad night after making several quality starts for the team and took the loss to finish with a 3-1 record and a 3.38 ERA on the year. Huff gave up 7 runs (3 earned) on 9 hits in 4.2 innings; he allowed 3 homers, 2 walks and struck out 2 batters in the process. Huff was pitching for a chance to make the Tribe’s rotation next season, and the one bad start probably won’t do much to sway the club either way when it comes to that decision. Huff has been trying to make an impression for a few years now, but the Indians have been waiting to see him develop into a pitcher that will pitch them deep into ball games on a consistent basis. Considering there is a good chance that Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and Roberto Hernandez are all being looked at as expendable given their abysmal 2012 performances, Huff may be looking at his best chance yet to at least be considered for the Tribe’s rotation in 2013.

The Indians will now start the offseason by looking for a replacement for Manny Acta, who was fired with six games remaining on the season last week. Sandy Alomar Jr. was named the interim manager, and he will reportedly interview for the job on Thursday. The team responded well to Alomar over the final week of the season, but he lacks a lot of experience compared to his competition, and he is a beloved fan-favorite that many don’t want to see go down in flames if the team doesn’t do well under his guidance. The other man being considered for the job at this point is former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who will interview for the job on Friday. Speaking with ESPN on Pardon the Interruption this week, Francona truly seemed interested in the job and made it sound like it would be a good fit for him. Francona certainly has the experience that the Indians would love to have at the helm next season, but he may come with a price tag that is a bit too steep for the Tribe’s frugal spending front office. There have not been any additional names thrown into the hat as of yet, but the Indians will likely explore other options if they can’t come to terms with either Alomar or Francona by the end of the weekend.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians Correspondent

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