Have the Indians Given Up? Lindor's Comments Deserve Further Examination
Everyone in the Indians organization right now is frustrated at how this team is playing and how on a nightly basis they seem to find new ways to lose.
Two nights ago in Wrigley Field it was reliever Nick Wittgren who came in with runners at first and third with one out, and proceeded to plunk two batters to allow the winning run to walk home without breaking a sweat.
Wednesday it was Phil Maton's turn, as against Cubs shortstop Javier Baez, who had struck out 65 times in 171 plate appearances when he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the 10th inning with two outs.
Baez swung and missed at a couple of solid Maton fastballs, but then like having a brain freeze Maton decided to go with a change-up which Baez got just enough of, plunking it to left field for the game-winning hit.
Staying with the fastball would have been the right move, something that acting manager Sandy Alomar admitted after the latest loss.
“That was a hanging pitch right there,” Alomar said.
“I felt we should have stayed hard on him, maybe elevate. Maybe they had a different plan when they went up there.”
On a nightly basis after each loss the stress that seems to come over Alomar appears to be growing.
Once an up and coming prospect to eventually be a manager somewhere in the Majors, Alomar in 2020 has gotten a long audition with the Tribe as the top guy with Terry Francona still recovering from his latest surgery to help his stomach issues.
It's still an unknown if Francona will even be back in 2020, but Alomar in the midst of this losing streak has made a number of odd and head scratching decisions, most that have not paid off.
He knows the defects with the Indians roster, and it's not been unusual to hear quotes like the one after Wednesday's loss the Cubs about "grinding."
"It seems like when we hit, we don't pitch well; and when we pitch well, we don't hit. You've just got to keep grinding, man. I don't know what else to say," Alomar said.
To freely admit that he doesn't know "what else to say" can't give the team a lot of confidence, and also points that the roster is just not constructed to win - a stunning reversal after the team spent most of August and into early September challenging for the top spot in the AL Central.
Then there's the case of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, who seemed clearly agitated on Tuesday night when he sat in front of a zoom call for the Cleveland media about 15 minutes after Wittgren hit Cameron Maybin to bring in the winning run in a 6-5 Indians loss.
It was Lindor's two-run homer in the top of the 9th that gave the Indians a chance to continue playing, but it was some odd decision making that gave the game back to the Cubs in the bottom of the 10th.
Lindor, who usually even after losses has a sense of poise, confidence and a sense of being upbeat, didn't seem to be very positive about the team's current state and how the losses are mounting.
The shortstop admitted that the pressure is there, and that the team is feeling it with this losing streak.
“We're humans. We see how many games we have left, we see the scoreboards," Lindor said.
"If we handle this the right way and we're the team that plays the game the right way, supports each other, backs each other up, then we're going to be in the postseason.
"If we don't play hard on a daily basis and prepare to come out here and win, whether we win or not, we don't deserve to be in the postseason."
Lindor has a point, a team that in a 60-game season which loses eight in a row likely doesn't deserve to be postseason bound, but with the expanded playoffs and the way the schedule lays out for the Indians, they still have a good shot to make it to October baseball.
The follow-up to Lindor's comments about "deserving" to be in the postseason came a comment that seemed to draw the ire of fans on social media who said the comment from Lindor appears to point to a team that has simply given up.
“At the end of the day, if we continue to do our thing, we're going to win ballgames and we're going to be in the postseason," Lindor said.
"If we're not in the postseason, at least we gave it our best.”
Lindor's season has been up and down, but he's still right now one of the best hitters on the team, and the club needs him to be that leader they just don't seem to have in their current clubhouse climate.
Fans know though that the writing is on the wall that Lindor is likely gone this offseason, and it seems a number of them have grown tired of hearing from him voicing his opinion on a team he won't be with long term.
The shortstop isn't exactly wrong when saying that maybe the Indians just don't deserve to play October baseball in 2020 - but saying it in a way in which he uses the words like "we gave it our best" does not give fans a lot of confidence that the team is doing everything on a daily basis to win.
Maybe this team will surprise and find a way to pull out of this funk and make a run in the American League, but the way things are being presented right now they are holding on for dear life just to make the playoffs.
Giving their best isn't enough right now, or at least it hasn't over the last eight games.
Lindor didn't have a problem saying it - but it's an awful pill to swallow for fans that have supported his rise and the team's run in 2020 after having to wait out all the off the field drama that nearly cost the league their season.
It doesn't mean Lindor is wrong, but likely his choice of phrases could have been a little better for those living and dying with the club on every pitch.
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