CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – “You just got to keep on keeping on.”
Those were the immortal words of ‘great philosopher’ Joe Dirt, a mulleted janitor portrayed by David Spade in a movie by the same name, that were quoted by Indians Manager Terry Francona on Tuesday night.
Francona’s offense was devoid of fireworks in a 9-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. No spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, husker dus, husker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers – with or without the scooter stick – or one single whistlin’ kitty chaser; just a leadoff home run by Francisco Lindor, the team’s lone hit of the night off of Doug Fister.
One loss was not that big a deal in the scheme of things, rather another injury to a laundry list for a team that is not out of the woods in a weak division.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis left the game with right hamstring tightness, an injury that the former All-Star cannot shake. It came just hours after the team placed two key members on the disabled list for the second time this season.
Per usual, Francona was a beacon of optimism, staying true to the “never get too high, never get too low” mentality in baseball. But for a team that faced a similar fate in the 2016 post-season, the home stretch of an assumed division championship is becoming a war of attrition.
“Well that’s why you don’t get too giddy when you win a few or something, people start asking you ‘have you turned a corner?’” Francona said. “It’s always fluid, and you’ve got to be prepared for things to happen, and they always do. We’re not the only team.”
While Andrew Miller’s recurring tendinitis issue could be a running concern, especially with a thin 6-foot-7 pitcher throwing downhill, the majority of the team’s current ailments are not considered long-term.
Lonnie Chisenhall will finish his rehab after his stint with his soon-to-be-born child, Michael Brantley is out of a walking boot and close to being cleared to run, Josh Tomlin returns in a rehab game on Friday, and Danny Salazar’s MRI results came back positive on Tuesday night.
“It’s practically impossible for a team to go 162 games without anyone getting hurt,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. Kippy will be back in the lineup in the next couple of days, I hope. Miller will be back soon. Salazar will be back soon. It’s nothing major. It’s not like last year, where Brantley was out the whole season. We understand that guys are going to get hurt. We thank the Lord it’s nothing serious.”
But there is no guarantee that any of the many key names on that list remain healthy. For the names appearing, save maybe Tomlin and Miller, injuries have been a constant theme either this season or in the past. With Miller, his injury is one that does not go away without long stretches of rest.
It is an issue that this current group of Indians have seen before, grinding through the majority of the playoffs without Salazar, Brantley and Carlos Carrasco. It just isn’t anything they want to deal with again, especially to the scale of six key starters.
“It’s tough, but at the end of the day we get paid to come out here and play as hard as we can, and that’s what we try to do,” Lindor added. “We understand injuries are going to happen. We’re going to go through adversity. It’s just a matter of staying within yourself and continue to go compete. We understand our team is not built around one guy. Our team is built around everyone of us. There are 24 guys that can do the job.”
The American League Central lead is down to a comfortable, but not too comfortable 4.5 games over the Minnesota Twins. The Indians cannot afford to lose many more games, but especially not playoff-caliber players.