Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

The glass is empty this morning

Cleveland had a rare sports double header with Detroit on Friday night and woke up this morning to an empty glass.

In the game that mattered, the Indians fell to the Tigers to drop 2.5 games out of first place.

Josh Tomlin needed to be perfect for the Indians because the offense decided it was a good time to take the night off.

Tomlin tried his best, shutting out the Tigers through five-and-a-third innings, but the long ball did him in, with Austin Jackson hitting a two-run shot in the sixth, and Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta adding solo shots in the seventh with two outs.

Tomlin has now given up 23 home runs on the year, or one every seven innings.

“I thought Josh pitched well and gave us a chance for six innings,’’ manager Manny Acta said in published reports. “We just couldn’t get anything going against (Max) Scherzer. He got better as the game went on.’’

The Tribe offense was inept, scoring its sole run in the seventh inning courtesy of a wild pitch by Max Scherzer.

The Indians have apparently decided that putting the ball in play is not important, as batters have struck out 47 times in the first four games of this road trip. Travis Hafner has contributed 21 percent of that total as he continues his second-half transformation into Adam Dunn.

The Tribe continues to ride the K Train, striking out at a staggering rate of 7.8 times per game. At that pace they will finish with a franchise record 1,265 strike outs on the year.

Having said that, there is still a lot of baseball to be played. If the Indians can take care of business today and tomorrow, they come home just a half-game back of Detroit.

“The way they are playing, the way we are playing and even the way Chicago is playing, I don’t think this is going to be decided in the next couple days,” Tomlin said.

***

In the game that didn’t matter as much, the Browns lost to the Lions in Cleveland’s second – and final – home game of the exhibition season.

Colt McCoy continued to give us confidence that the West Coast offense is the right fit for him. McCoy completed 10-of-18 passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

“He did a good job,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of McCoy. “He executed like you’d expect. They came after us with some pressure and he stood in there and executed. I think he would tell you he missed some throws out there.”

Evan Moore caught two touchdown passes and rookie wide receiver Greg Little had one as the first-team offense put up 21 points despite missing Peyton Hillis, Ben Watson and Eric Steinbach, none of whom played because of injuries.

“He can really run and catch the football,” Shurmur said of Moore. “That’s how we’ll try to use him throughout this deal. I think he’s improved as a blocker, but I think his real value is a pass catcher.”

If Moore can stay healthy – he left Friday night’s game with what may be a concussion – and Ben Watson can have another solid season, that will take a lot of the pressure off of a group of unproven and unproductive wide receivers.

“Evan is definitely a weapon,” McCoy said. “He’s a big target and he creates mismatches. I thought he played excellent. He got some good balls and then we got him out of there.”

The best part of the night was that the cool, refreshing breeze of Shurmur’s offense continued to blow through Cleveland Browns Stadium. After two exhibition games, it’s clear that Shurmur thinks touchdowns, not field goals.*

“Tonight we faced a good front and we had our ups and downs, for sure,” McCoy said. “We capitalized on some short fields. We didn’t settle for field goals.”

The first-team defense didn’t play all that bad, either, holding Detroit’s first-team offense to just 10 points. And they did it while playing without starters Usama Young, T.J. Ward, Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita.

Ahtya Rubin and Jabaal Sheard were active on the defensive line, with Rubin notching a sack and Sheard forcing and recovering a fumble.

“I thought they battled,” Shurmur said of the Browns starters on defense. “(Detroit) is a pretty explosive group on offense. I thought they did a good job battling.”

The Browns travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on the Eagles in what is normally the last true test for the starters in the preseason. It should be a good test for the Browns new offensive weapons.

*Sarcasm font is activated at 35 percent.

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