Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Tribe keeps holding out for a hero

yan gomes indians homerI need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero

Another day, another improbable win from the Cleveland Indians, who apparently don’t remember what it’s like to lose a game.

On Monday it was Yan Gomes, who hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th (yeah, like everyone saw that one coming) to lift the Tribe over Seattle. It was the Indians 18th win in their last 22 games, their fifth consecutive victory, their first four-game sweep of Seattle since 1981 and the third time in the four-game series that they beat the Mariners in their final at-bat.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last time the Tribe had three walk-off wins in a four-day span was 1992 against Kansas City. In that series against the Royals, Carlos Baerga had a 14th-inning sacrifice fly, Junior Ortiz had a game-winning single and Baerga had a walk-off home run.

“You’re supposed to play `til they send you home,” manager Terry Francona said in published reports. “It’s a good feeling. Once you do it a few times I think that breeds some confidence. Whether it’s picking each other up, it’s getting contagious, and that’s good.”

The Indians are living the high life right now, as they overcame another rough outing from closer Chris Perez to pull out the win. The Tribe easily could have lost three times to the Mariners during the series, but the fact that they swept Seattle shows that everything is going the Tribe’s way right now. But that is how teams build winning streaks and stay in playoff contention – they find a way to win games that they maybe have no business winning. When Gomes is hitting two home runs and driving in four runs, when Ryan Raburn is ripping three-run home runs, well you know that you’re doing something right.

The win means the Tribe will enter Tuesday’s two-game series with Detroit in first place, 2.5 games in front of the Tigers. And as much as you can call a two-game series in May a big series, these next two games with Detroit are big.

Last season, every time the Tribe played the Tigers they would walk away with a hangover.

In May of last year, the Indians swept Detroit in a three-game series at Progressive Field, but followed that by being swept in Chicago in a three-game series with the White Sox, the start of a streak that saw the Indians lose seven-of-nine overall.

The next time the Indians faced Detroit, the Tribe won two-of-three, only to lose six of their next nine games.

Later in the year, the Tribe again won two-of-three against the Tigers, beating Justin Verlander in the process, only to head to Minnesota, where they were swept in three games by the last-place Twins, being outscored 28-6 in the process.

No matter what happens over the next two games with Detroit, the Indians have to avoid that same kind of performance once the Tigers leave town. With games against Boston, Cincinnati, Tampa and the Yankees before they see the Tigers again, the Tribe can’t afford to stumble. If they do, all the hard work that has gone into the last few weeks can quickly go down the drain.

But that’s a topic for another day. For now, the Tribe keeps holding out for a hero and, invariably, someone steps up.

The only question currently is who it is going to be from night to night.

I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure, he’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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