Eric Wedge, I dub thee Uncle Eric from this point forward.
Now up until this point I have neither been an Eric Wedge supporter nor an Eric Wedge detractor. But last night's inexcusable handling of the pitching staff may be the straw that broke the camel's back.
Let's recap. After being up 3-0 on Atlanta the Indians found themselves tied 3-3 after a number of weak ground balls found holes in the 6th inning. In the bottom of the 8th Casey Blake led of the inning with a solo shot onto the homer run porch at The Jake to put the Indians up 4-3.
And warming up in the bullpen... no one. Now C. C. Sabathia has shown this year to be one of the premier pitchers in MLB. He has shown incredible stamina this season despite his giant stature. And he was coming off back to back 9 inning, shut out performances. But he was coming off back to back 9 inning, shut out performances... Hello, McFly! This is not the 1970's. Pitchers rarely go back to back complete games let alone 3 in a row in the 21st century. I figured Uncle Eric would know this.
Add to that the fact that C. C. was not his overpowering self. He had given up 10 hits. Now they were all singles and most of those were weak flares or ground balls with eyes, but the Braves were still making contact with the big guy. He was well over 100 pitches, not overly dominant and coming off two consecutive 9 inning outings. It was the 4th and 5th time that the Brave hitters had seen him that night. He should NOT have been out there in the 9th inning.
But he was and was subsequently greeted with two absolutely crushed, I mean crushed, doubles off the big green wall in left (sandwiched around an error and a sacrafice bunt) and the Tribe was down 5-4. Game, set, match Bravos.
Now I do not care that Borowski, Betancourt and Perez were all used heavily over the past week and maybe weren't available. I don't care that Cabrera and Mastny have been shaky, and that's being nice, over the month of June. And I don't care that Roberto Hernandez is almost 50 years old. Someone other that C. C. should have been out there to try and finish off the game. Even if the bullpen would have blow it maybe we would have found out something about these "fringe" guys that seem to be lights out one month and garbage the other.
The manager's job is to put the ball club in the best position to win. Uncle Eric didn't do that yesterday. And now instead of being up on the Braves in the series, the Tribe must win the next 2 to take it. The Tigers are back within 1 game in the Central. The Indians can not afford to give game away, but Uncle Eric did that very thing last night.