NEW YORK -- After sitting through three hours and four minutes of rain delays and getting swept at Citi Field, the Indians were ready to escape New York in the wee hours of Friday morning after a 2-0 rain-shortened loss to the Mets.
The Indians entered August knowing the daunting schedule that was ahead of them. But the Tribe came out victorious in series against the Angels, Rangers and Twins, and then split a four-game set with the Yankees. However, Cleveland's week-long stretch in New York continued, as it went across town to face the red-hot Mets, who have posted the best record in Major League Baseball since the All-Star break (27-10).
“I mean, [those are] some good teams and we’re a really good team, too,” outfielder Tyler Naquin said. “Sometimes the other team gets those timely hits and sometimes we don’t. … I think it’s just sometimes -- I mean, [Carlos] Santana had a big hit [on Wednesday] and the game of baseball kind of got to us, you know? Same team. Still playing good baseball. Just have to turn it around a little bit and stick to our strengths, stick to our guns and just keep playing. That’s part of the game.”
The Mets have been unstoppable at home in their last 14 games, winning 13 of those contests, including Thursday night, when the game was called after the second rain delay in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Indians’ bats fell silent, recording just two hits on the evening after being held without a baserunner by Noah Syndergaard through 5 1/3 frames.
“It’s just a guy like that, you’ve got to pick your spots,” said Naquin, who broke up the perfect game with a single and also threw a runner out at home plate. “You know, swing at strikes, make him beat you. If you help a pitcher like that out, you make it a lot harder on yourself in the situation. Just being able to isolate a strike zone, look for a certain pitch and don’t miss it, because you might only get one to hit.”
The loss was the Tribe’s seventh in its last nine contests. With the Twins off, the Indians fell to 3 1/2 games back in the American League Central. The A’s and Rays both won to move a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the AL Wild Card standings.
“It was 2-5, of course it was disappointing,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said of the team’s road trip to the Big Apple. “I think we all wanted to do at least a little bit better than that. I think we had higher hopes for that. Obviously, not the results we were looking for. Doesn’t stop us from what we’re trying to get accomplished. There’s still enough time left, but didn’t do ourselves any favors either.”
The Indians have hit one of their lowest points since they began posting their MLB-best winning percentage since June 4, going 45-24 in that span. The three-game set in Flushing started with a costly error by Oscar Mercado in left field on Tuesday and followed with Brad Hand's third straight blown save Wednesday in the 10th inning before Syndergaard shut Cleveland’s offense down in the series finale.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in Game 1. Game 2, we all know how that one ended,” Kipnis said. “So I think there were times we were in the game, we had games to win just like the second game, but did not come away with any victories out here. Of course we’re disappointed, but we’re gonna go home for a weekend, kind of regroup, reset and hopefully pick back up.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians are just the fourth team to play consecutive series against the Yankees and Mets on one road trip, joining Cincinnati in May 2012, San Francisco in September 2013 and Baltimore in May 2015. The Tribe will attempt to use its next week to find its groove, playing its next six games against the 45-83 Royals and the 38-87 Tigers.
“I mean, you just hear chirping around the clubhouse, ‘Man, New York for eight days,’” Naquin said. “It’s just a different pace than being in Cleveland and stuff. It’ll be nice to go back home for three. But no matter where we go, same team, and everything else, same energy. We obviously want to play a little bit better, but go home, turn it around and keep on playing.”