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Senior Baseball Columnist

Weekend Buzz: Disastrous road trip for Indians might have buried them

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The Indians starting pitchers go 0-7 with an 11.69 ERA during the team's 0-9 road trip. (US Presswire)  
The Indians starting pitchers go 0-7 with an 11.69 ERA during the team's 0-9 road trip. (US Presswire)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were watching The Flying Squirrel in London while remembering Jerry Garcia on what would have been his 70th birthday last week. ...

1. How about them Browns? The Indians are making their namesakes in the classic film Major League look like the real-life Big Red Machine. Or even more dominant. Seriously. It has reached the point where even sacrificing live chickens, Bull Durham-style, could be lethal.

To the Indians, not the chickens.

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They blew a three-run lead in the 10th to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Detroit on Sunday, thus completing a completely miserable 0-9 trip that set baseball in Cleveland back more than 100 years.

That's no exaggeration: This was the Indians' first winless trip of nine or more games in the 112-year history of the franchise. They were outscored 74-28.

"The slope keeps getting steeper and steeper," eloquent reliever Vinnie Pestano told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. "It's testing the character and integrity of this team."

It tested the longevity of starter Derek Lowe and outfielder Johnny Damon, each of whom was tossed from the team charter somewhere between Minnesota and Kansas City. Or was it Kansas City and Detroit?

Which brings us to another point: It wasn't as if the Indians were whacked in a trip that took them to play the division-leader Yankees, Rangers and White Sox. They went 0-9 while playing six games against the two teams below them in the AL Central standings, the Twins and Royals.

When they left home 10 days ago, they were challenging for first place. Now, they're challenging for last. The Tribe started the trip 3½ games out of first place, and 9½ out of last.

Now, they're 9½ out of first, and only 5½ out of last.

Look out, Twins and Royals, here come the Indians. Thud!

Their starters went 0-7 with an 11.69 ERA on the trip. Eleven point six nine. Lowe, Ubaldo Jimenez, Corey Kluber ... hopeless, hapless and helpless.

The Indians right now don't know which way is up and which is down. They can't tell sunlight from darkness. Literally, maybe: Left fielder Ezequiel Carrera held up Friday night's game in Detroit during the first inning so he could come in and get sunglasses. Then, he didn't use them in the second inning as veteran Cleveland Plain Dealer beat man Paul Hoynes entertainingly noted.

Tweeted closer Chris Perez after surrendering Sunday's game-losing two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera: "Definitely the low point of my professional career. Only thing I can do is work harder tomorrow and get better."

Now, Cleveland heads home to play host to the Twins for three and the Red Sox for four. Remember early in the year when Perez ripped Indians fans on Twitter for their sparse attendance at The Field Formerly Known as Jacobs? Ahem.

"There aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe how much I sucked today. Go ahead Cleveland, give it to me," Perez said in another tweet.

Maybe from their perch at Browns camp, Clevelanders will give it to him. More likely, though, they lost interest somewhere along about Kansas City and will be lining up their Fantasy Football teams.

2. From Woodward Avenue to Baker Street: They're already calling Sunday's the most spectacular victory of the summer in Detroit. But the way the Indians are going, I'm going to assume they must be talking about acquiring utilityman Jeff Baker from the Cubs.

3. Burn, baby, Burn: Difference between this year's Pirates and last year's, and one big reason why this year's Pittsburgh club isn't going to fade? A.J. Burnett, who won a game the Pirates had to win Sunday in Cincinnati. "I've never had an ace before," manager Clint Hurdle said, and the Pirates haven't since, when, Doug Drabek in '92? Burnett now is 14-3, has won four consecutive decisions and, since May 13, he has won 13 of 14 decisions.

4. Call me maybe: Carly Rae Jepsen? No, Kevin Jepsen and his Angels bullpen mates. Call them, maybe, is what manager Mike Scioscia agonizes over these days as one of his relievers after another is torched. After winning the first two of a four-game set in Texas to climb to within three games of the first-place Rangers, the Angels lost four of their next five to drop to six back. The bullpen gave it up in each case, including two walk-off losses in three games Wednesday (Rangers) and Friday (White Sox). In the first seven games of a 10-game trip (Oakland is next), the Angels' bullpen's ERA is 10.55. And that doesn't even count a principal's office meeting in which Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher ordered C.J. Wilson (0-3, 5.36 ERA over his past seven starts) to be more aggressive on the mound.

5. You should have seen 'em on double dates: What a cool thing, brothers Justin and B.J. Upton each collecting career home run No. 100 on Friday night, Justin for the Diamondbacks and B.J. for the Rays. They each hit career homer No. 99 on the same night, too, July 20.

6. Bleeding Dodgers green: Wait, what? Joe Blanton started for the Dodgers on Sunday? Didn't they claim Cliff Lee on waivers? Wait, what? Lee started for the Phillies on Sunday? The way the Dodgers and general manager Ned Colletti are going under new money-is-no-object ownership, they're either going to wind up in the World Series or as an Abbott and Costello routine.

7. King Felix: Felix Hernandez throws a gem in Yankee Stadium on Saturday and good for Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik for not trading him (again) at the July deadline. The notion of dealing Hernandez has become one of the most hackneyed -- and wrong -- ideas come trade-rumor season. Like the Mariners and others are simply supposed to exist as a farm system for the Yankees and other big spenders? You build around an ace like King Felix, you don't deal him. Fans in Seattle deserve some reason to come to the ballpark. His 1-0 complete-game shutout of the Yankees, by the way, was the first in the Bronx since Cleveland's Greg Swindell did it on Sept. 6, 1988.

8. Like watching Petco Park grass grow: Outfielder Mike Baxter set a Mets team record for a nine-inning game on Saturday by walking five times. When reporters arrived to interview him postgame, first thing he did was break out laughing. "Who do they think I am, Babe Ruth?" Baxter did not say, but should have. What he really said was this after strangely walking into Mets history: "I'll take a walk any day. Walks are good. And I'll take them. All kidding aside, it's just strange. It's funny."

9. Throwback uniforms: One of the curses of watching modern sports (except for Fridays, when the Brewers wear their cool retro-'70s pinstriped home uniforms). If those baby blues were so cool back in the day, Cardinals, why don't you still wear them? There should be a rule: If the White Sox insist on wearing their old red and white pinstriped home uniforms on Sunday, then Dick Allen should be sitting in the dugout in full White Sox dress, smoking a heater.

10. Not your fault, Meat. It's the scout who signed you: Coming this September to your local theater: Clint Eastwood playing an aging Atlanta Braves scout with vision problems whose daughter reluctantly agrees to accompany him and serve as his eyes on an important trip. Uh-oh, this sounds like Biff Pocoroba all over again.

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