And the Indians have a small one going after they won a game for the sixth time this season on their last at-bat in Progressive Field.
The team that won 18-of-22 and then lost 16-of-20 has won three in a row after beating Washington 2-1 with a bottom-of-the-ninth rally. But three good games does not mean the Indians are shrugging off what happened prior — or are content with being up and down like the Millennium.
“We don’t to just be hot,” center fielder Michael Bourn said. “We want to be consistent.”
“The more consistent you are the better team you’ll be,” Bourn said. “We’re working toward that. It’s good to be hot at times. You want to be hot, but you want to be consistent. You don’t want to go on long losing streaks.”
“If you look at any team that’s good in any sport, they know how to get out of the funk,” he said. “We should set ourselves to be that kind of team. Why not? I don’t see why we can’t do it.”
Bourn admitted the Indians were in said funk during their eight-game losing streak and he admitted that with young guys that kind of funk can lead to negativity. But he said guys like Jason Giambi (wise advice) and Nick Swisher (positive energy) kept the rest of the team thinking the right way.
“That’s big when you’ve got a lot of young players,” Bourn said. “I’ve been on a team with a lot of young players and we didn’t have anyone to tell us that and (the losing) just kept going.”
Two wins in Texas and a day off gave the Indians some life heading into Friday’s game, but Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez did his best to stamp it out. Gonzalez gave up just one run in seven innings, but Justin Masterson matched it by giving up a run in an inning when he walked two and threw a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the ninth, with Fernando Abad on in relief (he entered the game with nine strikeouts and no runs allowed in 8 2/3 innings of work) the Indians speed came into play.
With one out, Drew Stubbs singled and stole second. When the Nationals had the second baseman cover instead of the shortstop — an apparent attempt to ward off what looked like a hit-and-run — Bourn was able to pull the ball into right, which sent Stubbs to third.
With Jason Kipnis up, Bourn stole second to take away the double-play, and Kipnis worked the left-handed Abad to a 3-and-2 count.
“Kip had a great at-bat,” Bourn said. “I was standing behind it and he made some tough pitches on him.”
Abad threw a good curveball. Kipnis made good contact, though he was out front, which meant he pulled it down the first-base line. Adam LaRoche made an excellent stop and threw home on one knee to try to get Stubbs, who was running on contact.
“Fortunately Stubbs got a good break and he’s fast, because that was a hell of a play by LaRoche,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
And fortunately LaRoche had to throw from one knee, which meant he had to throw around Kipnis, which put the catcher to the right of the plate, allowing Stubbs to slide in.
More than 30,000 watched a well-played game and ate dollar hot dogs before seeing postgame fireworks. The Indians are back to .500.
“Those things wear on you,” Francona said of the losing streak. “It’s human nature. If they didn’t it means you don’t care. We take what we’re doing … it’s very personal. I know this is the way we make our living and everything, but it’s so much past that. We care so much about it it hurts. It hurts a lot.
“You get hit in the stomach it hurts. You lose your breath. But how you bounce back from that is more important. We talked early in the season when we had that really good streak about team chemistry and I said, ‘To me it’s more important when you’re going bad.’
“I saw nothing during that streak that made me think this isn’t going to be a good team.”
The Indians will enjoy the good stretches, but they’d rather be consistent for the long haul. Streakers, after all, are frowned on in baseball.
“If we stay behind each other we’ll grow as a team,” Bourn said. “You’ll start to see it happen, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”