Sunday night was a low point for us Indians fans but I refused to get sour with them. We just lost to the Twins. Carlos Carrasco was rumored to be certain to go to the DL after leaving the game with elbow tightness adding to Mitch Talbot, already being there. The Indians had lost their third in a row and had been swept by the Twins, the team picked by most, I have read, to win the AL Central again. The Indians were just not playing good baseball. Should I jump off this bandwagon too? Instead of joining many fans, I tweeted the first comment to Manny Acta and the second comment to the fans.
@Mactriber_11 Hopefully the day off and the home cooking will help turn things around. Hang in there! It was much better than yesterday.
#Indians fans, the next homestand is a great opp. for #winning in the division against the #Royals and #Tigers. #GoTribe2011 #dontgiveup
I really believed that this week would tell a lot about the Tribe and wanted them to seize the opportunity to defend their current 1st place status and not just dismiss it as a fluke. I did not want the fans to just give up this early after a slight fall. I thought the Indians were playing well enough to win in most of their games. They could actually be much better than the 14-8 current standing. I believe most fans agree with this.
Last night, the Indians showed the fire that has made them 14-8. With Kansas City and Detroit breathing down their neck and their 1st place status all but over, they came out and gave the performance they needed to give.
Aggressive in the first three innings, they grabbed the lead, a stat that proves to be victorious for the Indians almost every time. The Indians offense was also aided by the homerun, 5 in total including 2 by Jack Hannahan, who I affectionately label Jack “themanwhocan”, on Twitter. Grady Sizemore was hitting extra base hits like crazy, with a homerun and two doubles. Thanks to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the following information: Grady now has as many extra base hits in 8 games as he had in 2010 in 33 games. Shin Soo Choo and Matt LaPorta also added homeruns. The highlight for me came in the pitching however.
There was the news pregame that Wednesday (today) might prove Carlos Carrasco to be okay. This helped Indians fans like me to feel better. During the game, the pitching shut down the Royals for the first three innings with ease. However for me, the highlight of the game came when Vinnie Pestano came in with the score 7-4 and the bases loaded full of Royals and none out. Vinnie retired the Royals in order without giving up a run.
This performance by Pestano was for me the overall reason why the Indians deserve to be 14-8 atop the AL Central Standings, something for the moment that I truly hope can last.
The Cleveland Indians are now 8-3. What did it take to beat the Indians? It took better pitching. It reminded me of 1995 in the World Series where we lost to the long ball 1-0, when David Justice took Jim Poole deep. 1-0 That was the difference. They had a lights out pitcher in Tom Glavine that night. When it is the World Series, everything gets magnified and rightfully so.
Still when the Indians, winners of 8 of their first 11 games, start off the season winning 8 in a row and lose tonight 2-0 to the long ball and get shut down due to great pitching, it too gets magnified because of how much effort it took to beat our young team. We will win more than lose with efforts like tonight. Something to build on.
Remember our team is still rebuilding and learning to win. We did not spend $200 plus millions on payroll to try to buy the World Series title this year like the 2-9 Red Sox whom we swept last week or the Phillies who lost tonight to the Nationals 7-4. The key for our team is to get right back up and compete like we did tonight with decent starting pitching and enough offense. Let us see how we do. Ervin Santana will be our opponent. Let us see how the Indians approach the game. remember with any successful team, winning series and winning in the division are two goals. The Indians averaged 5.1 runs scored before tonight’s 1 hit shutout.
Games like these are going to happen in a 162 games season. Best case scenario: If they win tomorrow, it will be their fourth series win in a row. Another series won is a great thing. We have the opportunity to make this happen. Worst case: we lose tomorrow and have a 4-2 road trip. This would put us at 4-2 at home and 4-2 on the road. I will like the best case scenario more but will also like the worst case scenario as it stands. We need to continue to compete and improve. I as a fan must improve in supporting this team. I have gone to two games already. I will go Friday. Will you?
The Cleveland Indians have WON 7 IN A ROW! This is remarkable since the season start looked bleak after an 0-2 start. How have they done it so far?
1. Starters The starters have avoided the big inning. In the two losses to begin the 2011 season, the White Sox had a big inning scoring 8 in the 4th inning on Opening Day and 4 in the 2nd inning of Game 2. Since then the big inning has been nonexistant. The starters since Game 2 have allowed, in the 7 wins, 9 total runs. In the 2 losses, the starters have allowed 17 total runs.
2. Bullpen The bullpen has been very consistent. Coming out of Spring Training, the general consensus has been it was the strength of the team. So far, this has proven to be true. In the 7 wins, the bullpen came in with the lead and never allowed the opposition to tie the score. In the 2 losses the bullpen surrendered a total of 6 runs. In the 7 wins, a total of 5 runs have been surrendered. For a bullpen to be successful, it needs to have a lead to protect. In the two losses, the bullpen added to the chaos caused by the starters. In the seven wins, the lead was never surrendered.
3. Hitters Anytime a lineup is pressed to score a bunch of runs and come from behind, it makes it very hard to win. In the 2 losses, the Indians at one point found themselves behind 14-0 on Opening Day and 5-0 in Game 2. For the 7 wins, they were only behind in two of the games by the score of 1-0. Otherwise, they scored first and never surrendered the lead. 39 runs scored 13 runs scored in the two losses. They scored 12 in Friday’s win alone. Leading the way is Travis “Pronk” Hafner. He is not relying strictly on the long ball for his offensive production. He is 10-27 with 2 homeruns and had gotten a hit in every game he has played in this season and has a .370 batting average so far. Overall, the team has has a .285 batting average, 6th among all in Major League Baseball, 11 homeruns, tied for 6th in MLB, 86 hits, 6th in MLB and 49 runs batted in, 6th in MLB.
All in all, these consistencies have helped the Tribe to have a successful start to the 2011 campaign. Let us hope these trends can continue to improve as the season continues.
The Cleveland Indians came into the action with 4 wins and 2 losses, fresh off a sweep of the powerful Boston Red Sox to face an old friend and manager, Eric Wedge. Like the late Herb Score was for Clevelanders, Dave Niehaus was for the Seattle fans. What an awesome tribute for Seattle fans! I thought going into the game that this tribute along with Eric Wedge trying to show his former team some “revenge” that the game was going to be tough to win. Thankfully I was wrong.
Dave Niehaus’s famous line was “My oh my” The only fans saying this would be the Cleveland Indians fans staying up to watch the game to see the offensive onslaught by the Cleveland Indians offense. The scoring started with a linedrive homerun by Asdrubal Cabrera, batting right handed off the left hander Jason Vargas, that just cleared the left field wall to make the score 1-0.
The fourth inning was the inning that seemed to last forever as the Cleveland Indians kept hitting and scoring runs, 10 of them. “My oh my” was right! With Shin-Soo Choo on third and Carlos Santana on first, Travis Hafner was able to hit a broken bat bloop single to score Choo. It was now 2-0. Austin Kearns had a RBI double to score Hafner. Santana scored earlier off a single by Orlando Cabrera. In all it was 4-0 now. LaPorta sacrificed Cabrera home with a fly ball to make it 5-0. Jack Hannahan added an opposite field single to score Kearns and make it 6-0. Another run was hit in by Carlos Santana off the relief pitcher Tom Wilhemsen making it 7-0. All 7 runs were charged to Vargas. Another runner scored on the play also. It was 8-0 and Travis “Pronk” Hafner came back up. With Choo on second base and Carlos Santana on 1st base, “Pronk” launched a ball off the second deck to make the score 11-0. “My oh my!” The Indians added a final run off a wild pitch off Tom Wilhemsen in the top of the 5th inning to score LaPorta who walked in the top of the 5th. It took a former Indian, Aaron Laffey to stop the Seattle bleeding in the top of the 6th inning.
The Cleveland pitching did very well to keep the Seattle offense off the board for the first 4 innings. It was not until the bottom of the 5th that the Mariners scored a run. Carrasco showed in this inning some control problems as he hit the first batter Brendan Ryan and walked Ryan Langenhaus only to have the future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki single home Ryan to make the score 12-1. Two more runs were surrendered in the ninth inning off of Frank Herrmann to make the final score 12-3. The pitching overall was great especially from the starter Carlos Carrasco and the middle relief Justin Germano who combined for 8 innings of 1 run on 4 hits 5 walks and 8 strikouts.
Often I think that when a pitching staff is up by a bunch of runs, the focus sometimes is off for getting people out. Yet the Indians pitchers overall did awesome to not let the Mariners return the favor of a big inning to turn it into a softball game. Thanks to their efforts, the Indians now stand atop the AL Central all alone at 5 wins and 2 losses. They will try to continue their winning ways when Masterson takes the mound tonight against Doug Fister.
Looking at the choices they made
The Fab 5 known as the starting pitchers for the 2011 Cleveland Indians at the onset consist of Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot in this order. After listening tonight to Mitch Talbot’s performance, the temptation is to say, “uh, @Mactriber_11, yeah, Mr. Acta, are you sure you want Mitch after today’s 7-4 loss where he gave up a grand slam and 7 runs and 14 hits in 6 innings of work? Shouldn’t we go with David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez instead?” I think the answer Manager Manny Acta or General Manager Chris Antonetti would give and have given is one word, consistency! Looking at the collection of the entire spring, I can see why these 5 pitchers were chosen to represent the Indians every 5 days to begin games. Here are my thoughts.
Thoughts about the starting rotation
The definition of the word ace, according to dictionary.com, that best describes Fausto Carmona is a very skilled person; expert. When looking at the 5 pitchers selected for the rotation, Carmona is the most skilled of the young rotation. In looking over his stats, the stats show his ERA is way up. However, what is encouraging is his strikeouts are up too. The idea of attacking the strike zone is working. For him to be the true ace, attacking the strike zone is what will be needed and is needed.
In 2007, Fausto Carmona showed stats of 11 strikeouts and surrendering 8 walks. this led to a 2007 regular season where he surrendered 61 walks and struck out 137 batters leading to a 19-8 regular season record. In 2011, so far in Spring Training, Fausto has struck out 21 batters and walked only 7 batters. The potential is there to be better than he was in 2007. 19 wins in any year is hard to come across. Now the potential is here for Fausto to be another 20 game winner. If the numbers prove correct, 20 or more wins for Fausto could be accomplished. Talk about an ace! Wow! No matter what actually happens, he is still an ace because of all the starters currently, he does have the most experience, he is the expert on the current staff. Good luck Fausto, be the ACE!
In 16 2/3 innings pitched, young Carlos Carrasco had 6 walks and 14 strikeouts. Remember, however, he missed some time to welcome his newborn daughter into the world. Why a number 2 pitcher? His stats look similar to Jeanmar Gomez. I think Carlos Carrasco was named the #2 starter not based on these stats. Simply put, Manager Manny Acta stated that he wanted to seperate Carmona, the sinkerball pitcher from Masterson, another sinkerball pitcher. Seeing these two pitchers back to back did not seem prudent coming into the start of 2011. On a personal level, I think Carlos, bringing a daughter into the world, requires a great deal of given responsibility. The hope is that Carrasco will grasp this responsibility and transform it to the mound in a #2 role on the staff.
Meet sinkerballer #2. Breaking up Carmona and him on back to back games will help them tremendously and help both he and Fausto in the process. At least, this is the hope as the 2011 season opens. The goal is to get him in the mindset to keep his sinkerball from going flat and up in the strike zone. I think if he keep the ball down and keeps attacking the strike zone along with trusting the defense behind him that he can be effective. We shall see what develops as the season begins.
The most consistent of the 5 pitchers earned him the #4 spot even though he was just named yesterday officially to the rotation. Every time I heard about a start or a workout by Tomlin in Spring Training, nothing but positive reports followed. He was pitching better than Mitch Talbot and this earned him the #4 starter position. He had two starts for the Spring. He only gave up 1 run all Spring on 9 hits in two starts against the offensive powerhouses in Texas and Los Angeles Angels. The rest of the outings impressed the coaches and manager when he was placed in intrasquad or B games and today will be another test to help Tomlin before the season. We shall see what happens.
Based on the facts that Mitch Talbot was struggling to get people out by strikeout and that he was not as effective as Josh Tomlin made him the 5th starter. Acta was impressed with how Talbot was getting his sinkerball over for strikes against Prince Fielder for strikes. He also was impressed with Mitch Talbot getting up to 100 pitches in yesterday’s action.
Two side notes in conversation that Acta brings up. One is former Cleveland Indians player and former AAA pitching coach Charlie Nagy’s old line that stated that when pitching you become the #1 starter and when done, the next day you become the #5 starter. Also each starter will not skip turns as the season starts even if days off or cancelled games occur. It will be nice to see each pitcher handle this and not be skipped over. Hopefully the team will respond well also.
Why not Gomez or Huff
Consistency was telling me that Huff and Gomez were showing the most inconsistency among the starters for the Tribe and needed more development than the top 5 starting pitchers named. Still, they were asked to stay ready in case they were needed by the Tribe.
Depth is the name for the young Tribe and isn’t it nice to have. Pitchers that can step in and pitch effectively in a moment’s notice. Now we have a sixth and a seventh starter that need more innings to pitch to get better. The goal is to get better. Having depth can only help this team especially when injuries can occur unfortunatly. Huff and Gomez can help make AAA Columbus also better while waiting for their opportunity in the big leagues. I like having depth. Now the goal is to transfer all this potential and promise into wins for the Cleveland Indians for 2011 This 2011 starting rotation is a start. These are my thoughts. What are yours?
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The Cleveland Indians had the day off yesterday. It was the only one for them until the end of spring training, 15 days to be exact. Here is an observation.
Masterson needs to be more consistent
The starting rotation seems to be set. Already knowing early that Carmona was the Opening Day starter. Masterson seems ready to be in the rotation. He needs to show consistency for me to be more confident in his abilities. However, I am learning to realize that when a pitcher knows that he is going to be in a rotation, runs will pile up because the pitcher is not so focused on results as they are in just getting their work in. Masterson showed how masterful his potential can be when he struck out 5 Cubs in 3 innings without giving up a hit or run. Yet in this last performance, Masterson gave up 5 runs and 7 hits while striking out 4 batters in 4 innings of work. What is needed for me to show more confidence is for Masterson to show more consistency in his outings. If one outing he looks like the next Cy Young and another he looks like the next Juan Eichelberger, then there is going to be a problem competing all year.
Mitch Talbot needs to show me more of this every time.
In Tuesday’s, 3/15/11’s, game, Mitch Talbot looked much, much smoother. 1 run and 6 hits in 5 innings pitched is a job worthy of a rotation spot. Mitch showed that he belonged in the rotation. Like the other pitchers, I think Mitch pitches better with a chip on his professional shoulder, one that says “you stink, prove to me that you belong here.” With his outings before this one, I believe he was out to show the critics that it is spring training and the goal to be ready for the regular season is still in order for Mitch.
Tomlin is in, Huff is out
This is an official opinion. However based on seeing the outing by Huff 4 runs on 6 hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched had me already believing that David Huff would begin the year in AAA Columbus. Tomlin on the other hand, showed major league consistency 1.13 ERA, no runs on 3 hits in 3 innings pitched told me the 5th starter job is his for the beginning of the season and hopefully throughout the season.
Carrasco is pitching now for others besides himself.
Carlos Carrasco is behind the others since he took some time off to help see his son born into the world. This being said he was fairly impressive getting his work in by giving up 3 runs and 6 hits in a 7-2 loss on Sunday. I believe he will start to get better as we get closer to the season. He was listed as a #4 starter this year.
Bringing it together
For the Indians to begin to turn the page on the 2011 season, the rotation, a question mark for the upcoming year, has to be more consistently stronger. All 5 starters (Carmona, Masterson, Talbot, Tomlin (if chosen) and Carrasco have all given impressive outings in at least 1 of their starts this spring. Three of the pitchers gave this in their last outing We fans need to see them getting better for not just a night or two but in consecutive starts. I believe if each person chosen for the 2011 rotation can show more consistent effort, then the hope and optimism will help the fans embrace this team again.
By the way, it is not for lack of love for the team that some of us fans, including myself do not go to games other than Opening Day. It deals with time and schedule. For me, the ability to go to games is difficult because of the schedule. I work much during most of their games. However I will try my best to go to games when I can on my days off. Finances come into play also. All, in all, however, my family will try everything to put forth more consistency in putting ourselves in the stands. Once again, it is my great hope the players can show more consistency for other more casual fans to come back also.