One of the best baseball play by play calls of all time was the call by Jack Buck, a Lakewood, Ohio High School graduate in the 1988 World Series for the homerun by Kirk Gibson.
Last night, the Cleveland Indians brought back the 1990’s for the franchise. This play, even though I was there helped me flash back to Jack Buck in 1988 because I really did not believe what I saw live on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. This play, this team is something truly special. Due to this blessing from God, the Indians were able to score a FRANCHISE record for wins in April. As their promotion will tell you, they were established in 1901. That’s right, in 110 years, the Indians have never won 17 games in April and we still have 1 more day to go. Stay tuned.
When the season prognosticators came out with their predictions, many picked the Royals and Indians, including myself, for fourth or last place in the American League Central. Yet, tonight, these two franchises are going to begin a four game series in a battle for first place.
Its like an episode of the Twilight Zone
The Twins, White Sox and Tigers are all saying it is early. The Royals and Indians will come down to Earth soon and then the season will be back to normal. For myself, I hope it stays like this all year long. This is some outstanding baseball to watch so far.
The Kansas City Royals have a team batting average of .275, 148 hits, and 82 runs scored in 15 games. The Royals are lead by Alex Gordon who has a .365 batting avg., 23 hits, 8 of which are doubles, and 11 runs batted in. Others providing offensive support for the Royals are Billy Butler, Jeff Francouer, Melky Cabrera, and Chris Getz.
For the Cleveland Indians, as a team, have a batting average of .265, 132 hits, and 79 runs scored in also in 15 games. The Indians are lead by Travis “Pronk” Hafner who has a .354 batting average, 17 hits, 4 of which are homeruns and 9 runs batted in. Others providing offensive support are Asdrubal Cabrera, Orlando Cabrera and Michael Brantley. Add the reemergence of Grady Sizemore and the promise of Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo and you have a powerful lineup. Still at this point in the season, I have to give the offensive edge to the Royals of Kansas City.
The Royals pitching staff has a 3.70 ERA, giving up 63 runs, 59 earned runs and 145 hits in 143.1 innings pitched. They are lead by Bruce Chen 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA. The Royals bullpen has Joakim Soria who is 4/5 in save opportunities The Cleveland Indians pitching staff has a 3.16 ERA, giving up 50 runs, 48 earned runs and 107 hits in 136.2 innings pitched. They are lead by Justin Masterson 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA and Josh Tomlin 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA. The Indians also are consistent in the bullpen with the reemergence of Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp and 5/5 in saves for Chris Perez. I think the advantage in pitching goes to the Cleveland Indians so far.
I do not know who will win this series. However, if the Indians pitching holds to form, I think the Indians will have the advantage. After all, the old saying is good pitching beats good hitting. Let us buckle up and see how this will help see who wants to be a factor in the AL Central in 2011. It should be fun and intense for the next 4 days. Hopefully the Indians can do well.
After Saturday’s 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, I was rather nervous. I was telling close friends about a nightmare I had where the Tribe started 0-9 to start the season and I was upset. Acting like the late George Steinbrenner panicking over the team after just two games, I went overboard telling Indians personnel, management, media that they better win Sunday because the upcoming schedule did not look very kind with Boston (2007, predicted AL Champs by many) and Seattle (Wedge, Willis, Laffey revenge) coming up. I just thought this was going to be quite a challenge and the need to win would have to be Sunday.
Masterson was dominant. Oh yeah, he gave up the one run and fell behind. However it was not the type of game where I thought the Indians were facing the local beer league softball team with a barrage of homeruns and doubles against them. The hitters were not getting good wood on the ball. They were hitting ground balls instead of fly balls. Anytime this happens, it usually is a great day for a sinkerball pitcher
The defense helped especially when Carlos Santana snagged a bunt popup and started a triple play, that’s right, a triple play, the thirty-first in Indians’ history. The last one was an unassisted triple play by Asdrubal Cabrera in 2008 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays. Yours truly was there to see that doubleheader. Anytime you can get pitching and defense to co-exist and work together, winning is almost a certainty.
I was in the car on my way to work listening to the radio as Orlando Cabrera came to the plate. Tom with his “SWING AND A DRIVE” call came over the airwaves. I had to pull over and tweet how warm the fans must have felt due to the actions of Orlando “FLA” Cabrera. Indeed, it was wonderful to hear the 2011 Cleveland Indians take their 1st regular season lead. The nice thing was they were not done yet.
Lou Marson, the backup catcher hit a double to score Jack Hannahan from first who previously walked to beging the bottom of the seventh inning. Singles were happening faster than a hit record by Brad Paisley as Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner, Orland Cabrera, Travis Buck and Shelley Duncan all were able to join the hit parade. The Indians were doing things to advance the runners, score the runs that they needed to have a solid win 7-1.
About the attendance, I will be going this Thursday to cheer on the Tribe. I have planned to also see the Orioles later in the month. The ticket deals the Tribe have are tremendous as there is something for everyone to fit their budget and schedule. We need to support this team because we do not want to go down the road that happened to the Browns. I hope to see fans there. I know times are tough. I know some have to work, some cannot find work and some can’t work. I know the gas prices are going way up. I know this is April and the weather in NE Ohio is shaky. I can only speak for myself when I say that I am trying to support this team whenever and wherever I can. They need our support. They will get my support. I hope they can get yours.
When it comes to Opening Day, all types of fans come to the game. Generally, it is the one game the Indians can count on selling out at least for the last 18 years at Jacobs/Progressive Field. Opening Day is an unofficial holiday in NE Ohio! Many people show up at a local establishment to make their predictions and get pumped for the upcoming season. It is an all day event filled with optimism that perhaps this year we will surprise the world and actually “go all the way” or at least compete and be entertaining.
This was the atmosphere before the game. However this year, someone very dear was missing who will be honored throughout the 2011 season, Bob Feller. The pregame was very moving with a video tribute to Bob along with the baseball placed on the mound by his wife, Anne.
The sun came out hours before the game and filled yesterday with hope for all fans. With God’s blessing, the weather resembled Bob’s life, full of light and warmth. This was going to be a great day. All fans were giving predictions for scores, all of which favored our beloved team.
The first pitch, a called strike, was fitting. Just like Bob. Yet Fausto Carmona, never really seemed relaxed. Juan Pierre got a hit to lead off the game, then another by Beckham. Dunn struck out. However, Konerko hit one into right field and scored Pierre. Quentin added another hit to score Beckham and it was already 2-0 before the Indians even got to bat.
The game was played like two halves to a football game in a football town. However, this was baseball. Still in football language, the White Sox were up by the equivalent to a safety in football early in the first quarter. The second inning it seemed like Fausto settled down and it was going to be okay. The third inning a couple of “bombs” were launched into the stands off the bats of Adam Dunn and Carlos Quentin. After the end of the 1st quarter of the game for the White Sox, the score was equal to the total of two field goals as the White Sox were up 6-0. Remember this is baseball! Things were not looking well. The fourth inning was even worse and the rout was on resembling a 1986 memory where Greg Swindell lost his major league debut, 24-5 as the White Sox added a double factory and Dubble Bubble bubble gum sponsorship was nowhere to be found among the many scoreboard, foul pole and outfield advertisements. The White Sox were up by the equivalent of two touchdowns, 14-0 after 4 innings and remained that way until the bottom of 6. Colt McCoy, the Browns quarterback was nowhere to be found due to the fact that this was baseball and it doesn’t help his league is in a lockout.
The Indians thanks to the effort of of some consecutive singles added what equaled two safeties in football in the 6th and some timely “bombs” of their own cut the score to a touchdown and extra point deficit by the end of 7 innings. It was 14-7 in the 4th quarter of the game. After another run was added by the White Sox making the score 15-7, the thought of tying the score with another touchdown now required the two point conversion. Did we have enough for a two minute, er…two inning drive?
Thanks to the efforts of key hitting by Michael Brantley to get Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan home and Matt LaPorta hitting a single to score Hafner in the ninth, the score added a field goal and became a much more respectable 15-10. On the way out, I said to the greeter at the gate who said “Thanks for coming.” Thanks, at least it wasn’t boring. When going to sporting events, if we don’t have the talent to win a lot yet, we fans at least want to see our teams compete. And compete they did. Thank you to the Cleveland Indians for not giving up and competing until the last out. Hopefully they will pull out a W today. This fan can only hope.
Player of the game: Carlos Santana thanks to his key hits scoring the first run as well as another homerun
Its the first day of Spring! Hooray! What does this mean? It depends on who you ask?
For some, it means Spring Cleaning!
For others, its means continued soul searching
For some its time to think about getting the lawn back in shape
Some desire to get thin after the long Winter slumber!
Whatever the reason or motivation, the change from Winter to Spring is great, yet challenging. For the Indians organization, this was no exception. As was reported from various Indians media sources, quite a lot of things happened in the last few days.
First, Adam Miller, one of the Indians top prospects was reported to have to have career threatening surgery unless he can learn to change the way he throws and gain enough command to maintain the ability to compete as a pitcher.
Next, the great trim happened for 15 players on the Spring Training Roster.
Along with Adam Miller, RHPs John Meloan and Juan Salas, LHP Tony Sipp and 2B Luis Valbuena were optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
RHP Hector Rondon and C Carlos Santana were optioned to Double-A Akron.
RHP Jack Cassel, LHP David Huff, C Armando Camacaro, 1B Jordan Brown, 3B Wes Hodges, INF Jesus Merchan, 1B Beau Mills and OF Stephen Head were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Just when I thought the routine was over, the news broke that Fausto Carmona now was bruised in the forearm in an intrasquad game and is now day to day. Quick, someone get these guys healthy for April 6th. I want to think we have a team left not looking like this before the season starts.
Luckily Aaron Laffey came out healthy again. His stats against the Brewers at Maryvale Stadium were 4 innings pitched, 3 runs all earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts and no homeruns. There was nothing that told me the fifth starter wasn’t his to have, still.
Today, Carl Pavano is scheduled to faceoff against the A’s in Goodyear. My goals are to stay in good health and just hang on until April 6th. I just hope all the players and coaches can just hang on, stay healthy out of camp and continue healthy throughout the upcoming 2009 season.
After all, in Ohio, its all about hanging on…
By the way, good luck to Ohio State and Cleveland State today. Hopefully both can hang on today also in the 64 team NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. We shall see.
The crack of the bat, a wonderful sound. I remember my first experience swinging the bat. I was given a red bat, not just any bat, the bat, a magic bat. It was given to me from my grandfather. My grandfather knew what he was doing. He also gave me my first mitt and ball. Instruction for me was rough. Yet I remember how my grandfather emphasized the positive. “Grandpa”, I would say. “I had one hit today” The next day I had two. Each day I saw him, he would tell me that was “100% improvement” Each day I got a little better. I thought it was due to my red bat.