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.
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
There have been two key topics for the Indians going into Spring Training for 2011. First, who is going to be our everyday third baseman? Secondly, who is going to be the fifth starter? For every game played, these two questions seem to be the focus of the media and the fans as they try to put a pulse for how the Cleveland Indians can improve their chances at winning again. By winning, of course, it is .500 or better.
They split the teams up and played what is called in Spring Training a split-squad affair. One lineup was made for a game in Goodyear, AZ against the visiting White Sox. The other lineup was made for the game in Peoria, AZ against the Seattle Mariners. What made these matchups intriguing for me was that it was the first encounter against both Ozzie Guillen, manager for the White Sox and Eric Wedge, now manager of the Seattle Mariners.
My focus today was on the two positions listed above: third base and the starting pitcher. So was everyone else based on what I was reading on Twitter. Every media feed I was getting had attention directed toward the White Sox. I never did get a read on the Mariners game. It was almost an afterthought and not really focused on at all, at least not as much as the game with Chicago. Still I was able to catch updates on Indians.com.
For the third baseman position, what caused alarm was when Jason Donald, arguably the front runner to land the everyday third baseman job was struck on the hand in the second inning of yesterday afternoon’s game. There was a concern about whether or not it was broken and this caused many local and national sources to tweet with concern about Jason Donald’s hand being broken. Donald did not have an official at bat before leaving the game. Luckily the X-Rays came back negative and he is day to day. This being said, I almost sensed people panicking cross Twitter wondering what would the Tribe do if Mr. Donald could not play for any period of time.
First Jack Hannahan could fill the role. He went 1-3 today in the game in Seattle. He’s batting .364 and is seen as a utility player just trying to find a place on the field to play. Second is Jayson Nix. However most of his practice time has taken place at second base. Finally is the young highly touted prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. In hearing manager Manny Acta at a town hall audience, he asked fans not to read into reports about Chisenhall , one of the top prospects for the Indians, automatically be given the third baseman title. I think they want him to get a solid year in AAA and perhaps be one of the September call-ups later in the season. With these people having their role be defined, I now see why there is so much concern about Jason Donald. Hopefully, he will be okay.
The pitching lines made it more clear who had a leg up for the starting rotation. Against Chicago, David Huff, who was trying to put a 2-11 record behind him in 2010 pitched 3 innings of shutout ball, only giving up 2 hits and having two strikeouts and surrendering no walks. On the other hand, against Seattle, Jeanmar Gomez, another candidate for the starting rotation pitched 2 1/3 innings giving up 4 runs, all earned and 4 hits with 1 walk and no strikeouts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Huff has helped his cause for being in the starting rotation out of the gate in 2011.
This afternoon’s action will be in Scottsdale at the brand new complex, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, shared by the Diamondbacks and our opponent for today, the Colorado Rockies. I will be interested to hear and/or read reaction to this complex which I have heard much about. I also hope more answers are made clearer concerning the team going forward at third base or the pitching mound. Good luck Tribe and get well, Jason.