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.
2007: A 3-1 ALCS lead, 1 game from the World Series, brought the matchup against Josh Beckett. The blogs the day before Game 5 brought out comments that were amazing. The fans of a team down 3-1 were tremendously confident that Beckett would save their season and send them to the 2007 World Series. We, Tribe fans, remember this and get reminded about it often.
2011: Game 4 This was personal to me. I was commenting on Twitter how the Indians could not give the Red Sox 4 losses in the ALCS of 2007 but they could tonight and to make it even better, the starter was Josh Beckett. The same Josh Beckett, with this cocky look and attitude that made this fan want to wipe it right off with their fist and adjust it. “What is it with this guy, why does he act like this?”, I would think. Now Beckett is to be respected for his accomplishments. But does he respect Cleveland? So many athletes do not respect Cleveland, at least publically. What we are crying out for in Cleveland is respect. Granted it was only the 4th game of the 2011 campaign, but for me, it was so very important to beat this guy.
Also, the Red Sox were reeling and I was taught that if you have someone against the ropes or on the ground, in sports don’t let the team or player back up. Rather keep them down. If them can, blow them out, keep scoring, don’t let them have any breathing room. Losing 24-5 to the Red Sox in 1986 and losing 23-7 in Game 4 of the ALDS are two of the worst defeats. It was important to keep this franchise losing, at least in Game 4 of the 2011 season. This is what the Indians did.
Behind the efforts of Josh Tomlin, the Red Sox offense was limited to 1 run on 4 hits, the Goliath-type offense with its estimated 162 million dollar payroll. Cleveland was David with its 49 million dollar payroll. Its offense like the biblical account, came ready to strike stones right at the Red Sox players’ salaries. Today we did it. We kept them winless at 0-4 Sure it is not a 4th loss in the ALCS or NBA Eastern Conference playoffs but it still is a fourth loss that keeps them down for another day at least.
They played like a team advancing runners, getting key hits and sacrificing runners home. Isnt this the way the game should be played? It is especially if you are David in Major League Baseball and they are. The Indians now currently stand at 2 wins and 2 losses against teams so far picked to win their respective divisions, the Red and White Sox. We ourselves currently wear a blue sock. I guess we are helping Boston feel blue at the start of today and that is a good thing. Go Tribe!
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?
Follow me @mlbtribefan on Twitter and/or add comments below. Thanks. I look forward to reading your comments.
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.
Many times in Spring training I am bringing plenty of extra sheets. Cross out, erase, change numbers, change names. Who’s that? What’s his name? Something like Albert and Costello.
So when one sees the box score of 7-6 on Sunday, they might be upset to see that we blew a 6-1 lead. Yeah, I know the games do not count. So I looked deeper to what positive this Spring Training game showed.
The first thing that popped out to me was the styles of play exhibited by the two teams. The pitchers’ duel until the bottom of the seventh the way Feller would have pitched it (1-1)turned into a barrage of runs from the 7th inning on, showing 6 runs for Cincinnati and 5 for Cleveland. Thus, the 7-6 final score.This resembled the way Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine teams played. Score, score, score!
Secondly, the third basemen did well. When reading about how the Indians are looking for a third baseman and 5th starter, it was great to see everyone in contention for these spots getting their work in and doing well. Jason Donald, one third baseman candidate and the one to most likely win the position at least at the start of the 2011 campaign went 1-2 with a double and a run scored. The third baseman of the future, Lonnie Chisenhall, went 2-3 with two doubles and two runs batted in.
Last but not least, in terms of the 5th starter candidates, their lines showed how the two gentlemen want this spot to be theirs. Josh Tomlin, one candidate for #5 started the game finishing with two innings pitched, giving up 1 hit and throwing 1 strikeout. The other candidate, Aaron Laffey, pitched 1 inning only giving up 1 hit.
In both cases, the competition for the fith starter and hot corner was heating up in the desert right out of the gate. When it comes to this production, I, as a fan like to see the depth it creates and the options it presents for Manager Manny Acta.
Notes from Game 2. 2/28/2011 This day back home in northeast Ohio brought flooding to many, myself included. Not a pleasant situation at all. Yet in terms of baseball, it was pleasant as someone opened the flood gates not to the parched earth of the Arizona desert but to the run department of the Cleveland Indians. While most of us were trying to assess the damage to our property back home, the Indians were breaking open the flood gates with one run off Bronson Arroyo
the possible #1 starter, one run off the closer,
Francisco Cordero, two runs off Dontrelle Willis,
trying to get a spot on the starting rotation and four runs, three earned off Nick Masset
(the man only gave up 20 earned runs last year in 76 innings pitched. Already he gave up 3 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning.) I know Reds fans, the games do not count but still, I would be concerned especially with Masset.
Offensively, I was impressed with Ezequiel Carrera, the AAA gentleman who we received when dealing Russell the muscle Branyan to Seattle last season. Speaking of muscle, Ezequiel is showing consistency going 1-3 with 2 runs batted in game 2 and in game 1, he went 1-2 with a homerun. Take that muscle! I’m keeping my eye on this kid’s progress.
Today the Dodgers come to town, with the very recent loss of Duke Snider. I remember me as a three year old living in AZ wearing a Dodger cap. I was a fan but never saw them play in person at that time. There were no D-Backs then, so for me, I too I share my condolences and tip my cap for one of the greatest Dodgers, Mr. Snider. Thank you, Duke!