Tagged: Matt LaPorta

Indians pitching from top to bottom continues to shine.

Monday afternoon I was scouting Tyler Chatwood on YouTube and saw that he had a pretty good sinker and wondered if the Indians would not benefit from going up against a rookie. Luckily, I was wrong. The more I read about Chatwood as impressive as he looked and was on the Angels’ depth chart, the more I remembered Cleveland Indians’ history.

It was 1986 and a highly touted prospect of the Indians was then Greg Swindell. He was called up to make his debut against the 1986 Boston Red Sox. That team kicked Greg “the Flounder” around and won 23-5 by sitting primarily on a fastball. Back to the present day, it was Tyler Chatwood’s debut. On the radio, the play by play announcer, Tom Hamilton, said that while the Indians did not have a deep scouting report on Chatwood, the hitting coach prepared the batter by telling them to sit on the fastball. They did sit on the fastball and took full advantage of it to run their winning streak to 8 games and an 8-2 start.

Asdrubal Cabrera started off the scoring with a homerun to deep center field to make it 1-0. Austin Kearns hit a double off the wall at right field to score Orlando Cabrera who hit a line drive single to centerfield to start the offensive onslaught in the second inning. Matt LaPorta added a two run shot to right field that scored him and Kearns. Now the score was 4-0 and a rout seemed to be in place especially with the starting pitching that the Indians have been showing so far in 2011. However, there would be no more scoring. 4-0 was the final score.

Tonight, the Indians will go against Dan Haren, who I always have seen as a true threat, a true ace. The Indians however, with an eight game streak are meeting the challenges they face with such professionalism. On paper, they still are young, inexperienced and yes, shocking even me. Hopefully Fausto Carmona is up to the task of keeping the team in the game and the offense can do well to score just enough. This one can only hope.

On the lower end in A ball, the Lake County Captains, a Cleveland Indians affiliate pitched a no hitter. Three pitchers Trey Haley, Francisco Jimenez and Clayton Ehlert combined for the first no hitter in minor league baseball for 2011 against the Dayton, Ohio Dragons, an affliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The game was the first one at home for the Captains since winning last year’s Midwest League Championship. What a homecoming it was. To read the article go here. Things are really getting exciting as the Cleveland Indians are adding much needed depth.

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“My oh my!” BIG inning helps Tribe win 5!

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.

Opening Day: A tale of two halves. What? This is not the NFL!

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

A tale of two games. One rocky, the other smooth

The Cleveland Indians enter the second weekend of Spring Training games and first Saturday of action with a record of 3-3. What does the last two games tell us in particular about the 2011 Cleveland Indians?

The game vs. Texas. 3/5/2011
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1. NOT ONE PUNCHOUT The former closer did not strike us out one time. Neftali Perez pitched two innings against us. Sure he did not give up a run, nor a hit but he walked us once and NEVER punched us out.

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2. PATIENCE IS THE KEY! In fact against the pitchers chosen to face us this day, the Indians as a team drew 11 walks against Texas while only being struck out 4 times. Now if only we could create some consistency.
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3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY!.The Indians were able to not let the deficits keep them down. They were 5-18 with runners in scoring position .278 batting average and even allowed some of the 11 walks to help us recapture the lead at one point in the game. Matt LaPorta came up with the big blow off the bench as a pinch hitter with a grand slam off a pitcher called Hamburger. As this video shows, LaPorta can hit.

4. WE STILL LOST THE OPPORTUNITY TO WIN. As John Michael Montgomery sang in Life’s a Dance. “Had sure things blow up in my face” Yes Josh Judy could not close out the game but as the lyrics later state. “Been knocked down by the slamming door
Picked myself up and came back for more.” This is indeed what Josh Judy and the Indians need to do. I can’t wait until Josh Judy gets another chance. Hang in there, kid!
Perhaps next time this will be the result as it was then.

 

One thing is for sure. We sure played better against the Texas Rangers than I can remember in the recent past. This is a good sign.

After a rocky finish, the Indians against the Rockies played rather smoothly. Listening to the game for most of the later afternoon reminded me of a lazy Sunday afternoon in the sunshine at Progressive Field. Luckily the Indians did not play lazily.

1. THEY CAME TO PLAY The Indians took advantage of errors early and hit their way to two runs early. They then added power to the lineup with homeruns in the 4th inning by Chad Huffman and in the 6th by Lonnie Chisenhall. In hearing Jim Rosenhaus yesterday afternoon. I sensed an aggression in his call of the game and a drive today from the Tribe that was great to hear.

2. THERE WAS NEVER THAT BIG INNING What a difference a day makes. I heard slight jams starting to form but then heard the Indians get out of it as soon as it sounded like it might form. This made the day easier to handle for Tribe fans. What a way to end the traditional work week with a win. Fausto did give up a first run for the spring but never made me sweat.

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Up next is a split squad day for the Tribe. One game against the Seattle Mariners managed by Eric Wedge and the other at Goodyear against the AL Central Division rival White Sox.
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It will be an interesting upcoming day just because of the history the team has had against Ozzie and with Eric Wedge. All in all, it should at least be entertaining in the first opportunities to face either manager this year.

More runs given up than hits, yet Tribe still able to hold on for the W!

I remember some years back seeing a young Jake Peavy with the Padres on WGN against the Cubs. The exact totals of the game or details escape me. I do remember it was during the day, however. What I do remember was how much pinpoint control was used by Peavy. “This guy is very tough to hit”, I thought.

MLB: Padres vs Dodgers July 26

 

I heard about the matchup and was thinking it was going to be one of those 1-0 or 2-1 games. After all, with Fausto pitching so well in Spring Training and Peavy, showing me that he had that control every team wants in an ace, I was just hopeful that our effort offensively was not going to be as OFFENSIVE as it was on Opening Day.

I was watching MLB Network showing the rain falling in at U.S. Cellular Field and thinking the game might not be played. To help me get my baseball fix in just in case the game might not be played, I took my son to his first baseball practice of the season. It had to be cut short due to showers in the area. April had returned. I was getting too used to May-like weather.

Thinking the game might be rained out as I was watching the Bucs and Dodgers begin their game, I heard the Indians were going to play now that the rain stopped. As I was channel surfing, I saw that the Indians were down 3-0 early. I thought to myself “Are we ever going to score?” After all it was now the 3rd and it was not good to see us down by 3 when only 1 hit had been given up. With an ace like Peavy and the temperature allowing breathing to be seen, I thought these factors were going to lead to the demise of the team for the second straight game.

New York Yankees opening day at new Yankee Stadium


Olympics Day 5 - Baseball
The highlight for me did not come from the offense even though it was nice to see key hits with men on base especially from Sizemore to help tie the score, Matt LaPorta’s double to help us take a 4-3 lead and Andy Marte getting a RBI with a hard shot to Mark Teahen at 3rd leading to a fielder’s choice.

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Instead my focus was on our new closer, Chris Perez who we received for Mark DeRosa last year. One may ask “Why?” You see I have seen closers that blow stellar efforts from starting pitching. Tonight I was definitely not in the mood for a Jose “Messup” Mesa-like effort from anyone.

To see Chris not give in even after giving up a walk to the second batter faced in Mark Kotsay even though Andy Marte had to help him in the end with some fine play at first to end the game gave me great satisfaction and great confidence going into tonight’s game as Justin Masterson is due to start against Gavin Floyd and a chance to win series #1 of 2010. I can only hope! Thank God for this opportunity for the Tribe!

The view from the bullpen was oh so nice!

Yesterday afternoon I found myself right by the Indians bullpen watching each scheduled pitcher warm up before going out to pitch. It was truly a sight to behold. It was also my first road game that I saw of the Tribe in my life. This was a very exciting event for me.

The game began with me observing batting practice.
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Matt LaPorta’s batting practice would pay off as he would get the game’s frst hit. Batting practice as routine as it looks really tries to focus on pregame preparation. LaPorta’s stats were 1-2 with the game’s first hit. 

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Eric Wedge would go over pregame preparation with Brian Datz before the game began.

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The pitching was outstanding. Carl Pavano gave up no runs on no hits in his work today. He started by stretching out his muscles with a stretchcord. He also performed long toss and finally pitched off the mound. Let me tell you first appearances can be deceiving but he appears to be an intense guy who really is focusing on proving the Yankees and the rest of Major League Baseball wrong.Here he was walking back to the dugout before the game after warmups..Carl ended up pitching two innings of shutout ball  
ScottLewis.jpgOutstanding pitching prevailed as Scott Lewis came in to preserve a no-hitter and keep Oakland from scoring.Another two innings of shutout ball was thrown by him. Scott’s delivery was outstanding wth pinpoint control. It was outstanding to see how his focus was unwavering.  

Rafael Perez picked up where he left off last year while also preserving the shutout. He had two innings of no hit baseball. He picked up where he left off from the previous year.

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 Here is an example of what happens after each spring training game when one has to run in the outfield after the pitcher has completed the amount of innings he has thrown.

 

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Edward Mujica was the only pitcher who was afficted with any damage. I noticed that the bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez was giving him some pointers of how to get the ball lower in the strikezone mind you as he was warming up. He gave up the only run and two hits against the A’s this day.

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Hector Rondon pitched well. He was one that was able to clean up the mess. I was impressed with his great composure. His stats showed one inning of shutout baseball. I hope he will have a future in the Tribe’s bullpen soon.

All in all it was a very good day to see the Tribe’s pitching almost reach perfection. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Still it was fun at the old ball game.