Tagged: Michael Brantley

Indians win 14th straight at home in walk-off style

What once was looking ugly turned into a beautiful sight before and during the game. With ominous skies overhead and a threat of rain over Lake Erie, the Indians and Rays were stopped by a threat of rain. The rain never came at Progressive Field, thanks to several reports.

The Indians’ Grady Sizemore opened the game with some lead-off thunder but still no rain fell as the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning. The Rays matched that thunder by hitting a homerun by Matt Joyce in the top of the 4th inning to make it 1-1.

The Indians added a solo shot of their own in the bottom of that inning with a solo shot of their own by Michael Brantley to make it 2-1 in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Matt Joyce tied it in the top of the 6th with a double off the CF wall that scored Ben Zobrist all the way from first base. It was now 2-2.

The bottom of the 6th found the Indians able to take advantage of the Rays mistakes when Michael Brantley had singled. This was followed by the killer walks to Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan.Bases were now loaded and remained loaded even though Grady Sizemore lined into a fielder’s choice force-out that the pitcher Juan Cruz chose to throw home to get the lead runner. Bases were still loaded when Asdrubal Cabrera singled home Matt LaPorta. A passed ball helped score Jack Hannahan off the catcher, John Jaso. It was now 4-2.

Yet, I still thought Tampa had it in them to come back. And they did. In the top of the 7th, ex-Indian Kelly Shoppach hit a ball to score teammate Sean Rodriguez who led the inning off with a double. In the top of 8, Evan Longoriaadded a homerun and it was tied AGAIN at 4-4.

Through it all, the Indians did not surrender the lead. The Indians waited to strike in the end by allowing Brantley to be walked and the rest as they say was a walk into history.

The Cleveland Indians continued their winning ways at home for the 14th consecutive time. The Indians were not dramatic, not grand, not even getting runners in by hitting them in. (1-14 with runners tonight in scoring position) Tonight required a walk by a willing Rays pitcher named Kyle Farnsworth.

The Indians are getting the job done by playing team baseball, jumping on teams early and late. The weapons are not predictable because each and every game tends to be different. Sometimes it is a homerun, a game winning hit, superb pitching or tonight’s free pass.

Whatever the case, the Indians are proving themselves to be in every game and exciting to watch, for me, win or lose. I have enjoyed the team’s “never say die” attitude and ability to make it happen right away or at the last minute. This team is doing what it takes to win. Nothing more needs to be said!

FIRST PLACE is on the line!

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.

OFFENSE

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.

PITCHING

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.

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

Spring into action young man. Let the kid play!

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We are now 2 weeks until Spring begins. We are now 26 days until the Cleveland Indians play ball. Michael Brantley has been kept out the lineup for 4 days now including today because of what is reported to be “leg soreness” according to local reports. Yet if Opening Day were today, he said he could go and play. Jason Donald, who injured his hand over the weekend after being hit by Gavin Floyd on Saturday did not take batting practice and remains day to day. I really think the Indians want to make sure these two men are coming north April 1st when games for Opening Day at Progressive Field against the White Sox.

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However, one young man I would like to see play is Lonnie Chisenhall. I attended the Indians Town Hall meeting in February and another fan asked Manny Acta about this. Manny wants to see him play at AAA a while before handing him the everyday third base duties. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweeted this in one of his updates. I speculate this to be the case because of what happened to former Indian and current Reds 2nd baseman, Brandon Phillips. In rushing him, I can remember seeing Phillips go back and forth between Cleveland, Ohio and then AAA Buffalo. This helped lead to his release because of his inconsistency.He went to the Reds and well, we know how successful he has been for them. I believe the Indians want to be certain Chisenhall plays at AAA for awhile before bringing him up to the Major League club.

I argue that he is ready. Chisenhall is showing me consistency where other players just are not producing. I think Lonnie Chisehall can be a viable conteded on this club from day 1. His performance is awe-inspiring. Chisenhall in 7 games is 7-15 2 doubles, 2 homers 4 RBI with a .556 batting avg. I think he has heart and wants to be that great third baseman that has eluded Cleveland since Casey Blake was traded.

To the Indians front office’s credit, this is Spring Training and I think if Chisenhall were to come up to the major league team at this time, he probably would be a bench player. Acta wants Lonnie to receive everyday at bats and not be bench bound or be forced to fill a role when Jason Donald or Jayson Nix who were with the club last year are scheduled to be ready to go.

I think however, in a town where potential high prospects are needed to help hype up and makethis team better faster, the pressure comes from us fans for them to be “saviors” and push the team for more success. For those who want “@theChizKid” up here in Cleveland like myself, I guess the best thing to do is be patient and try to travel down to Columbus which is only 2 hours away. If he is successful there, it will be sooner, not later that Progressive Field will be home to the top prospect. Meanwhile as with all the “kids” we will just have to trust that the front office knows what they are doing with Lonnie.

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News from WBC, Camelback, and the anticipation of Wood and Smith made me feel warm as an Arizona day!

The morning brought news that made me smile.

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The news broke that Choo and his Korean team would be part of the second round in the WBC as they won 1-0. Not only are they a rivalry with the two countries, there is a part of me that thinks the rivalry continues when Ichiro return to the Mariners and Choo to the Indians. the reason for this is listed here. Also was the news that last night De Rosa and the USA advanced to the second round with a win against Venezuela reviewed here. So, all in all, the Tribe’s week was starting off well. However these results were not going to help at a place called Camelback Ranch. 

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Enter some potential and former WBC participants to pick up the slack. Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez helped lead the tribe with other great performances from Andy Cannizaro, Tony Graffinino and Michael Brantley, the same one I thought of highly when he first arrived. Now we are on a winning streak. As meaningless as these Spring training games are, a win is a win is a win.

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Looking forward to games this week and who to watch for, Tribe fans have to be eagerly anticipating the debut of some Wood on Tuesday followed by a Smith on Wednesday. I wrote about them here

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There is much riding on these contests. With God’s help and grace, these games can be a tuneup to an opportunity to shine like the sun for 2009, much like it does in the Arizona sky, mostly every day.

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Photos courtesy of  www.cleveland.com and http://www.yahoo.com

Batter up!

26cfa754511dd5bdd9b5167d8bdf4647.jpgimage1618103.jpg26cfa754511dd5bdd9b5167d8bdf4647.jpg9885296102a6a5304f5f6f7c5f6ccf48.jpgThe 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.

The red bat, made out of wood, continued to influence my first team in tee ball instruction. It was a good luck charm as we were winning game after game. It was a bat used by all. It became a necessity for all. I remember one game we were losing and the coach was doing all he could to stall the game and strongly asked my mother to “GO GET THAT BAT!” Due to that bat, we came from seven down and won in our last at bat. It was all due to that bat, at least that is what I was told.
In reality, it is not the bat but the batter and the grace of God that gives one the talent to play this wonderful game. I’m so thankful we have a team whose members put in tireless work to get better in all aspects of the game including batting.
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