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.
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.
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.
After the outstanding Game 4 effort in beating Beckett, the Indians began another Game 5. Ah Game 5’s against Boston in other more highly spotlighted features did not bode well for Cleveland. The NBA Conference Semifinals losing 120-88. Also the famous “shot ” by Michael Jordan stuck a dagger right into our heart beating the Cavaliers at the buzzer. In Major League Baseball, there was a drubbing from Josh Beckett losing 7-1 in the 2007 ALCS. Still another in 1999 in the ALDS losing 12-8 to Pedro Martinez. This was game 5 of 162 of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. What would this game bring to add to the Game 5 lore? Something totally wonderful.
It would bring power. Shin-Soo Choo would start off the scoring in the bottom of the first with a two run homerun to right center field. It would continue in the bottom of the 6th with a three run homerun by Asdrubal Cabrera off Dan Wheeler. It would also add a two run shot by Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox and a solo shot by Matt LaPorta would cap off the night.
It would bring a lot of beanings. It started with Orlando Cabrera getting beaned by Matsusaka in the 1st. In retaliation, Pedroia received a HBP by Talbot in the top of the 3rd inning. Dennys Reyes hit not one but two players in a row. First Buck, then LaPorta in the 6th inning . What was going on?
It was freezing, or at least it felt this way. The temperature seemed to be dropping instead of rising.
The fog reminded me of some movie in London starring Sherlock Holmes or the Werewolf. How fitting since the Red Sox nation was indeed trying to solve the mystery of why their team had not won a game so far or were going through a horror movie coming through a fog, something Acta called Dracula weather. It was a very well pitched game. Nothing was going out of the park this day. Whenever the ball would get in the air, it would look to be going out and then be an easy popcorn fly ball and caught. I kept telling myself that the first one to score would win this game.
The Indians missed a first chance to score when Austin Kearns popped a bunt foul only to have it caught by Jarrod Saltalamacchia leaving Shelley Duncan stranded.The following inning however, Asdrubal Cabrera shocked the Sox by hitting a cue ball like he was playing pool nailing the ball down the third base corner pocket. It looked to me from my angle to be closer than it was to be too risky. I thought Everett could be tagged out but he was not. Thus the Indians were successful in making it a 1-0 lead
The errors in judgment continued for the Red Sox when Darnell McDonald overran second base. From my angle, Darnell looked safe as well as Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to be out earlier in the game at second base at first view. The replays show things to be different at least for the Ellsbury call. I think however being on the road and 0-5 plays a psychological edge in how the game may be viewed. Thus it is harder to get close calls in your favor.
The Indians are now in first place tied with the favored Chicago White Sox and upstart KC Royals as they begin their first road trip test. It is not a typo. The late, great Dave Nilhaus will be honored adding emotion for the Mariners to do wellas well as Wedge trying to beat his former organization that he won AL Manager of the Year in 2007. After sweeping the Red Sox and about to face Wedge, the Indians will be full of emotion too. I hope the Indians can get off to a great start on the road and continue their winning ways. We shall see beginning tonight. It is fitting to say how sweep it is to slay the Goliath Red Sox, be tied for first for the moment in the American League Central and now honor a great baseball broadcaster named David. Yes the story is indeed fitting. Thank God for it all.
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.