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.
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.
Last night after I was coming from the game was the lowest I think I have felt as a fan this season including Spring Training. I had all these ideas streaming through my head about stopping the blogs until they won again to firing Wedge to moving DeRosa out of the 2 hole in the lineup to wearing Red Sox to make the Tribe mad enough to win Monday. I was trying to think which approach would work to get this team to realize the window of competition is closing fast
Today, not even really motivated about the game, I worked at the game just blocking out everything. “4-0” someone said. “So”, I said. Its still early, I thought.
Whatever drink this is, let me have another Sipp!
Hearing Tony Sipp come into the game, I was interested to hear how he would do. Tony came without fear and SHUT the Twins down. What a inning that I hope defines how we respond often. It was especially impressive to see him SHUT DOWN Morneau like he did to help the Tribe get out of the inning. It was 4-2 and a BIG SIGH was given as we were able to escape disaster.
Wood gets save, although I find myself sweating it out!
When Wood came out, everyone did not expect what occurred. Getting two on with none out was something Bob Wickman or Joe Borowski would do but not Kerry Wood. Still, to see him get out of it with a double play made it even more special. Hopefully, the save opportunities will increase in the very near future.
Gotta do the wash!
There is something about the color RED! When the Indians had their 1990’s run, their socks were RED and they had some of their greatest teams EVER! Still, as of late, the RED SOX have been the team to beat, winning titles in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Our team has struggled against them often. What a great time to beat them! They have won 10 in a row. They have great pitching, yet in watching them last night, I saw a common theme that will help us win.
In my last entry posted, I talked about being focused. FOCUS is the key, here! ERRORLESS defense, smart pitching and key hitting and jumping ahead early and keeping the intensity on the SOX and WE CAN WIN! Hopefully, yesterday will help jump start a streak that will lead to a series win and get us back into some RESPECTABILITY!
Now where is that bleach? After all, making the RED SOX WHITE makes them less intimidating.
When reading the pitching probable for yesterday’s matchup courtesy of MLB.com, it showed Cleveland’s Cliff Lee with a 12-4 lifetime record and 5-0 in 2008 vs. the Royals. On the other side, it showed KC’s Bannister with a 2-0 record against the Indians at Progressive Field. It showed me that a pitching duel was going to take place and someone’s streak was going to be tarnished.
The weather started out pretty raw, yet fair. As I worked, it was okay, as long as I kept working. The Royals philosophy is one that moves the runners. It says “get on, move the runners, hit and run and do the little things to get the runners home” This is exactly what they did as Coco Crisp got on with a double to the opposite field only to be moved over with two sacrifice flies. (1-0 KC)
Before last night, The Tribe had played from behind in 8 of the 14 games played so far. In those games where they have trailed, the Indians were 2-6. The odds were not in their favor trailing once again. Still there was hope because the Tribe trailed the previous night and came from behind to hold on 8-7 for the win.
However, Brian Bannister had the Tribe off balance all night. When we were thinking fast, he pitched slower. When we we thinking slow, he pitched fast. In the 4th, we had our best chance to score something with two consecutive hits, yet Jhonny Peralta hit a groundball to shortstop Mike Aviles who was able to get the lead runner throwing to the third baseman Mark Teahan. Shin Soo Choo followed with a flyout to centerfield and Kelly Shoppach struck out looking.
As the night went on, the night became bonechilling cold. The Indians’ opportunities seemed to grow colder also. As for the Royals, in the 7th, two straight singles by Mike Jacobs and Alberto Callaspo followed by Willie Bloomquist two batters later. (KC 2-0)
The Indians saved their best chance for scoring in the ninth when with one out, Jhonny Peralta walked and Shin Soo Choo hit a single up the middle. Kelly Shoppach hit a ball that looked like it was going to carry yet DeJesus was able to catch it as he fell to the ground. Peralta and Choo were able to advance to second and third once there was a passed ball. Now with one hit, we could tie it up. Instead, Trevor Crowe struck out looking.
The Indians seemed like a plane ready to take off, yet being grounded at the last minute looking at the Royals as they ran just enough to score twice. It was a rotten night for both, the Royals just took advantage of the opportunities a little more.
One bright spot of the night was the arrival of Tony Sipp. His inning of work in the top of the ninth was OUTSTANDING! Seeing him strikeout Mike Jacobs was AWESOME! Anytime I see a power pitcher strike out a power hitter especially since the pitcher was on my team is just simply AWESOME! It will be great to see him in action if yesterday was a sign of a bullpen transformation.
Now the Indians have trailed in 9 of the 15 games played and are 2-7 in those games. No wonder 5-10 is our record. With baseball there is always hope that today will put us on a winning streak which is what I want when facing Boston. Hey, how about the next four games, guys? After all, the weather will be getting nicer.
Its the first day of Spring! Hooray! What does this mean? It depends on who you ask?
For some, it means Spring Cleaning!
For others, its means continued soul searching
For some its time to think about getting the lawn back in shape
Some desire to get thin after the long Winter slumber!
Whatever the reason or motivation, the change from Winter to Spring is great, yet challenging. For the Indians organization, this was no exception. As was reported from various Indians media sources, quite a lot of things happened in the last few days.
First, Adam Miller, one of the Indians top prospects was reported to have to have career threatening surgery unless he can learn to change the way he throws and gain enough command to maintain the ability to compete as a pitcher.
Next, the great trim happened for 15 players on the Spring Training Roster.
Along with Adam Miller, RHPs John Meloan and Juan Salas, LHP Tony Sipp and 2B Luis Valbuena were optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
RHP Hector Rondon and C Carlos Santana were optioned to Double-A Akron.
RHP Jack Cassel, LHP David Huff, C Armando Camacaro, 1B Jordan Brown, 3B Wes Hodges, INF Jesus Merchan, 1B Beau Mills and OF Stephen Head were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Just when I thought the routine was over, the news broke that Fausto Carmona now was bruised in the forearm in an intrasquad game and is now day to day. Quick, someone get these guys healthy for April 6th. I want to think we have a team left not looking like this before the season starts.
Luckily Aaron Laffey came out healthy again. His stats against the Brewers at Maryvale Stadium were 4 innings pitched, 3 runs all earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts and no homeruns. There was nothing that told me the fifth starter wasn’t his to have, still.
Today, Carl Pavano is scheduled to faceoff against the A’s in Goodyear. My goals are to stay in good health and just hang on until April 6th. I just hope all the players and coaches can just hang on, stay healthy out of camp and continue healthy throughout the upcoming 2009 season.
After all, in Ohio, its all about hanging on…
By the way, good luck to Ohio State and Cleveland State today. Hopefully both can hang on today also in the 64 team NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. We shall see.