Thursday, May 15

Tribe Sweep & Off To The Nati

As you may have heard, the consecutive scoreless streak by the Tribe is over at forty four and a third innings. However, the Tribe did win today's day game 4-2 over the Oakland A's. Aaron Laffey picked up the win having pitched seven innings without giving up a run but did have an error that resulted in an unearned run, kind of.

The highlight of this series has to be the amazing pitching, especially from the starters. Following the back-to-back nine-inning shutouts from Lee and Carmona, from the last series with Toronto, Paul Byrd had his finest performance of the year going seven and a third and striking out seven without giving up a run in a 4-0 Tribe win. The gem of this series and maybe this homestand came from C.C. going nine scoreless innings and striking out eleven on the way to a 2-0 Tribe victory. Laffey's performance today lowers his ERA to 1.25 and evens his record at 2-2.

The good news for Laffey is that Jason Tyner was sent down today to make room for Jeremy Sowers to pitch tomorrow. That looks to give Laffey at least one more start before Jake Westbrook returns. What do you do with a guy like Laffey at this point? I can only imagine the Indians front office will send him to AAA to continue to start every 5th game. Other options include putting Byrd in the bullpen, but how do you do that after Tuesday's performance?

The offense hasn't looked as bad these last few games, but that is kind of relative. Ryan Garko had a home run in back to back games. Travis Hafner had two RBI in the series. Ben Francisco continues to hit the ball well too.

This was a big series for the Tribe. The A's came in a half game ahead of the Angels and leave one game behind. The Tribe hadn't fared too well before against the A's this season but was able to win the season series thanks to the sweep at home. Yes, thanks to the MLB schedule the Tribe has now played all their games against Oakland for the season but hasn't played more than 4 series against the AL Central.

While everyone in the national media has been concentrating on the starting pitching, and I really do enjoy the Tribe getting as much positive media as possible, the intriguing pitching situation is currently happening in the bullpen. With Rafael Betancourt struggling recently it appears as if Masahide Kobayashi could be pitching his way into the closer's role. Masa got his first major league save this week and picked up his second save today coming in after Betancourt loaded the bases with only one out. If Joe Borowski returns soon it will be interesting to see how Wedge uses him and how long a leash he gives both Borowski and Betancourt in the near-term.

So the Tribe now sit atop the AL Central with a 22-19 record and winners of eight of their last ten. The second place Twins are a game and a half behind at .500. The AL Central isn't the division it has been the last few years. That's not to say the Detroit Tigers may not get hot and win a few games but you have to be surprised they sit at 16-25 and six games back at this point in the season.

So the Tribe are off to Cincinnati to participate in that wonderful experiment called inter-league play.

Game 1: Jeremy Sowers, LHP (0-0, 5.06) vs. Johnny Cueto, RHP (2-4, 5.91)
Game 2: Fausto Carmona, RHP (4-1, 2.40) vs. Aaron Harang, RHP (2-5, 3.32)
Game 3: Cliff Lee, LHP (6-0, 0.67) vs. Edinson Volquez, RHP (6-1, 1.12)

Hmm, what game looks the best on paper? Well I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Sunday's matchup of Lee and Volquez with a combined ERA under 2.00. This should be an interesting series. Expect to see Hafner mostly pinch hit but may get one start at first base.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)


Nick said...

I'd like to see Laffey Taffy stay in the pen when Jake gets back, and if everyone stays healthy I'd think long and hard (that's what she said) about trading Byrd in late June or early July.

I'd like to see Kobayashi get a fair shake in the closer's role; hopefully he can get himself entrenched before JoeBo returns. Move Betancourt back to his eighth inning role where he's proven.

Interleague play blows.

JHH said...

I agree with you on the Masa Betancourt moves but that locks up the 8th and 9th innings, what do you do with Borowski?

Given the crazy situation where Borowski returns and actually closes with a good degree of success and Betancourt reestablishes his dominance of the eighth then the circle of trust would be at an all-time high, and Eric Wedge's head explodes.

hateyankees said...

I say leave Laffey in the rotation and let CC DH until we start hitting, or someone in the rotation stumbles.

Andy said...

Send Laffey down, have him continue to start every 5th day in Buffalo. His services probably will be needed here this year and certainly next - no need to have him languish in the bullpen.

Masa should get a shot to close; even though JoeBo is an official Proven Closer, he's not an especially effective pitcher at this stage.