Friday, June 6

The stars at night, are big and bright

With JHH on the DL for a few more days, I'm here to recap the wild and wacky Tribe-Rangers series and look ahead to the weekend in Detroit.

The good news: we scored some runs! Lots of them! The Indians put up an uncharacteristic 13, 7, and 15 tallies up on the board while taking two the first three games in the Lone Star State, then notched 4 in the first inning yesterday before realizing they were the '08 Tribe offense and shutting down for 8 innings.

Even with the weak finish, the four-day production was enough to lift the Tribe to 11th in the AL in OPS and 10th in OBP. I think we were last or next-to-last in those categories going in, so that's nice.

The bad news: we didn't pitch very well! CC Sabathia actually had the best outing by a starter with 6 IP and 5 runs (4 earned) allowed, besting Aaron Laffey (5 IP, 8 ER), Lee (5 IP, 6 ER, 1 cooler destroyed, and a gift win), and Tom Mastny (hopelessly trying to get someone, anyone out). Our once-vaunted rotation has returned to Earth, and the bullpen continues its sub-mediocre even-numbered campaign, two trends that concern me.

Part of that, of course, is playing in a small, windy stadium like where the Rangers play - that helped inflate the Indians' totals, though not as much as the fact that the Rangers absolutely refuse to ever make a commitment to having strong pitching (Exhibit A: Sidney Ponson). The other part is that the Rangers can mash - they're first in the league in team OPS (19 points higher than 2nd-place Boston) and 2nd in OBP. Debate how much of that is park-related, but it's a strong lineup. Only two Indians (Francisco, Sizemore) outpace Texas' team OPS; next closest is David Dellucci, who falls over 50 points short.

I didn't like Milton Bradley before this series, and watching him firebomb us for four days did not help.

The Indians scored 8 runs in a 3-game set at Kansas City the weekend before this. Casey Blake had 7 RBI in the first game of the series.

I said a while back that it would be easier, or at least more fun, to root for a subpar Tribe if they were playing 11-10 games instead of 1-0 games, and boy was I right. These games were really entertaining, even the ones we lost. Monday's was particularly amusing - we squander almost all of Casey Blake's personal 8-3 lead and come back with a 2-run HR by Ben Francisco and a 3-run job by Dellucci. Thank you and good night.

Speaking of Francisco, that gentleman can hit. He came to the plate late in Wednesday's game already 5-5 with 5 singles, and then made his only out on a sharply-lined ball to left, hit as well as any on the night. It's also nice having Big League Choo on the club, not least because these two guys represent about the only thing close to accurate predictions any of us had in our season preview article.

That same evening, Ryan Garko collected 4 hits and drove in 6, all on singles. Nice work if you can get it.

Did you see Clifton pacing and smashing stuff in the dugout during his start? I can't believe how long he kept that up! Eventually you get bored and the moment passes, but the Phifer just kept on pacing and stewing.

Let's say it again: Spaulding Mastny was almost impossibly bad. Where is Jeremy Sowers again? I'm sure there's a simple explanation, maybe options or something.

My favorite random moment of the series was when a Tribe pitcher had Ranger batter Josh Hamilton down in the count 1-2, and the catcher did that thing where they half-stand-up with their mitt high enough to catch the pitch way up in the zone and entice the batter to strike out swinging at a high pitch. The battery got the ball just where they wanted it and so apparently did Hamilton, hitting the ball an estimated 789 feet. Wow.

Hamilton, though he's played great, further epitomizes the Rangers' pitching-phobic approach to organization building - to get him, Texas dealt Edinson Volquez to the Reds, where he currently sports like a -0.90 ERA.

Next up for the Tribe is 4 in Detroit, facing a Tiger club fresh off a sweep out west at the hands of the Athletics. Go Tribe!

AP Photo/David Pellerin

1 comment:

Figgs said...

Sowers had just started a game in Buffalo the day before Cleveland realized they needed a starter for that game. My solution would have been to just send up who ever was scheduled to pitch that night in AAA, but I guess throwing a sub-par bullpen guy to the wolves is reasonable.