Thursday, August 28

Tribe Sticks the Landing and Scores a 10

Something has to be said about the Indians' position before this most recent streak of wins. As of Thursday, the Tribe had won 10 in a row. Over the previous ten games they were 10-0 - funny how that works. They have won 16 of their last 19. And their record after all of that winning is 65-67, still two games below .500. That is how bad a lot of those June and July series were. As Andy has so proficiently pointed out this is mostly due to the Indians offense being more consistent. Andy also likes to point out the Tribe were playing with a worse record than their stats point to, and were due a few wins to correct that. These wins coming in a row was nice too. While I'm fond of saying that I'll take wins any day, I have to confess this level of play by the Indians makes me think of the season that could have been. While not totally a "lost" season or a hard-luck season its hard not to long for your team to be competitive at the end of the season so as to be validated by the national baseball media as being important.

The discovery of Jensen Lewis as the club's current closer hasn't seemed to hurt either. Lewis has now saved seven games on eight opportunities. He also now leads the team in saves, which didn't take very long.

Finally, the Big League Stew (A Yahoo Baseball blog) has summarized the Tribe's recent run for me:

Indians 9, Tigers 7: FEMA ought to order the Indians airlifted into the NL West, so their 10-game winning streak might have meaning. Can you imagine the look on Casey Blake's face as Grady Sizemore and Co. egress from the choppers Michael Bay-style — wearing flight suits and sunglasses, in super-slo-mo? ... I'm not going to say what I'm thinking about the Tigers. It's not nice, I'll tell you that.

The first game of this awesome series saw Zach Jackson start the game I previously predicted would be the most in-question at the start of this series. Jackson has only pitched moderately well and was facing Armando Galarraga (12-4, 3.17) who Andy pointed out had beat the Tribe three times already this season. Let this be a lesson in the Indians offensive resurgence: this offense can do anything right now. To name-drop my editor one more time, Andy was kind enough to supply me with the ballpark numbers for Comerica: Comerica is 102 last year, 101 over the past 3 years - slight hitter's park but not by much. ESPN has it 6th this year, 13th last year (agreeing with B-R) for hitters. Grady started off the night with home run number 30, making him the first 30-30 player in the AL this year and the first Tribe 30-30 guy since Joe Carter. While the 1990's Indians hit plenty of homeruns they weren't terrors on the basepaths. Just look at Manny. Of course, upon his second at bat in the third, Grady hit another home run. On they have the home team announcers on the video clips and for this one the Tigers announcers was heard to plead "Grady, stop it!" Jackson proceeded to go 6.1 innings and only give up three runs on seven hits and six strikeouts. Most importantly he didn't walk anyone. Unfortunately he was followed by Kobayashi who pitched his customary 0.0 innings. Truth be told he did pitch to two batters and was credited with a blown save, only his third on the season. Luckily for the Tribe, Gutierrez bailed out the bullpen with a solo home run in the eighth to put the Tribe up for good 4-3. Perez, Donnelly, and Lewis pitched the rest of the game with all pitching a scoreless frame except 1.2 frames in the case of Perez.

Poor, poor Tigers. Not only did this game result in their firm placement into fourth place (off-season trades don't guarantee anything) but they had to face arguably the best pitcher in the majors this year. So Cliff Lee facing off against some poor kid making his major league debut against the hottest team in baseball, not the kind of situation I would want to make my debut in. Almost no one disappointed in this game. The Tribe continued to hit. The Tigers' Lambert didn't make it out of the third. Home runs were hit by Carroll, Shoppach, and two by Ben Francisco. When Jamey Carroll hits his first home run on the year you know things are going your way. Ben's two home runs resulted in four RBI which was more than enough for Cliff, who went 7.2 and allowed his usual two runs. In a previous series against the Tigers, Lee had another sizable lead and went out there thinking he could cruise, which resulted in the Tigers coming back and eventually winning the game. Cliff said after the game he had no intention of letting that happen again. Betancourt finished off the eighth for Lee and Mujica came into the ninth with the Tribe up 10-2. However Mujica was a little shaky giving up a two-run home run to Renteria, only his ninth. After that Mujica got a few guys to pop out, ballgame! Lee wins number 19.

Game three saw Carmona take the mound and try to win back-to-back games for the first time since April. After giving up four runs in the first two innings Carmona settled down and made it through six innings, the final four being scoreless. The Circle of Trust tried to make a reappearance with Perez, Betancourt, and Lewis finishing off the game. Perez gave up two runs in his 0.1 innings with Senor Slo-Mo pitching a scoreless 1.2. Lewis came in with a big lead and surrendered a two run homerun to Magglio but luckily the Tribe had scored two at the top of the inning so the Indians still had a cushion. Offensively the Indians had no problems with Verlander or the two following relievers touching them up for a combined nine runs. Heroics were provided with Shoppach and Choo each with two-run home runs. Choo's homer was a blast to deep right. Tribe win 9-7 and make it ten straight.

From June 28 to July 9, these Cleveland Indians lost 10 straight games. This also marked their lowest point below .500 at 16. This recent streak has essentially erased that horrible slump. Unfortunately at the time those games were against the Twins, White Sox, and these Tigers. It however has been exciting to see guys like Gutierrez, Francisco, and Choo contribute like we'll need them to next year. Here's hoping Choo doesn't get called up by the South Korean army.

In other news there is a chance Victor may be called up before the 1st of Sept, but Hafner's shoulder is hurting again and the Tribe aren't in a big hurry to get Barfield back. Hafner's shoulder is bad news and that's all I can muster to say about that. There is also talk that with Reyes and Jackson pitching so well (especially Reyes) that after the rosters expand the Tribe may go with a six man rotation, with Laffey being the new addition. I wonder how that will impact Lee.

Well, bring on Seattle, who is on track to break the salary-to-win ratio record.

Game 1: Felix Hernandez, RHP (8-8, 3.28) vs. Jeremy Sowers, LHP (2-6, 5.95)
Game 2: Jarrod Washburn, LHP (5-14, 4.93) vs. Anthony Reyes, RHP (4-2, 3.23)
Game 3: Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP (3-2, 3.73) vs. Zach Jackson, LHP (0-0, 4.91)

The offense bailed out Sowers last time. I don't think you can count on the Tribe helping out again if Sowers gives up seven runs. That's not to say the Indians can't win, just that game one of this series is definitely the one to be concerned with. Rowland-Smith is also a question mark since didn't give a scouting report on him.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

1 comment:

Andy said...

The Tribe as a team are scoring 5.8 runs a game and OPS-ing .850 since that nadir. That's crazy-good.

Lewis hasn't just saved games, he's had a few tough ones that he made look easy - striking out the side of Rangers and getting the dangerous Tiger middle-lineup 1-2-3.

Sizemore hit the second pitch of his first at-bat out. Bored and disappointed with his inefficiency, he took the first pitch deep next time.

Edgar Renteria infuriates me.

The Tigers aren't poor - they're rich, they just suck.

That 6-run inning in Game 2 was delightful. I was giddy.

The Mariners are a bad club but they have some good starting pitching going against us. We'll see if the bats stay hot. I'll be there Friday, and Nick and I both on Sunday.