Thursday, April 23

Now that's the Royals I remember

Yes, I'm going to ruin the ending for you, but the Tribe took their first series win of 2009. The Royals came into this series with a 7-5 record and are leaving with a 8-7 mark. Overall, there wasn't too much to get excited about, but winning a series is a step in the right direction and we've seen a few of those this last week, so let's hope a little warmer weather helps the Tribe out this weekend.

Tuesday's game one of the series was the scene of an offensive outburst (outburst) by the Tribe in in the bottom of the fourth, with the Indians posting a four-spot on KC pitcher Sidney "I've never won a game against Cleveland" Ponson. Those four runs that inning put the Tribe up 1-6, at which time I wandered away from the radio (computer, really). However, the bullpen did their best to try to spoil Aaron Laffey's seven innings of one-run ball. Laffey did allow seven hits and three walks, but he got like 15 double plays. If you've ever heard of a someone pitching out a of a jam, well that's what Laffey was doing all night, seeing as how you have to have someone on base with one or fewer (zero I guess) outs for a double play and all. Anyway, back to the bullpen's attempt to make this game more exciting. Joe Smith worked 0.0 innings and allowed three earned runs, while Kobayashi logged 0.0 innings and yielded one earned run. So somehow I make it back to the game and it's a one-run affair, which took me time to comprehend. No worries - that catcher of ours is a good hitter and hits a two run home run and this thing is back to being a three-run game in the ninth. The good news is Kerry Wood picked up the save, the bad news is he gave up a two run home run. Either way, the Indians take game one with Peralta, Sizemore (3), and Martinez (2) accounting for all the Indians RBI. Tribe (5-9) win 7-8.

Cliff Lee started the second game of the series and while he went a team season-high eight innings he got no run support. No really, we were shut out. The freshly called-up Royals pitching prospect that is Brian Bannister shut the Indians down, going six innings and allowing only four hits. Journeymen Jamey Wright, he of the eight innings pitched and zero ERA, continued the scoreless parade by keeping the Tribe hitless for two innings. Finally, KC closer Joakim Soria finished us off (and not in a sexual way either) in the ninth. Lee pitched well enough to only allow two runs on nine hits, but not a good game for the Indians. Tribe (5-10) lose 2-0.

Today's rubber match saw the Indians up early, the Royals tie then advance by a run, only for the Indians to comeback and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Anthony Reyes took the mound for his third start - talk about another Indians pitcher getting out of a few tough situations. At one point Reyes had the bases loaded with no one out. The first out came as a shallow fly ball to Crowe in right who made a good throw and the runner didn't even try to score. The second out was a big strike out and the third was a fly out to Ben Francisco in right. Reyes went six and surrendered two runs on four hits. Jensen Lewis came in and pitched two scoreless innings, which allowed the Indians to come back from a 2-1 deficit. Gil Meche pitched well through seven, but then put a few guys on and the Royals went to the pen, at which point Grady hit his sixth home run of the year and collected RBI's 15, 16, and 17. I wonder if teams will at some point stop throwing to our leadoff man? Kerry Wood gets his third save, which I hear are all against the Royals. Tribe (6-10) win 2-5.

I don't want to get into the "Grady shouldn't be leading off" argument, but something has to be said about a leadoff hitter tied for fourth in the majors in RBI. That thing to be said is our 7th, 8th, and 9th hitters have been getting on base. Asdrubal, our guy in the nine hole, has a .431 OBP so I'm happy with that. In other Indians offensive highlights, Victor is hitting .394 and a 1.120 OPS. Speaking of our captain Castrovince had this little insight:

Hitting coach Derek Shelton said he took issue with the way Victor Martinez was criticized for a lack of power in the first half last season. "We knew he was hurt, and he knew he was hurt, but he didn't say anything," Shelton said. So the rest of us didn't know, which is why Martinez's power drought came up in so much conversation.

Seriously, if I don't know the whole story because you're not telling it to me then I can't be criticized for being well, critical. Unfortunately situations like this just spawn the "maybe he's hurt and we don't know it" conversation every time an Indians player is underperforming. What was served by not telling anyone?

The good news is the Indians won a series. We're still 5-5 over the last 10, so don't get too excited. A good series against the Twins this weekend would go a long way to getting some real confidence back in this team. A sobering fact is that a sweep of the Twins does not yet get us to .500.

Game 1: Nick Blackburn, RHP (0-1, 5.71) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (1-2, 7.88)
Game 2: Kevin Slowey, RHP (2-0, 5.89) vs. Carl Pavano, RHP (0-2, 9.69)
Game 3: To be announced vs. Aaron Laffey, LHP (1-0, 2.19)

Let's play a game I like to call, Cleveland Indians best-case scenario. Game one is a no brainer: Carmona has a win Blackburn doesn't, Tribe win. Game two is counter-intuitive to my game one argument. Carl Pavano was lights-out last game and Slowey is a a funny last name, Tribe win again. I don't know who to be announced thinks he is but Laffey's got this one, Tribe sweep the Twins. For all you readers who are anywhere near Ohio right now Sunday's game is on everyone's favorite NBC affiliate WKYC Channel 3.

Go Tribe!
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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