Thursday, May 28

We're going streaking!

Are you kidding me? This series at home was incredible, mainly because the Indians won. Yes, they won every single game. Four games in a row. All wins. And Tampa Bay now has not won in Cleveland since 2005. Like 17 games in a row have been losses. To our Cleveland Indians, no less. Go Tribe indeed.

Talk about a series I should have written up as the games went along! This was an exhaustive series for any fan. A ten-run deficit comeback win, check. A two-hour rain delay before a game starts that then doesn't end before midnight, check. A mid-game rain delay that lasted for over two hours, check. So excuse me if these are slightly abbreviated summaries of really awesome games.

Game one of this series was a classic for the ages. If you didn't watch it or listen to it you missed the largest comeback against the Rays ever in their history, and the largest comeback by an Indians team since 2001, a game in which they were twice down by 12 runs. Monday's game only saw the Indians down by 10 runs, which ain't so bad. Starter Fausto Carmona only went 1.1 innings, giving up five runs, and was followed by Jensen Lewis, who also gave up five runs in 1.2 innings of work. Luckily the Rays bullpen is about as good as the Indians' pen circa early May 2009. The Indians scored nine runs in the final two frames, and with two outs Victor Martinez hit a two-run single. Ryan Garko also had two home runs and five RBI. Tribe (18-28) win 10-11.

Game two was less exciting, to say the least. Carl Pavano turned in his best performance of the year, and while I once touted Pavano as the best pitcher in the majors with a 6+ ERA, I now have to start comparing him to other actual good pitchers. Pavano went seven innings, giving up just one run on a solo shot to Carlos Pena in the seventh. Otherwise, Pavano only gave up three hits, walked two, and struck out six while lowering his ERA to 5.50. Offensively, the Indians got it done with the long ball. Garko, Asdrubal Cabrera, Mark DeRosa, and Kelly Shoppach all went yard (Garko was on board for DeRosa's shot), which was easily enough offense for Pavano. Amazingly, with a starter going seven innings, all the bullpen needs to do is go two, which doesn't happen often with this rotation. Rafael Betancourt and Kerry Wood pitched scoreless innings and the Indians (19-28) won 1-5 to make it two in a row.

Wednesday's game was delayed two hours by the rain, which means I didn't listen to the whole thing. Zach Jackson got the start and with seven runs allowed in four innings I suspect you won't be seeing him again soon, unless he's sporting a Columbus Clippers uniform. Somehow, the Indians offense kept the team in this one. Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine gave up eight runs in three innings of work, so I guess it was up to the Indians bullpen to wrap this one up. You know what, I would definitely not have guessed that the likes of Greg Aquino and Luis Vizcaino would go on to pitch five scoreless innings. Talk about relief work! After the Jackson implosion, to have two guys hold the Rays scoreless is no short feat. Ben Francisco had four RBI, and loves hitting against Sonnanstine. Tribe (20-28) win 7-12. Three in a row for the first time this year!

Thursday's day game was also rain-delayed as the Indians went for the sweep and to bring their record against the Rays at home in the last 17 games to 17-0. Yeah, the last time the Indians won four in a row against a team it was against the Rays at home last season. While perhaps not as exciting as the Memorial Day Miracle, this game was close the entire time. David Huff pitched four scoreless innings. Yes, coming in with a 17+ ERA and having never pitched in a Major League-level fourth inning, Huff looked good. He was really fooling the Rays hitters with his off-speed stuff, and probably could have gotten the win if it wasn't for the Cleveland weather everyone loves getting in the way. The Indians were only 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, but that was enough today thanks to strong pitching. Offensively, the Indians had seven hits, but Martinez collected two RBI with only one hit, plating the other run with a ground ball. Offensively, it was just one of those days, but the bullpen again came through. Lewis, Matt Herges, Betancourt, and Wood kept the Rays combined for the final five frames, with Lewis allowing the sole Rays run off a solo shot by Willy Aybar (I hate that last name). Herges picked up the win, going 1.2 innings striking out three and only allowing one hit. His ERA is also 1.35 if you were wondering. Tribe(21-28) win 1-2, while Wood gets save number eight.

A four-game winning streak/sweep will make almost any team look good. The Indians still have plenty of question marks, mainly with their starting rotation, but having swept the Rays without a Cliff Lee start is amazing. Monday's come from behind win is hopefully the start of a turnaround for this team. The bullpen only allowed one run over the last three games while pitching 12 innings. Are Herges, Aquino, and Vizcaino for real? I don't know. I suspect they're all getting lucky, but isn't it about time?

This weekend is a wraparound series with the Yankees. I was originally slated to be at a couple of these games in observance of Tribe Weekend. However I will instead placate my baseball urges with a Rockies-Padres match up that guarantees to be a game I care very little about.

Game 1: Andy Pettitte, LHP (4-1, 4.30) vs. Cliff Lee, LHP (2-5, 3.04)
Game 2: C.C. Sabathia, LHP (4-3, 3.42) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (2-4, 6.42)
Game 3: Phil Hughes, RHP (3-2, 5.16) vs. Carl Pavano, RHP (5-4, 5.50)
Game 4: To be announced vs. Jeremy Sowers, LHP (1-2, 7.71)

The fact that the Yankees have a 27-20 record is amazing to me. This team has been pretty hot in May. Did you know Pavano has more wins in May (5) than any Yankee pitcher has all this season? Did you know no other pitcher has five wins in May? The game two matchup of Carmona and C.C. is the obvious weak pairing on this series. I still think we can win this one.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

1 comment:

Andy said...

Nice work, John, and nice work by the Wahoos - that's the first time all year Indians baseball has been exciting! They must have stolen some of the Cavs mojo. A few notes:

- I finally heard fireworks from the ballpark in my apartment! Used to happen a lot last year, not so much this season.

- Monday was tremendous. TB just kept walking guys, and walking guys...

- So did Fausto, as usual.

- Throw out Pavano's opening series disaster, (1 IP, 9 ER), and his ERA is a very solid 4.12.

- I went Wednesday and left once the rains came. Thus far this year, I've gone to three games: twice I left during a rain delay and once they got smacked 7-1. Not good times at the ballpark.

- The strong bullpen work is a pleasant surprise. Herges has been surprisingly good.

- Francisco had 4 HR in 4 straight plate appearances against Sonnanstine, 1 short of the ML record.

- Huff lowered his ERA by more than 7 runs.

- Tribe weekend promises to be splendid, though I hope the Saturday game is a quick victory so we can get back and see the second half of the Cavs.

- I plan to give CC a nice round of applause when he is announced and takes the field. After that, just another Yankee.