Tuesday, June 2

At least they're not coming back this year

The Lake Erie midges made their annual appearance in the City of Cleveland this week, and so did the New York Yankees. Neither was particularly welcome, and I'm glad the Yankees' supporters are going back to their caves for another year. The Indians lost 3 out of 4 in a pretty uninspiring series, but here I am to recap anyway.

Friday's game was pretty blah start to finish, ending in a 3-1 win for the visiting Yankees. Andy Pettite was the story, holding the Tribe to 1 run over 5 innings before being lifted due to injury. Cliff Lee pitched well also, but yielded 3 runs in his 6-inning stint. Solid start, not good, not great, but not enough to beat Pettite and the Yanks this evening. Lee now sports a very strong 3.16 ERA but an ugly hard-luck 2-6 record to go with it. Both bullpens were effective this evening; Matt Herges (2 IP) and Rafael PĂ©rez (!) (1 IP) held the visitors scoreless on just one hit and a walk. The New York 'pen was up to the challenge, as Alfredo Aceves (3 IP) and Mariano Rivera (1 IP) each allowed a hit and kept the Tribe from even coming close to rallying. New York got 2 runs in the 2nd and a tally in the 3rd, pushing runs across with a single, groundout, and sac fly, while a Shin-Soo Choo sac fly plated Mark DeRosa in the 6th for Cleveland's only run. Asdrubal Cabrera and Ben Francisco each collected 2 hits, but that was about it for the Tribe's weak attack. Like I said, blah.

Saturday's game was supposed to be the first of FCF's annual Tribe Weekend, but about 500 things went wrong, including the demise of the Cavs and the aforementioned midges infesting my downtown apartment. Yeah. If my Saturday was a baseball game, I would have been handed a lot bigger beating than the 10-5 drubbing the Tribe absorbed from CC Sabathia and the Yankees. I left after 6 innings in a damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don't situation. I gave CC some cheers when he came out, but then it was back to business, and my business is despising New York's American League franchise.

CC was his usual self, ho-hitting the Tribe through 4 and giving up just 3 runs over 7 innings to collect the win. Fausto Carmona, unfortunately, was also his usual self (ERA=6.60), giving up 7 runs (4 earned) in just 4 innings of work to drop his record to 2-6. Like everything else that night, this game was exceedingly frustrating. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd on home runs by Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada. Two Indians errors in the 5th (Ryan Garko and Choo) and a questionable call at 2nd base opened the door for three Yankee singles plating 5 runs for an insurmountable 7-0 lead.

The Indians finally got to CC in the 5th, cutting the defecit to 7-2 on RBI singles from Garko and Jamey Carroll, but they would get no closer. Grady Sizemore, playing his last game for possibly quite some time, hit a solo shot in the 6th, Choo (the only Tribesman with more than one hit) added a longball in the 9th, and Ben Francisco (who's been playing well of late) knocked in the Indians' 5th run with a double, but some Yankee cheating along the way meant they already had 10 by then, providing the final 10-5 margin. Yuck.

Sunday - now that's Tribe Weekend! Johnny Peralta's RBI "single" scored Trevor Crowe for the second time on the afternoon (Peralta had 3 hits and 3 RsBI) in the 9th to give Cleveland a 5-4 walkoff win. Carl Pavano continued his string of strong starts, going 7 and allowing just 3 runs. Were it not for some bullpen shenanigans (Rafael Betancourt faced one batter and was injured while Herges allowed the game-tying hit) Pavano might have claimed yet another victory. I never got tired of wondering loudly if Pavano ever played for the Yankees as he repeatedly set them down. Good times, which were sorely needed in the face of so much Yankee fan stupidity. Ugh.

Mark Teixeira was a one-man gang for the Yankees, driving in all 4 New York runs with a 2-run home run in the 6th and 2-run double in the 8th. The latter wasted a fine outing from Pavano, but Herges settled down to get a double-play ball from Jorge Posada to end the Yankees' 8th-inning threat. The Tribe 9th started with a Trevor Crowe walk, after which the Indians wasted an out from one of their best hitters, Cabrera (who already had 2 hits and 2 runs on the afternoon) via sac bunt. Francisco walked, and Peralta ended the game by driving a hard grounder down the third-base line and past a lame dive from Alex Rodriguez.

This game was a total bonanza for the FCF team, lifting us from the basement of our league. Kerry Wood's 9th-inning work netted a W, while Peralta and Texeira's big days propped up our offensive output.

Monday's pitching matchup looked to strongly favor the vistors, with Joba Chamberlain facing Jeremy Sowers and all the midges (at least the ones in my apartment) dead, and New York did indeed win, 5-2. Chamberlain held up his end of the bargain, alowing just two runs (a Victor Martinez home run and a Shin-Soo Choo single and station-to-station march around the bases), but Sowers matched him with 5 scoreless innings. He left a 1-1 game in the 6th after loading the bases on 3 straight walks, but Greg Aquino bailed him out and preserved the tie. That wouldn't last long, as New York exploited Aquino's own wildness problems in the 7th and broke the game open with a 4-run inning sparked by Nick Swisher's bases-loaded 2-run double. The Tribe and Choo cut it to the final margin but otherwise never threatened in a rather tame loss to fall to 22-31 and even farther into last place in the AL Central.

Notwithstanding some tough results against the AL East leaders, the Indians have been playing more consistently competitive baseball of late, which of course means it's time for the injury bug to bite the poor Lake Erie Warriors. Betancourt and Sizemore are now on the DL, leaving the Indians with just two relievers who've ben with the club all year and without their best player (when healthy). Victor Martinez' injury doen't appear to be serious, evidenced by his home run last night, but our depth is really being tested here. Add these losses to the injuries suffered by Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes a week ago and Travis Hafner's continued absence, and we're looking pretty AAAA these days. Let's hope the youngsters can come through on this upcoming 6-game roadie starting with three in the abomination that is the Metrodome.

Tuesday: L David Huff (0-1, 10.97) vs R Kevin Slowey (7-1, 4.11)
Wednesday: L Cliff Lee (2-6, 3.16) vs R Anthony Swarzak (1-1, 2.08)
Thursday: R Fausto Carmona (2-5, 6.60) vs R Scott Baker (2-6, 6.32)

Go Tribe!

Excellent photo by Tony Dejak/AP

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