Friday, July 24

Wait, did we just win a series?

Without me even paying too much attention, the Indians went out and won a series. On the road, even! Against a .500 team! The real surprise was that both wins were one-run games. One was even a come-from-behind victory. Too bad no one is really going to notice.

The Tribe and the Blue Jays opened a three -ame set at the Rogers Center in Toronto Tuesday with our pitching savior Cliff Lee facing off against Brett Cecil (3-1). The Cleveland offense had been asleep for a few games and this game was no different. Luckily for the Tribe, Lee was pitching well. His only big mistake was allowing a solo shot by Scott Rolen, who is having a pretty decent season with a .849 OPS, in the seventh. As far as the Indians offense: all you need to know is what took place in the top of the ninth. Ryan Garko pinch-hit for Kelly Shoppach and proceeded to get an infield single. Yes, Ryan Garko legged out an infield single. Garko is so quick that he was immediately pinch run for by Luis Valbuena. Next up, Grady Sizemore attempted a sac bunt, Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay threw to second to get Valbuena, but his throw was off and continued into the outfield. Valbuena ended up at third with Grady on second with zero outs. The Blue Jays intentionally walked Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases, at which point Shin-Soo Choo grounded into a fielders choice that went to home plate for the force out.

At this point in our story, Victor Martinez strides to the plate, having gotten a hit in only 9 of his last 83 at bats. The first pitch is hit foul and the second one is in there for a called strike. Victor is down two strikes and hits a double into left field. Both Sizemore and Cabrera score and we have two on with only one out having taken the lead 2-1. Hafner strikes out swinging, Peralta walks to load the bases again with two outs, and then Ben Francisco grounds into a fielder's choice. Inning over, but what an inning.

So you're Eric Wedge. You have Cliff Lee on the mound with a one-run lead in the ninth. Do you send him back out there, or bring in your $20 million dollar reliever with Toronto hitters Vernon Wells, Rolen, and Overbay, the number three, four, and five hitters coming to the plate? Well, you let Cliff pitch the ninth and he goes one, two, three. Tribe (37-57) win 2-1.

Wednesday's game was less fun, thanks to a seven-run effort by Carl Pavano in 4.2 innings followed by Jose Veras' 1.1 innings which plated three more Blue Jays. Offensively the Indians put up a heroic effort helped by a three-run home run by Valbuena, but it wasn't enough with the Indians first two pitchers spotting the Blue Jays 10 runs. Indians (37-58) lose 6-10.

Thursday's game was exciting too, but I won't go into as much detail. David Huff, who seems to alternate good and bad starts, went 7.2 innings and allowed four runs (which is good I guess). The Blue Jays pitchers, on the other hand only allowed two earned runs. However, thanks to two Toronto errors, the Indians tallied 5 runs and Kerry Wood picked up his 13th save of the season. Tribe (38-58) win 5-4.

The big news this week, besides these amazing victories, was the trade of Rafael Betancourt to the Colorado Rockies. In return the Indians got relief pitching prospect Connor Graham. In every article on Graham I've read it mentions how he is 6-6 235 lbs. Yes, he is a big guy who throws in the low to mid 90's. Control has been an issue which shouldn't be surprising for a guy who has only pitched in high-A ball. The Indians are sending him to AA Akron. The real reason the Indians made this trade was they thought that Betancourt's 2010 option of $5.4 million wasn't looking like it was going to happen and they felt their return was worth more than what they were giving up. Relief pitching prospects are scarce in the Indians system, in case you didn't know. Senor Slo-Mo will be missed.

Word around the internets seems to speculate that neither Lee or Martinez are likely to be moved. The asking price is simply too high for either. The post-steroid era seems to skew performance back to the under 30 crowd, so teams must be considerate of how valuable a cheaper, young, and maybe better player is.

The Indians take on Seattle again this weekend, beginning a six-game West Coast trip. Hopefully the results against Seattle are a little better this time around.

Game 1: Aaron Laffey, LHP (3-2, 4.27) vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP (0-0, 0.00)
Game 2: Jeremy Sowers, LHP (2-7, 5.77) vs. Erik Bedard, LHP (5-2, 2.70)
Game 3: Cliff Lee, LHP (6-9, 3.17) vs. To be announced

For the record, Ryan Rowland Hyphen Smith is a lefty who has never faced the Indians. I'm leery of any lefty call-up against the Indians based solely on their history against them, despite the fact I know history doesn't mean much of anything. Jeremy Sowers gets another shot to show everyone how he's a AAA pitcher. I don't remember seeing half this many TBA pitchers last year. If the Indians can set some semblance of a rotation I suspect most teams should be able to as well.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

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