Monday, August 31

Good baseball against bad teams

At the start of this past week, the Tribe found themselves with a better record than just two of their American League competitors, Kansas City and Baltimore. Naturally, they thought, hell, let's take a road trip and play both of them! And so it was, as Cleveland continued their strong post-All-Star-break run of baseball by taking 2 of 3 from the Royals and splitting a 4-game set from the Orioles.

I have no intention of writing a recap for seven games, so I think a brief note on each series and game will suffice.

Kansas City Royals
Only San Diego's -148 run differential is worse than KC's -142, but at least Royal fans can take solace in the fact that the Royals sport neither hideous camouflage nor preposterous all-gold ("sand") uniforms. There's something to be said for dignity, even during your 83rd straight losing season.

Game 1
I was just about ready to pass out at the wheel of my car headed north to Cleveland when Luis Valbuena's three-run blast off of KC closer Joakim Soria in the 8th gave the Tribe a 7-5 lead that they would parlay into a 10-6 opening-game win. Did YOU think Valbuena was going to be this solid this soon? Me neither.

Game 2
Zack Greinke absolutely buzzsawed his way through the Tribe lineup, to the tune of 15 K's in 8 innings, powering the Royals to a 4-2 victory. Andy Marte's gigantic 6th-inning home run was more comic relief than anything. I mean, our whole lineup can't touch this guy and suddenly Marte jacks one 400 feet? Good times.

Game 3
I dunno, we scored 4 runs and they only got 2, so we won the game and the series. Not much exciting here, just a well-played victory. Good thing we waited so long to call up Matt LaPorta.

Baltimore Orioles
My friend Mister X put it best when this game came on: "Hey look, two teams who used to be in Major League Baseball."

Game 1
My second game-winning Tom Hamilton home run call of the week came courtesy of none other than...wait for it...Andy Marte, who seems to have developed some comfortability at the plate as he gets consistent playing time. Trailing 4-3 with two down and nobody on in the top of the 9th, LaPorta singled up the middle and Marte followed him with a home run to left on a 3-2 count. I thought FOR SURE it was going to be one of Hammy's fake warning-track excitement calls, but it was the real deal. A cheap infield hit and a bad call helped Baltimore mount a threat in the 9th, but Kerry Wood got a big K to preserve the 5-4 Tribe win.

Game 2
Bad Fausto and Bad Bullpen both decided to make appearances in Saturday's game, a 13-4 whipping at the hands of the Orioles. Hey, sometimes even mediocre teams playing improbably good baseball get routed.

Game 3
Well, OF COURSE we won another game thanks to a home run by Marte. This time it was a three-run job that put the Tribe up 4-2 after a long, soggy rain delay. Cleveland hung on for a 5-3 win, as Chris Perez collected his first Major League save. I really, really enjoy watching Perez pitch - I've almost totally repressed my memories of Jose Veras.

Game 4
I slept through a lot of this, and, apparently, so did the Indians in a 5-2 loss. Justin Masterson yielded one bad 4-run inning and that was basically the ballgame. Marte and LaPorta each had their 10-game hit streaks snapped.

After the dust settled, the Indians now stand at 58-72. They were, at one point, 36-57, meaning they're enjoying a respectable 22-15 stretch. Importantly, they're doing it with young, exciting players who figure into their plans for the next few years like Valbuena, Perez, Cabrera, Masterson, and LaPorta.

The road trip concludes with a sturdier test, as the Tribe head to Detroit for 3 against the Tigers. I, for one, am intrigued for the MLB debut of Carlos Carrasco on Tuesday. Well, more than I am for Carmona's start, anyway.

Tuesday: RHP Carrasco vs RHP Edwin Jackson (10-6, 2.96)
Wednesday: LHP Aaron Laffey (7-3, 3.40) vs RHP Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.27)
Thursday: RHP Carmona (3-9, 6.20) vs LHP Nate Robertson (1-1, 6.84)

Go Tribe!

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