The Tribe just finished their west coast road trip and now are facing a critical week. I think I said last week was critical. They are all critical when your team is fighting for a playoff spot and the Tribe IS in the hunt. So lets “Hit it” as Joliet Jake once said.
Ubaldo Jimenez !? Really, Ubaldo leading off in The Good column? Ubaldo has a 1.88 ERA over the last month. Last Saturday in an important game against the Oakland Athletics, Jimenez threw 5.2 innings giving up only one run, on one hit while striking out 8. Oakland is one of the teams the Indians are chasing for a wild card spot, and this was the only game the Tribe won vs Oakland. Jimenez now has a lower ERA (4.00) than Kazmir (4.39).
If you watch a game he pitches you will bite all your nails off. He hasn’t allowed many hits, but he still walks plenty. Ubaldo is 3rd in the league with 70 walks even though he has thrown significantly fewer innings. For comparison, David Price of Tampa Bay has thrown more innings and walked only 19 so far this year! Ubaldo has started 24 games and walked 70 batters, he averages 5 1/3 innings per start. I’ll do the math for ya. That means he walks about 3 batters every game he pitches, or 5 innings. So with hits included basically there are multiple runners on base every inning. Hey this is The Good column so enough of the scare tactics from me. Ubaldo is keeping those runners from scoring, so keep up the good work. The Tribe may just have to consider picking up that option on Ubaldlo for next year.
I’m hoping to head down to the game tonight for fireworks set to the Blues Brothers, and another start from Ubaldo. Hopefully he will continue to “Gimme Some Lovin”, but I will take the finger nail clippers just in case.
The Bad is how you felt the next morning if you stayed up and watched Tuesday nights game vs the Los Angeles Angels. The game ended at 3:30 in the morning after 14 innings. At one point Tribe broadcaster Rick Manning said that ” only insomniacs” were watching. I realized then my wife is right, I may have a problem. I proceeded to watch the post game show that was broadcast live from Cleveland. It ended at 4 AM. I was thinking of calling my friend Paul Longfellow who would have been getting up for work. If not for waking the rest of his family I would have called.
Luckily the Tribe won this game. The real Bad was they only had 5 hits through the first 13 innings. The pitching staff was incredible this game and preserved the win despite the offenses’ troubles.
The Ugly: The Good
There is no Ugly only Good when your team goes on their west coast road trip and finishes above .500. In fact the Indians went 6 – 3 on the west coast trip and 4 – 2 for the week.
Everyone is talking about the wild card spot, but I keep saying the Indians should focus on Detroit. They may not catch them, but they will still be in the wild card chase if they don’t. Detroit had another losing week going 3 – 4. Detroit left town seven games up on the Tribe two weeks ago. Last week they were 6 games up, and after this week they are up 5 games. Detroit plays Oakland four games next week and then start a 3 game home series vs the Tribe. Hopefully by the start of that series next weekend the Tribe will be within 4 games. As long as the Indians take care of their part they will be making up ground on Detroit or Oakland this week. The Tribe has its work cut for them. They face the Atlanta Braves who own the best record in baseball and the best home field record in the major leagues. Next weekend they visit the Tigers followed by a visit from another wild card hopeful, the Baltimore Orioles. A very import next 12 days for the Tribe. After that stretch the games will hopefully be even more important, because that is what each game becomes for playoff hopefuls. No rest for those playoff bound! First things first though. Ubaldo needs to go out and beat the Twins tonight.
It is the Dog Days of Summer, at least that is what they say. It feels more like October. The Tribe is on their very difficult West Coast road trip, and have upcoming games against Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels. 12 of their next 18 games comes against first place teams (Atlanta & Detroit) or teams ahead of them in the wild card standings (Oakland & Baltimore). So the weather outside may not be so hot, but for a team trying to make a playoff push things should be pretty warm.
Here is a look back at the week:
Asdrubal Cabrera gets thrown out of a game. Usually that is not a good thing. Last Sunday the Tribe was riding a 7 game losing streak and they were about to get swept for the second consecutive series in a row at home. Down 5 – 0 in the sixth inning with two outs, the Tribe bats came alive. One of those bats was from Cabrera’s replacement Mike Aviles. Nick Swisher and Aviles both hit two run homers. Cabrera, who has looked awful lately at the plate and in the field, did the Tribe a favor by getting sent to the showers early. By one out in seventh the Indians had the lead and stopped their losing streak.
Yan Gomes continues to push for more playing time. Francona has been working Gomes into the lineup more often. Gomes has responded by not only hitting the cover off the ball (.429 average for the week), but he is also great defensively behind the plate. Gomes has thrown out nearly 50% of would be base stealers.
Thanks for Nothing:
I mentioned last week the Indians only needed to make up one game a week to catch the Tigers. They made up a 1/2 game this week to sit at 6 1/2 games back. Not bad. Unfortunately the Indians only went 3 & 3 this week, the big bad Tigers went 3 & 4. The Tigers leave Cleveland and have a losing week, but the Tribe can only catch up 1/2 game in the standings. Indians must take advantage of their chances if they want to make the playoffs.
Other than Gomes .429, Kipnis .273, Aviles .250, and Brantley .250, the offense was putrid this week. None of the other nine position players batted over .200. That happens when one of the games you play a rookie pitcher (Andrew Albers) making his second start ever throws a 2 hitter with no walks. Uh doesn’t this happen always when Cleveland faces a pitcher for the first time. Even the great 90’s teams had trouble with rookie pitchers. Note to self – Next time Tribe faces pitcher for the first time bet HEAVILY on the other team. That should put an end to that curse.
Mark Reynolds has been released and replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera
Cabrera has been especially weak at the plate for the last month (batting only .175). Asdrubal has not looked good at the plate. He is consistently down in the count and swings at everything. Hence his 3 walks and 20 strikeouts over the last 30 days. Chisenhall has been just as bad as Asdrubal over the last month batting .176 with 1 RBI. Michael Bourn who has had a decent year only batted .212 in the last 30 days. If Bourn doesn’t change his pace his decent year will turn out to an average year. The Indians can ill afford to have numerous players batting under .200 for any length of time. Especially when two of those players are batting lead off and cleanup.
I am trying to find what works for me in this blog. I would like to write just a little more often, but keep the content much shorter. This is a very difficult assignment for me. I have a very hard time putting my ideas down and it can take days for me to finalize my post. I have always struggled with writing, and I never considered myself very good. I appreciate all the comments on the site and those who have told me in person they enjoy the blog. That encourages me to try harder so thank you. So with that said I am going to try and post a weekly recap. Hopefully I can find a rhythm that works for me. Hopefully the Tribe can get back into rhythm soon.
The Tribe locked up Ryan Raburn for two more years with a club option for a third year at a very reasonable salary of roughly 2.5 million. The Indians bench has been one of the strengths this year, and should be for a couple more years hopefully. After trading for Mike Aviles this winter the Indians signed him to a contract extension through 2015, while catcher Yan Gomes is making the league minimum through 2015. The Tribe’s bench gives Francona a lot of options when it comes to roster management during a game. Gomes has been looking superior defensively to Carlos Santana behind the pate, and Rayburn and Aviles can play almost any position if asked. If fact Rayburn pitched in the 9th inning of Thursday nights fiasco against his former team the Detroit Tigers. The bullpen was decimated from the previous nights 14 inning loss and Raburn took one for the team by going out to pitch in a lost cause. Actually he posted a perfect inning and struck out Detroit’s Matt Tuiasosopo.
Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Rayburn owns you!
The Tribe went 2 – 5 for the week. They started out the week playing the lowly Miami Marlins. After getting beat down 10 – 0 on Friday the Tribe won the next two to take the series from Miami. The Indians then came home to start a four game series against the 1st place Detroit Tigers. BIG SERIES…. Big Let Down. I could of put this in the Ugly column but lets not panic. Yea the Tigers have a good team. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Tori Hunter, Victor Martinez, not to mention a CY Young pitching staff. They own the Indians this year. They do have problems with the rest of the league. I am not saying that the Indians will win this division, but I don’t see why they can’t stay close to Detroit. The Tigers are not good defensively and if they don’t hit extra base hits they move base to base. They are the slowest team I believe I ever saw. Fans use to think Travis Hafner was slow, but he really wasn’t that bad. Victor Martinez on the other hand couldn’t out run my friend JJ. And for those of you who know JJ that’s slow. Prince Fielder makes Miguel Cabrera look small and Cabrera is a fat ass! The point being the Tigers are not perfect and they do lose quite regularly to everyone but the Indians. If you take away the games between the two teams the Tigers record would be 55 – 42 while the Tribe would be 59 – 40. They play 3 more games against each other in Detroit, so the Indians could theoretically make up ground over Labor Day weekend, and there is 7 weeks of baseball left. That is one game a week. Don’t forget that on June 11th the Tribe was 5 1/2 games behind Detroit, but by June 30th was in 1st place. I don’t think the Tribe wins the division, possible but not probable. I do think if they keep chasing Detroit ultimately they will be in good position to win a wild card spot. I don’t see this group of players quitting on Francona.
I was talking to my friend John at Thursday nights game. He thought the Tribe should get into a fight with Detroit. The way that Detroit has pushed us around lately I am starting to think that’s not a bad idea. The Indians might want to get physical with the Tigers just to let them know they are not intimidated by them. I don’t see Francona going there, but by that last game in Detroit if the scenario hasn’t changed… I would throw down.
Corey Kluber has been one of the biggest surprises this year for the Tribe. Kluber came out in the first game against Detroit and pitched 7 1/3 innings of shut out baseball. He should of won that game if not for a melt down by Chris Perez in the ninth. I am glad Perez is not talking to the media. What do you want to hear him say after that mess. Just shut up and go do your job, I don’t need to hear any excuses. Any way Kluber was fantastic. He comes to the game the next day complaining his middle finger hurts. Now he is on the DL for 6 to 8 weeks. For a team that needs things to go their way this was a major blow. Danny Salazar has looked impressive so far but it still can’t be good when you lose one of your best pitchers. Last night Scott Kazmir left the game early and I am not sure why. I was hoping the Tribe would sign Kazmir next to a new contract. Hopefully this is only a minor setback and nothing serious, because the Indians are not in a position to lose starting pitchers in a playoff race.
Ok one week down, a .500 road trip vs. the American League East and they beat the two reigning Cy Young winners. Not to shabby. You can see they are starting to come together, forming a bond, becoming a team. Swisher is vocal and high fiving everyone. When someone hits a home run they form a tunnel in the dugout with their hands held high that the player goes through.
The Tribe is having some fun together.
Here is a Recap of the Week:
Game 1 vs. Toronto:
Ahh Not Again!
I know it is a long season and Masterson did pitch well after the 3rd inning, but those first three innings were torturous. It was last season all over again. 1st inning Masterson walks the first batter, gives up a single and then hits a batter. 2nd inning he issues a walk to a batter and then gives up a double. The 3rd inning Masterson gives up a lead off single which turns into a double on an error, followed by two more walks. Three innings – 4 walks, 2 singles, 1 double, 1 error, and 1 hit batter. Uggh! Luckily Masterson can get hitters to put the ball on the ground and he got two double plays, thus only giving up one run.
What is worse than Masterson’s line?
Masterson settled down and only gave up that one run. R.A Dickey a knuckle ball pitcher had this line – 6.0 innings pitched with 5 hits, 4 base on balls, 1 wild pitch and 3 passed balls (accredited to the catcher J.P. Arecibia for not catching the ball – happens with a knuckleballer).
Just as planned
5th inning: Michael Bourn singles and is at first. R.A Dickey tries to throw a fastball by B.A. (Bad Ass) Cabrera. He promptly knocks it out of the park. Tribe wins 4 -1.
Game 2 vs. Toronto:
Knew this was coming:
Toronto pitcher Brandon Morrow had 8 strikeouts through the first four innings. It looked to be a long evening for the Tribe hitters. They only had three strikeouts for the rest of the game and Mark Reynolds hit his first home run as a member of the Indians in the 11th inning to win the game.
I was hoping to see this coming but didn’t expect it:
Jimenez throws six innings giving up only 3 hits and 2 base on balls, while striking out six.
Game 3 vs. Toronto:
For God’s Sake Someone Wake up Tito and Tell Him to Take OUT the Pitcher!
Every year there is at least one player that fans rally around to become their whipping boy. Jason Michaels and David Dellucci to name just a few. Brett Myers made his debut in a Tribe uniform and he may have jumped to the head of the list for this year’s hate list. 5.0 innings and seven earned runs, all coming from the 4 home runs he allowed. Cody Allen promptly relieved Myers and gave up his own home run. Matt Albers comes in the next inning and walks two and gives up a run without giving up a hit. All three struggled this spring. Francona was asked in spring training when he would become worried about Myers struggles. He said ask him in June. Someone better ask him on May 1st.
The Tribe was short two players on the roster due to them trying to get Kazmir on the roster (instead he went to the DL) and letting Carrasco serve his suspension. They could have used the extra arm in the bullpen for this game, they lost 10 -8. Tribe hitters had 2 home runs and 6 doubles along with 6 more hits. Good sign that they never let up and kept coming back. Only a couple of outstanding plays and lucky breaks for Toronto kept the Tribe from winning.
Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching, – ?,?,?
Trevor Bauer made his Tribe debut. He was called up to replace Kazmir who was placed on the DL. He only gave up 3 runs in 5.0 innings, not horrible. Unfortunately he struggled through all five innings. The first inning he walked the first three batters to load the bases and completes the ineptitude by walking in a run with the next batter. He only gave up two hits but who is swinging at the ball when you walk 7 in 5.0 innings. Albers and Allen made appearances again, and again gave up runs. Move over Myers, Albers and Allen would like to join you on the “who do Cleveland fans dislike list”.
Game 6 vs. Tampa Bay
For the second time in two games Justin Masterson beats last year’s Cy Young winner. This time he out pitches David Price. Masterson pitched a great game giving up only 2 hits in 7.0 innings and striking out 8. The Tribe offense took care of Price. The Indians hit 5 home runs and 5 doubles scoring 13 runs. After getting shutout 2 games in a row the offense made a statement. Mark Reynolds had two of the home runs and has four in the first 6 games. Santana went 5 for 5 and is batting .500 on the year. Bring that offense home, I want to see it!
What would be more fun than beating the Yankee’s who come to Cleveland for the Tribe’s first home stand. Let’s go Tribe, keep me smiling!
My new favorite Tribe player.
Please let this player make it to the big leagues with his mustache intact. Berger is a left handed pitcher who spent the majority of the season in AA Akron. He moved up to AAA Columbus at the end of the year, so a possible promotion to the show could be close (maybe by the end of the year). Lets just hope he doesn’t shave.