4.30.2010

Offense, Game Winning Bunts, and the Most Hated Franchise

I'm going to wrap up the past few days in news up in this post here rather than the usual notes and quotes.

I have a lot of links from outside the usual that I've built up that I need to talk about.

But the semester is practically over, I survived 10-page papers, group presentations and all that fun stuff this week. I do have two exams next week, but for now, I'm unwinding the best way I know how to, catching up on the latest miseries with the Cleveland Indians.

That was a rough series, yet again, because they very well could have won yet another two games.

I think if you said 9-12 at this point in the season with one game left in April, most fans would be surprised they're that close to .500 and in a way I might have been as well.

But 9-12, the way we've seen it unfold feels like it should be better.

I have a whole list of things I need to touch up on, so I'm just going to tackle them as I see fit.

[GRADY SIZEMORE: OFFENSIVE SLUMP, IS HE DONE, AND TRADING HIM]

Big topic right here... First off I saw this post here on a site I've contributed to over the past few months, hotstove.com. Now this is purely speculation on the writers part, who I can only assume is a close follower of the Giants. He suggest Grady Sizemore would be someone the Giants not only need, but could swing a deal for.

This broaches another topic... The want to trade Sizemore by some people and the idea that he will be traded by others. Count me in neither camp.

Sizemore is not only not going anywhere, he shouldn't. Is he done? Some people seem to think he's not going to be the same player he was years ago. I find that hard to believe. He's in a slump people, let him go. Just about everyone on the team is in a slump or has gone through one this month. Give it some time. Yes we didn't get off to the April start we wanted, but this team has played and looked a lot better than I think we all expected and they've looked and played a lot better in the month of April than they have in the past.

Anyway in that post I linked, the writer suggests that the Indians would desire pitching and if you are dealing with the Giants, I actually would expect pitching, and lots of it, or a lot of talent from it. I'm not sure the Indians aren't done piling up the arms, but I do think they feel a lot better about their depth than they did a year ago at this time.

If a deal of this magnitude would be swung, first off Sizemore's value is lower than you would want it to be right now, so you better damn well wait, I'd expect Madison Bumgarner WOULD need to be in the deal, and that is just a starting point. The writer starts there.Am I expecting too much? I don't think so. Bumgarner is their second best prospect. A year and a half of Cliff Lee garnered plenty of top prospects from Philadelphia, I'd expect Bumgarner and another top prospect would be a good starting point.

But let's not discuss a trade, because it won't happen. I'm simply trying to establish Sizemore's value, which is not as high as you'd like, but still pretty damn high, which is why you REMAIN CALM DAMNIT. Remain calm! Things will turn around for Sizemore at the plate.


[THE MOST HATED TEAM EVER]

Well not ever... But speaking of remaining calm.... Wow did you see this?

I have a lot of opinion on this... I think this is mainly because we as a fan base are so... negative. I mean this thing basically tracks the internet and the reactions, positive and negative, that a club has. You've seen Facebook Reactions on this blog before, you know exactly what type of negativity has been swirling around this team the past year.

But I've already done the work on this, and you can read the entire article here.

On a side note of small-market...ness? Great article by Joe Christensen in the Star Tribune about the Twins and Indians and how Minnesota based Target Field off what is now Progressive Field. The way you look at it now, you can honestly see the parallels between the 90's Indians and the current Twins. There is some magic there and there has been for some years and the move to a new park is just a little bit more. You get a core like they have, a superstar like they have, the winning they've been doing. Yeah... They're just "it" right now.

[CHRIS PEREZ ASKS YOU NOT TO BUNT, SUCKER]

"It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out," Perez said afterward. "I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt." 

While I love Chris Perez.... C FN P is acting a little too much like K FN P over this bunt situation that lost the game on Wednesday.

You got beat man. No you personally, but the team. Just tip your cap and move on. Was it tough to lose that way? Yeah but it is hardly a bush league play. Kevin Kaduk of one my favorite blogs, Big League Stew, put it best.

"Uh, not only did it work, it won the game for the Angels. And the victory will count the same in the standings as a win that would have been gained by Kendrick putting a Perez pitch in the gap"

He's right... The win counts just the same and it goes as a hit. The boxscore doesn't recognize it as any less of a hit as if he would have clubbed one. He knew Perez was going to throw a strike from the get-go and Roenicke and the Angels out-thought the Indians to win that. Nothing more you can do.

I love the fire in Perez though. I like having a real spit-talker in the back of the bullpen. It is a reason I'm a fan of his hair... BECOME A FAN OF HIS HAIR DAMNIT.

[HANFER, LAPORTA, PERALTA, and MARSON]

Travis Hafner: He's sat the last two games against left-handed hitters. Am I the only one that doesn't see things going as bad as some are making it out to be. Up until recently he was on-base of every game. Is he struggling against the left-handers? He's struggling to hit period, so yeah. But that shift is really doing him in right now. He's hit the ball hard in instances. Is he driving it? No not like he was earlier. Is he taking good rips? Not as good as he was earlier.

But he doesn't look lost at the plate. One thing that does bug me is how he has been letting a lot of first-pitch strikes go in unattended to. He needs to take more first-pitch swings. I know that isn't his game and he is more of a selective hitter who likes to work the count.

But a majority of the first pitches he's been seeing, from what I've noticed, have come on the first pitch and they've been real hittable.

Matt LaPorta: I stripped him of the Matola nickname until further notice due to his struggles. He's been atrocious at the plate this year and there may be rumblings going around that he may not be all that healthy, but who knows. It wasn't until Tuesday where he got his first hit against a left-handed pitcher (actually got two, was 0-for-18 on the season) and he's been horrible in RBI situations. With 17 at-bats he's had just one RBI. He's truck out twice in three chances with runners at third and less than two outs.Those are rally killers.

The two hits against Saunders were a start, but he needs to buckle down. I think he needs to play at the major league level and a call down to Columbus would be pointless. He has to do it against major league pitching. So if he is hurt, fine, put him on the DL, but don't send him down to Triple-A. He has to figure it out up here. His defense has been good so that is no excuse either.

Jhonny Peralta: Say what you want but lately, Peralta has been hitting a little better. He's also been walking. Did you know he's second on this club in walks? He's also got as many walks as strikeouts (14). Holy! He's getting on base, which is a good thing and his average still sucks, but maybe he's turning it around a little.

Lou Marson: I announced over twitter that I would not shave until Lou Marson had a multi-hit game. That lasted one game and it was only because he didn't even play Monday. He was in there Tuesday with two hits and then did it again on Wednesday. So now I've decided I won't shave until he goes hitless. Marson has gone from under the .100 mark to .171 in just two games, which is pretty good... That average is still bad, but he's picking it up a little more. Had two doubles, one that was as close as you can get to being a home run without being a home run, so maybe he's coming around. The beard is still in tact (technically haven't shaved since last Wednesday) and will remain until Marson does not hit in a game he starts. He won't be starting tonight with Carmona pitching.

Manny Acta stood by his catcher again, saying there is no time table for Carlos Santana and that Lou Marson needs a legit chance. Until Tuesday, Marson had three hits, three walks and scored just one run. I don't think he had been past first base all that much, the past two games, he's done it plenty.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Speaking of Fausto Carmona. Anthony Castrovince has a nice long piece up about Carmona and his new demeanor. One thing I didn't assume was Carmona as a shy individual. Usually when you see the dugout, he's always jumping around laughing and he's constantly toying with teammates.

"He's very shy," Tribe manager Manny Acta said. "He doesn't say much. He keeps to himself and keeps his headphones on."

"He's got an office phobia," Acta said. "I learned that right away. He doesn't like to be in offices. You're not going to pull him over by the batting cage and talk. He's a very respectful guy, but he keeps his distance. You try to get close to him, but he's not the easiest guy to engage in long conversations." 

Office phobia? Well thank god Michael Scott is not his boss...

His boss has kind of been Mike Redmond, who has bee instrumental in Fausto's turnaround began planning on how to let Fausto pitch long before he was signed.

"Even though I didn't get any hits off him, he actually did me some favors by the way he pitched me," Redmond remembered. "As I was facing him, I was always in the back of my mind going, 'This guy doesn't need to do all that stuff. He doesn't need to throw me changeups. He's giving me a chance by throwing me those pitches. If I ever caught him, I'd use him differently.'" 

You know, that t-shirt that was given to Masa Kobayashi a few years ago that said he was "Big in Japan." Yeah that wasn't really meant for him and I'm sure Kobayashi got the joke. But Shin-Soo Choo is HUGE in Korea, and that isn't meant to be a sick joke.

Choo wants to play everyday and because of his presence he was able to avoid a scheduled day off in Oakland. Then the media was out to see Choo for the Angels series.

The Angels credentialed 10 Korean journalists for the series, and they all wanted some of Choo's time before and after games. Acta said Choo handles such demands well, and he's also impressed with the way Choo dedicated himself to improve his English so that he can communicate with the local media, as well. 

Angels skipper Mike Scioscia said the Indians have a good one in Tim Belcher. The former catcher was teammates with Belcher with the Dodgers for four years, so they know each other very well.

I was disappointed with the way Jake Westbrook finished that game on Wednesday, but he certainly was the Jake of old for the first five innings. Starting to feel for the guy as he has not won a game in two years now. You have to believe the pressure is starting to grow on him to finally break through.

"I'm tired of being part of the problem," Westbrook said. "I feel good about where I am [physically]. I'm just not getting the job done. Hopefully I can find a way to put up zeroes when we need them, not like in the sixth inning there." 

Is he just running out of steam at the end of these starts? Is it Paul Byrd syndrome? Acta said his velocity was still there in the sixth and he didn't stay with him too long. Judging by the fact he got the outs he needed after the HR, I'd say he made a mistake this time around. Acta said no one is here to pitch just five innings, he has to deeper and the club is probably doing him more favors in the long run by pushing him this far.

The offense as a whole.... Terry Pluto hasn't lost the faith that they'll still hit.. Neither have I.. Austin Kearns will not be carrying this team too much longer. It has to turn sometime here and maybe May will do it.

Minor Issues: Catching up with roster moves and debuts

What's the News?
Rough news for Scott Lewis. He has been having a good year in Columbus and Wednesday he was placed on the disabled list with soreness in his elbow. Tony Lastoria had just posted a piece on him the same day on IPI. Tough luck for Scotty, he's a good kid.

Lewis will be replaced by Jeremy Sowers on the roster (sort of), but it looks as if Josh Tomlin will be starting for now. He went on Wednesday in Lewis' place and won after going five very strong innings. Jeremy Sowers pitched in a relief role for the first time all season and went two scoreless with just two walks.

The Clippers also activated Jordan Brown off the disabled list, yay! Damaso Espino was temporarily assigned to Mahoning Valley to make room for Brown who played last night. Espino should be back on the roster soon enough, but Gimenez is the backup Catcher for now. Things will go a little slow for Brown for awhile as you can assume, but he DHed last night.

Luis Rodriguez is no longer with the Cleveland Indians organization and he will actually just switch dugouts. He was "with" Columbus or at least he is believed to have been, but he wasn't on the active roster. He is now with the White Sox and has been assigned to Charlotte.

The Aeros needed room for Eric Berger and it was assumed Justin Germano would get tossed out to do so. But Connor Graham is actually the man out due to finger injury. Graham was placed on the disabled list. Kinston also received one of their injured pitchers, Alexander Perez and to make room T.J. House was assigned to Lake County. House shouldn't be going to the Captains and we can only assume that right now it is a paper move, but you never know.

COLUMBUS

After a Carlos Carrasco got off to a rough start, the Clippers rallied to win their third straight game over Charlotte, 9-7.

Carrasco gave up four earned, six total in four innings of work. He walked four and struck out just two. Jess Todd pitched two scoreless innings of work to pick up his first win of the year and Frank Herrmann closed the door in the ninth to pick up save number two.

Wes Hodges and Shelley Duncan hit solo home runs and Carlos Santana and Brian Bixler knocked in runs as well. The big blow came from Chris Gimenez in the 4th inning as he hit a three run shot. He loves being televised doesn't he?

The return of Jordan Brown was good, he got ah it and scored a run in four at-bats. He was just DHing and I'm sure they'll have to work him into full-time outfield mode over the next week or two.

Jason Donald Update: Kid has been hot and we haven't updated this in a while so take a look at what he's been up to. He had a four hit game on Tuesday where he homered and knocked in three runs and stole a base. He doubled last night and had a two hit game on Wednesday. He's now batting .333 on the year with 16 runs scored and 13 batted in.

Michael Brantley Update: Brantley is doing well in Columbus. He didn't play Wednesday but he has three straight mutli-hit games and just two strikeouts since being sent down to Triple-A compared to four walks. He's scored a run per game for the Clippers and is hitting .306 with a .375 on-base percentage.

Hector Rondon looks to complete the sweep for the Clippers on Friday as they take on Charlotte to end April.

AKRON

Akron had the night off on Thursday, and they've only played two games due to rain this week so far. They lost both to Altoona who is now 5-0 over Akron this season.

Needs to be noted that Eric Berger started this week and he went just 2.2 innings giving up 5 earned. It was his 2010 debut and not only did he walk four, he was probably on a pitch count.

Akron is back home on Friday to open up a three game set against Binghamton. Scott Barnes should be on the mound.

KINSTON

Kinston dropped a three game set to Lynchburg this week, winning the middle game, but losing last night.

Another debut was made and this was Alexander Perez making his first start of 2010. He went three innings and gave up two runs off four hits and a walk. He took the loss and Joey Mahalic gave up three earned, four total in 3.2 innings of work. 

The offense came pretty much from one guy, Roman Pena who is hitting just .135. Pena doubled and tripled and knocked in five runs in the process. 

The K-Tribe go on the road to Salem to open up a span where they will play 11 of their next 14 games on the road. Kelvin De La Cruz pitches for Kinston.

LAKE COUNTY

Nothing much has changed here, after dropping the opener to Dayton the Captains have won the last two games 4-1.Trey Haley picked up his first win of the year in the contest by going 7 very strong innings.

This is the kind of production the Indians have been waiting for in Haley. Seven innings of work, just one run off two hits. He did walk three, but when you go seven, it is quite alright.

Cory Burns picked up save number six with a scoreless ninth and two more strikeouts.

Slammin' Bo Greenwell was at it again with two walks, one hit, a stolen base, a run and a RBI and he is still hitting .400.

Chris Kersten had two hits including his second home run of the year. Roberto Perez also knocked in a run.

The Captains now hit the road to take on Great Lakes. Joe Gardner pitches for the Caps.

4.28.2010

Series #7: @ Los Angeles 4/26-4/28

Cleveland Indians @ Los Angeles Angels
April 26th - April 28th: 3 Game Series
Monday - 10:05 PM* / Tuesday 10:05 PM* / Wednesday - 7:05 PM*
*-STO #-ESPN/ESPN2 %-Fox $-MLBNetwork

The Scene
Cleveland (8-10) -  Los Angeles (10-10)
Standings: 3rd AL Central (4.5 GB)
Streak: Lost 1
Oakland: Won 1

The Latest

4/26: Tough beating on Sunday, but the club is in Anaheim and David Huff is in his home area. This is a big start for Huffy with many friends and family likely in attendance.

4/27: The Indians continue to be one of the worst offensive teams in the entire majors. They're one of the better pitching and defensive teams but the offense is struggling.

4/28: The offense stepped up last night to support Mitch Talbot as he picked up yet another win. The Indians have yet another chance to win a series here on the road, lets see if they can come through this time. Ervin Santana is on the mound and he has never beat the Indians.

Random Notes: Despite our woefulness about the bullpen, they had actually the least amount of inherited runners scored in the entire game going into Sunday's game. For the Indians it's always good to see Ervin Santana on the mound when they face the Angels. He hasn't won a game against the club in his entire career and every time the Indians find a way to beat him down pretty good. Let's hope that continues this year. Kerry Wood is still not where he or the club want him to be, so he'll throw another session on Wednesday before the club travels home. I think at that point it will be easier to figure out of he's going to rehab or not.

Tribe Injuries
Hector Ambriz (DL)
Kerry Wood (DL)
Anthony Reyes (60DL)

Game 1
David Huff Vs Jered Weaver
MLB.com Preview
Indians Vs Weaver
Weaver: 2-1, 8 GS, 4.17 ERA
@ Los Angeles: 28-12, 56 GS, 3.25 ERA
Sizemore: 6/20, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K
Hafner: 1/15, 3 BB, 3 K
Peralta: 6/17, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K
Choo: 7/16, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Cabrera: 3/13, 2 RBI, 3 K


Angels Vs Huff
Huff: 0-1, 1 GS, 6.43 ERA
@ Los Angeles: 0-1, 1 GS, 6.43 ERA
Abreu: 1/2, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Aybar: 2/4, 1 RBI
Kendrick: 0/3
Morales: 1/3
Napoli: 1/2

Recap
CLE 2 | LAA 5
W -Jered Weaver
L -David Huff (1-3)
5.1 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K
S - Brian Fuentes


Well that was suck...

I went to bed after the first few innings, knowing full-well this team wasn't coming back. Yeah it was 3-1, but this club wasn't getting another run off Weaver, maybe they'd get another off the pen, but I'm sure we'd give up a few runs.

That is pretty much what happened. I mean this is basically the Austin Kearns and Shin-Soo Choo show. Kearns has been amazing, three more hits last night and a solo home run. It is going to be tough to keep him out of the lineup, especially with LaPorta struggling like he is.

Despite his three strikeouts, Peralta also had a decent night with two hits and a two-out RBI. So that's a positive... But it is going to take more than just Peralta busting out his early season rut.

David Huff was, just not there tonight. He only walked one but gave up 12 hits, 12 hits! He was bad from the get-go giving up the solo home run and then got hit again late before he exited with the Bobby Abreu home run.

What are you going to do?

I don't know....


[BOXSCORE]

Game 2
Mitch Talbot Vs Joe Saunders
Indians Vs Saunders
Saunders: 2-0, 5 GS, 2.84
@ Los Angeles: 23-15, 55 GS, 4.63 ERA
Peralta: 6/15, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
Sizemore: 3/12, 1 BB, 4 K
Hafner: 0/7, 2 BB, 3 K
Branyan: 0/3, 2 BB, 1 K
Redmond: 2/5, 1 RBI


Angels Vs Talbot
Talbot: Has never faced Los Angeles
@ Los Angeles: Has never pitched in Los Angeles
Has never pitched against anyone on Los Angeles

Recap
CLE 9 | LAA 2
W - Mitch Talbot (3-1)
6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 K
L - Joe Saunders

Boy those sure do feel good, you'd like to see them more often though.

I went to bed with the comfortable lead and woke up to see the damage that had been caused. I'm actually finishing up watching the replay on STO right now.

Austin Kearns?! Where did this come from? I mean holy hell this guy is blistering hot at the plate right now, you have to keep getting him into the lineup. There is just no way around it, he needs to be starting every day in left field right now.

He powered that win, no doubt about it.

The offense as a whole though. It looked like it was going to be just like the game against Justin Duchscherer.all over again. Yeah they got runs off him in the third and then struck again in the fifth, but Joe Saunders was horrible. They hit into three double plays in the first four innings and it was beginning to look ugly again.

But really the late come-on saved it. You bang out those many hits, you probably should score more than 9 runs, but we won't be greedy at this point in time, you just want to see the hits continue to come. I will say though, the one double play that Grady lined into to end the fourth was a hard hit ball, so there really isn't much you can say or do, LaPorta was off just far enough.

All in all, great offensive outing. Lou Marson got his first multi-hit game this year and actually reached base three times, which is half of the times he's reached all season (6, three hits and three walks coming into tonight). That also lets me shave as I said I would grow the beard out until he got a multi-hit game. I'd like to think I had a part in him busting out.

Also Matt LaPorta took one step closer to earning back his Matola nickname with a few hits, both against Saunders, which ended an 0-18 slump against left-handed pitching this season. The right-hander shouldn't be waiting until April 27th to get his first hit against a lefty.

Pitching, what more can you say about Mitch Talbot? He retired the first eight hitters of the night in order before letting Brandon Wood on with a single past Peralta. Overall a good night for him as he had to battle through a tough lineup, so to let up only one run with all the base runners he dealt with, that's a good solid showing out of your fifth starter. You will take that type of game every night from him and he's now 3-1.

We can do this, we can win this series and end the road trip on a great note. Ervin Santana is on the mound, which for the Indians is sort of like when a bull sees the color red.
[BOXSCORE]

Game 3
Jake Westbrook Vs Ervin Santana
MLB.com Preview

Indians Vs Santana
Santana: 0-6, 7 GS, 6.03 ERA
@ Los Angeles: 32-30, 71 GS, 3.80 ERA
Sizemore: 4/18, 3 BB, 5 K
Hafner: 4/15, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K
Peralta: 2/12, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Branyan: 2/6, 1 BB, 1 K
Cabrera: 1/8, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K


Angels Vs Westbrook
Westbrook: 3-5, 9 GS, 3.11 ERA
@ Los Angeles: 2-2, 5 GS, 4.33 ERA
Hunter: 10/41, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K
Izturis: 5/15, 1 BB, 1 K
Matsui: 5/11, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Rivera: 2/7, 1 RBI, 2 K
Abreu: 1/5, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K

Recap
CLE 3 | LAA 4
W - Brian Fuentes
L - Joe Smith (0-1)
Westbrook: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Wow.... Horrible way to lose that one.

I mean crimedy! A bunt? Chris Perez comes in and welcome to the game CFNP, have a bunt, game over!

Acta was going for broke, so whoever executed the call, whether it was Ron Roenicke or Mike Scioscia telepathically, they went for it knowing full well the Indians were pretty much going for it with very little left in the bullpen, so why not go for it as well?

Hey, I don't know.. The offense was okay. They had a few situations where they did not come through and that's where you get critical, but this game was about one thing in my mind.

Jake Westbrook falls apart yet again... WOW.. He was looking fantastic through the first few innings. He had the one rocky inning where he was in a jam because Cabrera botched a double play ball and then he came right back and picked up the defense with another double play ball. That was Jake of old.

Starting to see it and I thought at one point he was going to go at least eight, easy. I had him signed up for eight. Then the sixth inning happened.Aybar gets the single after he thought he walked on three pitches. Abreu walks and then Torii Hunter lifts a elevated sinker into the left field seats.

One pitch, tie game... One pitch, great game down the drain.

I can't believe it.. Just a tough game to lose.

Hafner, Branyan, and Peralta went 0-for whatever with the two walks. Hafner got hit with the bases loaded and then Russ strikes out on three pitches. He swings for the fences twice and then LOOKS at the third pitch sort of right down the middle.

MARSON Friggin Marson! Two multi-hit games in a row now. Two games with a double too. I said I'd keep growing out my beard (or whatever I can do with what I'm working with it) until Lou Marson had a multi-hit game (didn't have one on Monday). Well he did it Tuesday and he did it again tonight, so I'm figuring... I might as well keep this going until he goes hit-less.. Right? Right.

Just depressing.. There's an off-day and then we get to go home... This team has lost so many games they should have won... When is the tide going to turn in our favor? When is this team going to get consistent? Argh.

We Owe Ya One - Series MVP
Austin Kearns: 7/13, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 2B, 2 BB, 1 SB

This didn't surprise anyone right? I mean look at this guy's numbers for the three games series. Even with one hit in the third game, he was killing the ball. three doubles, two home runs, he scored four times. He was on base nine times, NINE times.. And this team only won one game in the series? Should scored more runs with that production, because everyone else should have had some production in addition to Kearns.

Looking Ahead
Vs Minnesota
Fausto Carmona Vs Nick Blackburn
Justin Masterson Vs Kevin Slowey
David Huff Vs Francisco Liriano

4.26.2010

Site Update: 4/26 Update Hiatus, Sort Of

I decided last night that I need to buckle down for the next three days. I have a paper and a project due this week and both are worth a lot of points. I've already put off a lot of it considerably, but that is just my style. However I don't think I can focus nor have the energy if I try updating as well.

The only thing you'll see is game recaps, if that. With the next two games being at 10:00, I probably won't make it much past 11 in both instances, so the recaps will be brief to begin with.

Expect things to sort of be normal around Friday, but I'll be out of town this weekend and unsure if I'll have internet access, so it could be next week where things actually get back to normal. Like I said, the series overview will get updated, but don't expect any other updates.

Maybe we'll get over the .500 mark in the process.

4.25.2010

Series #6: @ Oakland 4/23-4/25

Cleveland Indians @ Oakland Athletics
April 23rd - April 25th: 3 Game Series
Friday - 10:05 PM* / Saturday - 4:05 PM / Sunday - 4:05 PM*
*-STO #-ESPN/ESPN2 %-Fox $-MLBNetwork

The Scene
Cleveland (7-8) -  Oakland (10-7)
Standings: 3rd AL Central (2.5 GB)
Streak: Won 1
Oakland: Won 1

The Latest

4/23: The Indians are coming off a big win in Minnesota to avoid a sweep and also get their offense going. They now travel to Oakland to start a six game road swing on the West Coast. The first game will feature two pitchers who didn't throw last season in Jake Westbrook and Justin Duchscherer.

Random Notes: You might be shocked, but Travis Hafner has reached base in all 14 games he's played in. Since August 30th of last year, the Indians have lost 21 of 24 road games, they've only won three games on the road this year, two in Chicago and the finale in Minnesota this week. Cleveland didn't win a game last year in Oakland, getting swept in a four game series, but they did win two out of three in the series at Cleveland. The A's are off to a hot start as AL-West leaders.

Tribe Injuries
Hector Ambriz (DL)
Kerry Wood (DL)
Anthony Reyes (60DL)

Game 1
Jake Westbrook Vs Justin Duchscherer
Indians Vs Duchscherer
Duchscherer: 1-3, 2 GS, 3.60 ERA
@ Oakland: 20-9, 13 GS, 2.72 ERA
Sizemore: 2/8, 1 BB, 3 K
Hafner: 3/8, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Peralta: 2/8, 1 RBI, 4 K
Cabrera: 1/5, 1 BB, 1 K
Branyan: 0/1


Athletics Vs Westbrook
Westbrook: 5-5, 12 GS, 3.87 ERA
@ Oakland: 2-3, 5 GS, 2.55 ERA
Chavez: 9/26, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 8 BB, 2 K
Barton: 1/3, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Gross: 1/3, 2 K

Recap
CLE 0 | OAK 10
W - Justin Duchscherer
L - Jake Westbrook (0-2)
5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K


In a way it isn't surprising that 10 runs were scored in this game, but in a way it was.

Missed opportunities galore in this one, what else can you say? This team simply let Justin Duchscherer off the hook one too many times. Four double plays in the first four innings? The guy walks four and gives up four hits in the first four innings and you can't capitalize? Numerous opportunities and really, just pathetic overall situation hitting.

Then in the sixth you get Choo on, Hafner with a full-count and one out. He obviously has him on the ropes and Choo gets picked off. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?

Just horrible.

Jake Westbrook pitched much better than the statistics would indicate. Sure he was in jams similar to Duchscherer and he got his own fair share of double plays, but he only walked one. He was getting hitters to swing at his pitches for the most part when he did get into trouble.

Then it hit him in the sixth. Not sure what happened there but it just hit him. He pitched way better than the four runs given up would indicate and I'm sure a product of the "fall off" would be the disappointing end to the Indians half of the sixth with the pick-off play.

Aaron Laffey did a great job to calm things down and then I think we just saw the end of Jamey Wright. I know Valbuena and Cabrera committed the errors and he only was charged with one earned run, but he had the wild pitch and he walked two in the inning. That's enough for me to place blame on him for most of it.

Just horrible...

Matt LaPorta looks awful at the plate. Two more double plays... The guy is KILLING us offensively. Sure there are others up there like Sizemore and and Peralta that aren't hitting, but LaPorta is killing rallies.

On the road Choo hasn't been all that awesome. The only real one consistency has been, and you are going to think this is crazy, Travis Hafner, who walked two more times in this one. His OBP is steady around .333. He's only hitting .231, but he's getting on base for this team, which is not something you can say for other hitters.

Cabrera has been consistently hitting in a way, but really, this is is just overall pathetic.

They need to get it going here with the crucial hits. They're getting people on, they just aren't finishing.


Game 2
Fausto Carmona Vs Brett Anderson
Indians Vs Anderson
Anderson: 1-0, 1 GS, 0.00 ERA
@ Oakland: 1-0, 1 GS, 0.00 ERA
Branyan: 2/5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Choo: 0/2, 1 BB, 2 K
Peralta: 0/3, 1 K
LaPorta: 0/2, 1 K
Marson: 0/2, 1 K


Athletics Vs Carmona
Carmona: 2-3, 6 GS, 6.97 ERA
@ Oakland: 1-1, 3 GS, 5.30 ERA
Suzuki: 2/6, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Barton: 2/5, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Buck: 2/4, 3 BB
Gross: 3/5, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Chavez: 1/5

Recap
CLE 6 | OAK 1
W - Fausto Carmona (3-0)
7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K
L - Chad Gaudin


The losses that this team takes seems like we focus on the hitting, or lack thereof. The wins though, it just seems to be the pitching.

For a while it looked like the Carmona was going to be wasted. The only trouble Carmona ran into was in the third inning when he gave up the run off three straight hits. But Carmona came back, got the outs needed and cruised through.

Then in the sixth it all changed. Redmond gets the leadoff double and Cabrera bunts him over to third with one out. At that point you just need to put the ball in play, which Grundle did hitting in the two spot. Unfortunately back to the pitcher won't get it done.

Then the Indians came up with the situation that they haven't really had problems with. It seems as if they can't come through when it has been the easiest, but with two outs, this team has actually been fairly clutch and it happened with Choo's hit.

Two innings later in the same scenario, again this club comes through in a tie game with two outs. Grundle makes up for failing last time with a base knock. Choo gets another hit and it brings up Kearns who extends the lead by another run.

Then like in the first game, the Indians really put this one out of reach later with three more runs in the ninth. Kearns fueled that one too for his second and third RBIs of the game.

AUSTIN KEARNS?!

Man the guy has been good in spots so far. In this game as a whole the vets really came through. From Redmond's double, Grundle's big hit and Kearns big day.

I gotta point out LaPorta again... He was having a bad game until it was his leadoff single that got things started in the eighth inning. Grady did come in to run for him but that was a big thing for him to get at this point. He's really been scuffling so to come up with a hit that gave us the chance to get ahead is good for him.

Really though, what more can you say about Fausto? He didn't walk anyone in this one and from the looks of it he seemed to be in real control the entire game. Seven hits, but three came in the third and the rest were spread out to the point where it's fine if the hits pile up like that.

Oh and here's a big thing, Carmona really set the tone with no walks, but Perez's walk in the ninth was the only one surrendered by Indians pitchers in this one. When's the last time we gave up one walk this season?

Hugely awesome win. You'd like to see the offense get more consistent, but despite the squandered opportunities in game one, they've at least seemed to be able to hit, which is a start.

They win this series and this road trip will be on good ground and the team will be at a .500 record, so let's get it done.

[BOXSCORE]

Game 3
Justin Masterson Vs Gio Gonzalez
MLB.com Preview

Indians Vs Gonzalez
Gonzalez: 1-0, 2 GS, 2.79 ERA
@ Oakland: 3-7, 13 GS, 7.03 ERA
Branyan: 1/5, 1 BB, 1 K
Cabrera: 1/4, 1 BB
Choo: 2/5, 3 K
Peralta: 1/4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Sizemore: 1/3, 1 RBI, 1 K


Athletics Vs Masterson
Masterson: 0-1, 1 GS, 3.75 ERA
@ Oakland: 0-1, 1 GS, 5.64 ERA
Gross: 4/7, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K
Davis: 1/4, 2 K
Suzuki: 1/5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 K
Sweeney: 0/3, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Barton: 0/2

Recap
CLE 0 | OAK 11
W - Gio Gonzalez
L - Justin Masterson (0-3)
4 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 4 K

I'll say it right here... This was the worst starting pitching outing this season. The other starts have been for the most part good and the ones that didn't end up desirably didn't look this bad.

Justin Masterson was awful today. Flat out... He looked horrible. I'm going to leave it at that.

The offense was frustrating and I was ready to go off on it yet again after the first few innings, but Masterson's outing shielded all that.

Did we just run into good pitching? I mean the A's staff has been good this season, so in a way you can sort of understand the lack of production (doesn't excuse the awful situational hitting in game one), but their offense isn't very productive.

So in that instance, you have to be upset with the pitching in this game and sort of in game one for not getting the job done.

Matt Underwood had it the best when he said "ERIC PATTERSON" in a high-pitched like voice after he hit a home run in this game. Patterson then nearly did it again later in the game. I mean dang, Eric Patterson? That skinny guy?

This was just a horrible one and I will leave it at that... There wasn't a damn thing that was positive about it.

[BOXSCORE]

We Owe Ya One - Series MVP
Fausto Carmona: W, 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Yep this is how it's going to go from the looks of it.

Fausto Carmona had his first ace-like moment of the season when he dominated the A's and provided the only win for the Indians in this one.

I stop here...Thank you Fausto

Looking Ahead
@ Los Angeles
David Huff Vs Jered Weaver
Mitch Talbot Vs Joe Saunders
Jake Westbrook Vs Ervin Santana

Notes and Quotes: Carmona not worried about history, Wood decision today

Yesterday was successful for me in a sports sense. These days aren't often. But three of my four professional sports teams all won, and the fourth didn't win because they obviously weren't playing football.

But Jonathan Dwyer is a big win in my book.

And I will say this about many's beloved Brownies... Despite my love for the enemy, I'm often trying to throw my two cents in about the Browns. I was saying for the past week now that they needed to draft Colt McCoy in the second round and screw Clausen or another Quarterback in the draft. Use that seventh overall pick for the best defensive player available (I would have went with Earl Thomas, but there is nothing wrong with Joe Haden, matter of preference I think.) and take your QB later.

If Mike Holmgren is eventually going to install the West Coast Offense, this is his guy. The next closest sport to baseball that I watch and like is College Football. While it isn't even close to baseball, I watch a lot of college football. McCoy is going to be a stud and for my money, was the best QB option in this draft based off where you could get him and what he'll do. Next was Tebow (who I wouldn't have picked in the first round, but still love) then Clausen and finally Bradford.

Basically I had them in reverse order of where they went. Why? Because it's simple.  McCoy and Tebow aren't going to get a lot of love from the scouts and Mel Kiper, but they're winners committed to winning. They are going to do everything you ask them to and it just so happens both fell into situations that are set up perfectly for them. Bradford is set up in a situation that could be disaster from the get-go if the Rams don't get it right. Clausen also fell into a good spot with a lot of pieces already in place.

Anyway that's enough, this is a baseball blog after all and more specifically the Cleveland Indians rock. But I just thought I should let the Brownie fans here know that this jackass approves of what they did. Because you aren't validated until I do so. Winner, onto the quotes! and the notes! McGotes! Joben!

Just for the record I'm clearly in a better mood the day after an Indians win and more likely to quote movies. I hope the last part hit home with someone.

[HISTORY? WHAT HISTORY?]

Was Fausto Carmona worried about his past numbers against the Oakland Athletics? Was he even aware of them? I'm sure someone made him aware at some point. But the new Fausto Carmona could probably care less. This is a new Fausto Carmona after all.


"Oh yeah, a lot of trouble before today," Carmona said of his history vs. Oakland.


"Fausto gave us another terrific outing," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "[He] really gave us a chance to get something going offensively, even if it was late in the game. He was tough. He threw strike one and continued to pound the strike zone, regardless of their left-handed-heavy lineup against him."

"In the past, when he was behind in the count, he had to either throw that four-seamer right down the middle or become predictable," Acta said. "Now by pitching ahead, he can spot the ball to both sides and utilize his other pitches. He had a good slider today against righties. He's been very good so far."

"It's much better for me when I don't walk anybody,'' Carmona said. 

History is history at this point. Not only does his past struggles against Oakland not matter, neither does what he used to do, because he isn't doing it now. As Acta said he's no longer pitching behind so he can do what he wants. And even Carmona realizes it.. I mean it seems logical, but until that pitcher actually believes in what you are preaching to him, and Carmona clearly is, it isn't as easy as just "throw strikes, don't walk anyone, okay? Good!"

Along with all of that, he isn't think about things anymore. At least the wrong things. He doesn't think about the past against Oakland or any of that. He thinks about throwing strikes and making the next pitch, not the pitch after the next pitch.

Let this be the mantra from now on. A Focused Fausto is a Capable Carmona. Corny, but effective and true.

Oh and he's fired up to win. Mike Redmond said he and the infield saw Carmona not wanting to exit the game in the seventh inning. While that's awesome, I think Acta made the right call (especially since Sipp got the double play) and really, emotions might say he was pitching well enough to get out of it, who knows.


[KERRY WOOD DECISION COMING]

We will find out today what the club is planning on doing with Kerry Wood.

Wood will throw a bullpen sessions today, after he felt fine playing catch on Saturday. It was more frustration more than anything from Friday's session, not necessarily a setback. If everything checks out today, the Indians will make a decision on what to to do with him.

What exactly are their options? I don't think anyone really knows for sure and it probably depends on how Wood feels. If Acta gets his way, Wood will go on a rehab assignment, even if its just for a game or two, to get in-game experience under his belt before he's thrown into the fire.

I'd have to imagine that is what will happen if things check out today, but I'm not exactly sure what has to check out or any of that.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

You have to feel good about the way the offense came together late yesterday. But we probably legit said that after the game on Thursday. Remember what I said yesterday though? Redmond sort of echoed it.

"We've been hitting some balls hard," Redmond said. "We just haven't been getting a whole lot of breaks. We just needed a couple breaks. Davis there, he dove all out. He just missed it. We needed that. He was close. And he ran a long way. He can fly.'

I don't want that to be an excuse, but if it's enough reason to motivate the club and give them confidence that they are hitting, but it just isn't falling, then I don't really care, as long as it works.

Finally, my week ends better when I can read all the gems Terry Pluto gives us.

Pluto says Mitch Talbot doesn't let the small things worry him. One bad inning doesn't snowball. In the past we've had our fair share of pitchers like that and still do. Cliff Lee did that pre-awesome stage of his career, Fausto did that when he was bad the past few years, and that is one of Carlos Carrasco's big weaknesses. So it's refreshing to see a pitcher on staff with that type of attitude.

Pluto says the Indians have two weeks to decide on what to do with Hector Ambriz, who has pitched nothing but scoreless innings for Columbus in his "rehab" assignment. I have this feeling that if he keeps putting up zeros, they're going to give him an opportunity, unless they can work out a trade that sounds feasible to them.

I think it's clear at this point that Ambriz is no longer injured, but the Indians are milking every second they can from his DL stint to see what he can do and how he's progressed in life as a relief pitcher. The dude has nearly struck out two hitters per inning (11 in 6) so far.

Why is Lou Marson still around? Simply put he settled down defensively enough for the Indians. He is still not hitting very well, but this team needs to give him his chance at the plate. Three weeks is not nearly fair enough to pull the plug on him, as wasn't two. Of course with another home run last night, the calls for Santana will continue to grow, especially if the offense up here doesn't hit.

Gotta love Terry Pluto.

Minor Issues: Bixler? BIXLER?!

What's the News?
Ever wonder what Extended Spring Training is all about and what it is REALLY like? Tony covers all of it at IPI in his EST 101 article, a great resource.

Blogger is in a rare state right now, kind of basicish. I don't know why. Ah well, onto minor stuff.

COLUMBUS

The Carlos battery powered the Clippers to a 7-1 win over Toledo on Saturday.

Starter Carlos Carrasco rebounded well from a rough previous outing by going seven innings, giving up just one hit off six hits and just one walk. He struck out four and certainly the lack of walks and low strikeouts probably let him go deep into this one.

Hector Ambriz put forth another scoreless effort as he pitched the eighth and struck out one. Gotta wonder what the Indians are going to do with him.

Carlos Santana in his second game back after missing one due to fouling a ball off his leg hit a two-run shot in the fourth to fuel the offense that banged out 11 hits. But it was little Brian Bixler with a huge power surge, hitting two home runs, a two-run and a solo shot, in this game. Jason Donald doubled and knocked in another run as Chris Gimenez had two hits on the day.

The Clippers also stole three bases, one by Carlos Santana, his second of the year.

Columbus will send Hector Rondon to the mound as they look to take three out of four and win the series.

AKRON

It's been a long week and after the night before, I'm sure the Aeros are ready to get as far away from Bowie as possible. However they picked up a much needed win over the Baysox on Saturday, 8-6.

Nick Weglarz went 2-5 with three RBI and also his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning, in support of the Aeros bullpen who did a great job of cleaning up a Scott Barnes mess.

Tim Fedroff added a couple of runs knocked in and Rivero, Mills, and Goedert all added one themselves. Two more hits for Cord Phelps inches him ever closer to that .400 mark, he's hot.

The club had four doubles on the day as well.

After getting past the first two innings with nothing going on, Barnes got battered around in the third inning. He then came out and struggled to start the fourth (loaded the bases with no outs) which led to him getting yanked. Justin Germano came on in relief and while he let runs score, the damage was sort of limited and the bullpen would cruise from there on out.

Barnes finished with a wacky line of 3 IP, 6 runs off 6 hits and four walks with seven, yes seven, strikeouts. Germano would go three scoreless, Erik Stiller and Neil Wagner would each pitch scoreless frames, and Vinnie Pestano picked up his first save of the season with Wagner getting his first win.

Connor Graham will mercifully take the mound for the Aeros against Bowie. His last outing against them didn't go so hot.

KINSTON

Kelvin De La Cruz picked up win number one on the season with five innings of work as the K-Tribe beat Myrtle Beach 7-4.

DLC gave up three earned in the five innings and struck out three.Steve Smith recorded the final out in the eighth and all three in the ninth to pick up save number four.

The K-Tribe's offense came in the form of a pair of home runs, s solo shot by Jason Kipnis and a two-run dinger by Nate Recknagel. Kipnis also went 3-4 with two runs scored and an additional RBI. 


Doug Pickens had two hits and knocked in a run outside those three, Ron Rivas and Lucas Montero were the only other hitters that actually got hits.


Nick Hagadone is a go for the K-Tribe as they finish off this series with Myrtle Beach on Sunday.

LAKE COUNTY

Lake County and Bowling Green got rained out on Saturday. They'll play a shortened double-header on Sunday beginning at 3:05 with today's original starter, Joe Gardner on the mound in game one and Danny Salazar getting the start in game two.

4.24.2010

Notes and Quotes: Westbrook just looking to finish, Peralta still the starter

I got nothing for an intro today.

[BEST OUTING FOR WESTBROOK YET]

It may have not ended pretty, but Jake Westbrook had his best outing of the year in my opinion. The last thing Westbrook has to finish off is actually finishing off and he admitted that.

"I felt good; I felt strong," Westbrook said. That's kind of been the theme for me this year, its just a matter of finishing out strong. I battled the whole ballgame and then I kind of just gave it away there in the sixth."

"I have to do a better job of focusing and keeping the ball down," Westbrook said. "I haven't been able to finish off my outings. Hopefully that will come as my arm gets stronger throughout the season. Right now, it's just frustrating for me."

Perhaps its arm strength, not used to going that deep into games and he gets tired? Marson said that his stuff is there, he just needs to build up the strength to be able to finish strong.


[ACTA NOT MAKING EXCUSES, BUT PREACHES STRONG WILL]

"Before today's game, we were second in the league in defense. I don't think any of these guys are taking the offense to the field," said manager Manny Acta. "I'm not going to make any excuses for my guys. Our defense has been huge for us in winning seven games." 

"We're fighting through this," Acta said. "We're not the only team that is struggling offensively. Certainly I don't want to compare our team to anybody else, but it's tough, and we have to keep fighting until some of the guys come to life." 

You definitely have to be disappointed in the three errors, but I'd rather commit ten errors and have only one impact the game than commit three or four and have all of them directly impact the game. As for the offense, it was yet another disappointment after a game in which they appeared to have busted out, putting us right back in that slump.

It goes back to what Manny Acta said the other day, another pitcher can put you right back into another slump. This is just a slowly starting offense, maybe we have to realize that. Jhonny Peralta is a horrendous April hitter, Grady Sizemore isn't really hitting, and the the young hitters at the bottom of the lineup have been spotty, if not horrible.

Yesterday, there was no excuses. Acta is going to say they hit the balls hard when they committed outs with runners on, and they did, but you can't use that as an excuse as to why you didn't score a single run yesterday. You can use that as a reason to believe this offense is right around the corner, but you can't say "Well we had those hard hit balls, they just didn't fall."

Too many opportunities. If there was a couple, I'd say, fine. But they had four double plays in the first four innings. Then you get picked off later. No excuses.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Kerry Wood has suffered a don't call it a setback setback. Because he's ahead of schedule, Wood nor the Indians are willing to say what happened Friday was a "setback" to his rehab process. But Wood wasn't pleased with the results of his session on Friday in Oakland. He'll play catch on Saturday and see how he feels when he wakes up, but Wood said he expected to be sharp and ready to go, but he wasn't.

They'll make a decision today, their three options: Another simulated game, rehab, or rest. Rest would obviously be the least desirable of the choices.

The Indians will not be benching Jhonny Peralta for Andy Marte any time soon.

"Jhonny Peralta is our third baseman," Acta said. "It's tough to reach that point when this guy has the track record that he has. There is a reason why this guy was signed to the deal he was signed. There is a reason why this guy, even in a so-called down year last year, drove in 83 runs." 

Acta said he's earned the right to not have to make a commitment to him. He is the guy because of track record and as painful as it is, I'd have to agree. He may be off to a horrendous start, but this is par for the course with Peralta. All we can really do wait until he's no longer on this team at some point.

Fausto Carmona will be on the mound today for the Indians and Acta credits Carmona's turnaround to his better grasp on control. Acta and his staff told Carmona in the offseason that he isn't a strikeout pitcher and it looks as if it's taking.

Minor Issues: Clippers Comeback and Aeros Falter

What's the News?
Minor Happenings is up at IPI and Tony sort of rights a wrong by giving Bo Greenwell his player of the week. Greenwell was robbed of the Midwest player of the week by losing out to the person who is second to him in virtually every hitting category. Go Figure.

Tony talked to Mickey Callaway in Lake County, has quotes from Ross Atkins and covers the latest injury news on Jeremy Sowers, Eric Berger and more.

COLUMBUS

With late rallies in the seventh and eighth innings, the Clippers pulled ahead of Toledo to win 6-2 and even up the series against the Mud Hens.

Errors by Brian Buscher and Anderson Hernandez (cut this guy already) led to the Toledo runs as Scott Lewis got through the first three innings adventurously but unscathed. He went five innings, two unearned runs, six hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

Josh Tomlin picked up the win with three brilliant innings of scoreless ball, giving up just one walk in the process.

The offense was at its best late. Michael Brantley, Trevor Crowe, and Jason Donald did their job at the top, with both Donald and Crowe getting on and stealing bases. Donald scored, walked twice and knocked in two runs, while Crowe scored once and Brantley scored twice off two walks and a hit. Carlos Santana was back in the lineup and up to his usual tricks, going 0-2 but walking three times. Fear the Man.

Big Bad Shelley Duncan knocked in three runs (17 leads the team this season) on the game and Wes Hodges added a sacrifice fly to top off the scoring.

Carlos Carrasco goes in game three of the series on Saturday and looks to rebound from a shaky outing earlier this week.

AKRON

This is getting painful to watch. The Aeros pitching staff got beat down yet again by Bowie, this time surrendering 12 runs and allowing a run in every inning but the 2nd and 3rd as they lost 12-9. What's sad is the fact that the Aeros plated nine before Bowie went on that run to hold a 9-2 lead. Oucccch.

Zach Putnam gave up the two early runs, settled down for two innings and then didn't make it past the fourth inning. He got hit hard for the first time all year giving up five earned (six total) off eight hits and three walks. The bullpen as you can imagine didn't calm things down. Grening gave up two, CC Lee gave up three in his two innings and officially blew the lead and Vinnie Pestano gave up an unearned run.

The positive note is that the Aeros scored some runs, perhaps this is a bit of a turning point for the offense which has been inconsistent.

Lonnie Chisenhall had three hits to raise his average up to .351 as he scored and knocked in a run. Tim Fedroff and Cord Phelps had a pair of hits and RBIs, with Fedroff the only Aero to not score in this game. The big hit came from Beau Mills who knocked in three with a double and knocked the Bowie starter Britton out of the game in the fourth.

Jared Goedert also had a nice game going 1-2 with a double a run scored, a RBI and two walks.

The Aeros try again on Saturday with Scott Barnes on the mound.

KINSTON

Starter Joey Mahalic staked his K-Tribe ball club to a good lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it as Myrtle Beach rallied late to top Kinston 6-5.

Mahalic went 5.2 innings, giving up one run off just five hits. Travis Turek who relieved him in the sixth ended up blowing it with three earned, four total with the aid of Matt Langwell and a Karexon Sanchez error.

Lucas Montero hit his first home run of the year, a solo shot in the third inning. Bellows, Martinez, and Rivas all knocked in runs for the K-Tribe.

Kelvin De La Cruz goes for Kinston in Saturday's game.

LAKE COUNTY

Captains specialty! Lake County won 3-2 over Bowling Green in the series opener despite being out-hit 10-7.

Bo Greenwell, Ben Carlson, and Jeremie Tice with the run support, Carlson had two hits. Delvi Cid stole his ninth base of the season and walked twice.

Trey Haley went five innings and gave up two runs off six hits and two walks. Rob Bryson picked up his third win of the season by going two scoreless and Cory Burns struck out two to earn his fifth save of the season.

Joe Gardner goes for Lake County in Game Two.


4.23.2010

Notes and Quotes: Welcome to Marty's Party

Yesterday was a victory for me. I said I wasn't going to update and it took everything in me to not do this in the morning or Wednesday night, but I did it. Yes I did a quick recap of the Twins game, but minor issues and notes and quotes take up some time and I'm proud of myself from resisting the temptation.

A week and a few days left of regular updates. Yes I have papers and projects due next week, but I'll find time to update. Once May hits though, work is starting up and if it goes anything like last year, I'll be very tired and updating will be spotty. I'm going to make a better effort this year though.

We had a great win yesterday, so let's see the great quotes and some of those greater notes.

[CONFIDENT TALBOT NO LONGER TRYING OUT]


"I think after he got the first start in Detroit out of the way, he now knows he's not in a tryout," Acta said. "He belongs here and in our rotation, and he looks more comfortable."

"My first callup with Tampa Bay was not the greatest, and my first game in Detroit I was walking guys and not throwing strikes," he said. "To get that complete game was a confidence-builder. Now I know I can pitch in the big leagues. I always believed, and now I know." 

Not only is he pitching with the confidence that he has a job, Mitch Talbot is pitching with confidence that he can do the job.

He walked a few yesterday and arguably the run he left up wouldn't have happened if not for an error, but Talbot was good again yesterday. He's very much a control pitcher that has a good changeup and he did another good job of keeping the opposing off balance. Acta and Belcher want Talbot to pound the zone and use his defense. Did that yesterday.


"He's looks more comfortable out there. This guy has the repertoire, if he does throw the ball over the plate, that could make him valuable to us."
 
"This is the first outing he's had it working as good as we know he's capable of having it," said Acta. "Even in the complete game against Texas, he relied a lot on his sinker." 

Asdrubal Cabrera was huge after he botched a play earlier this series. Cabs turned three of the four double plays and after a rough few games at the plate (hitting into the DP on the first pitch with the bases loaded) had a good day at the plate going 2-4.


[PARTY MARTY]

If Miley Cyrus isn't stuck in your head after all the time's I've mentioned it this season and all spring, then, well I don't know. But the party counter is updated because Marty partied yesterday and it was a huge one.


"It feels great," Marte said. "I don't play that much right now, but I come early to get my extra work in and to be ready when they need me."


You gotta feel good for Andy Marte. People continuously bash him, but he keeps hanging around and you'd eventually like to see the hard work he's put in (and he's really put in the work, which is a big turnaround from a few years ago when he didn't) finally pay off.

Oh he did make the gaff later with the error, but it was simply just a botched play, like Cabrera, that's usually a play Marte will make. Perhaps he was just thinking about the home run he hit.

"I just got too comfortable," Marte said. "No excuse. I've got to make that play." 

 Acta was pretty forgiving because of the home run, and probably with the fact that they won 8-1. Marte also made the joke that he drove in three runs with his bat and one with his glove.

"Hey, he just hit a two-run homer," said Acta. "Why get mad at him for letting one in?" 

The offense as a whole really set off from there. Maybe the fact that Marte hit the home run broke the ice for everyone else because it just fell in place after that. Acta knows that this just one game though and that just as good as they were yesterday, today could put them right back in the gutter.

"Every day you're going to be facing a guy who can put you right back into a slump," he said. "I just want to see quality at-bats from all the guys and it will happen. You just can't have that many guys struggle for the whole year." 

Something to feel good about this one though. They scored five runs off Scott Baker, which was the exact total they scored off him all year. So that's good to see that they can get to a guy who pretty much owned them last year.

I will say that Acta's attitude is refreshing. I listen to ESPN 850 Cleveland sometimes on the way home, only when I forget to change the channel in the morning before I park. I like Mike and Mike, but it's so static that I don't want to put up with 850 much after that. But the other day I heard one of the dudes on there running down the averages and basically just saying how awful the offense was.

ITS TWO AND A HALF WEEKS! Slow down buddy!

"Baseball disappoints me; it doesn't frustrate me," Acta said Thursday. "Violent people, negative people, sarcastic people, slow drivers in the left lane and disrespectful people frustrate me. Not baseball." 

"Patience plus self-control leads to success," Acta said. "You have to be patient, because you know things will balance out. Grady Sizemore won't hit .220 [for the season], Travis Hafner won't hit what he's hitting, six guys won't be hitting a buck-eighty. You have to be patient. It's part of coaching, especially when you're dealing with young people." 

I picked the White Sox to win the AL Central. I had a chance to change it when I was asked again for another poll on Bleacher Report. Should I have? Probably, because it isn't looking so hot right now for Chicago.

But did I? No. Why? Because I'm not going to have a snap judgment off three weeks of the season. It's early, way way early. Too many things can still happen. Sure the Twins look great right now, but will they look this great for all 162 games this season? Probably not. Will they look great for more games than Chicago this season? Likely, but why stray from what you originally thought this early?

Why get in a tiff about Sizemore hitting .220 this early in the season? A few good games and he is up near .300. Averages are whole different animal in their own right. Not only should you not jump at early season performances like this and regard it as what will happen for the rest of the year, you should take batting averages with a grain of salt.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

The day off for Jhonny Peralta was scheduled, thank god they scheduled it then. It was perfect timing for Marte.

Austin Kearns replaced Matt LaPorta in left field later in the game, but he played a majority in left field and said everything was good.

I've heard this "Social Deck" thing bandied about the interwebs, but I thought it was just the party deck renamed. Guess I'm not paying as good as attention. The Social Deck is something created, sort of on a whim, by Mark Shapiro a few weeks before the season started. So really it isn't quite there yet. But basically it's the Cleveland Indians jumping on the social media bandwagon. It's a little closed off deck in left field for.. well for people like me.

Basically if you are a blogger or a tweeter or a non-professional journalist, this is the place the Indians have set up for you. It is invite only at this point, which makes me wonder, they've played like how many games at home at this point, six? If there are ten seats and it is by invite only, who exactly are they inviting?

Or are they waiting until it is ironed out to dive into it more? Waiting for Next Year got an invite for opening day, but to my knowledge, I know of no one else that was invited. The biggest issue was the lack of Wi-Fi, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of the deck, but that is expected to be fixed soon. As mentioned, this was pretty much thrown together late by Shapiro.

Do I want an invite? Well, hell yeah I want an invite, who doesn't? But if there is no Wi-Fi, there is no point. Right? Right.

Oh and doesn't the "Social Deck" logo look a lot like the facebook logo? Yeah kinda.

Anyway, this is a great thing for the Indians to do. It also sort of shows off one of Shapiro's first Presidential type moves as he's initiated this thing. Shapiro has never been afraid to embrace the "new age" parts of baseball and this is certainly yet another new age aspect that he is accommodating. And as a blogger, I'm of course in support of that.

Minor Issues: Caps drop first series, Pino falls off after three for Clips

What's the News?

Red hot Bo Greenwell joined Paul and Tony on their latest edition of Smoke Signals. Make sure you check it out.

I don't think I mentioned this in the past few updates (and I didn't update yesterday) but the mascot Jordan Henry was placed on the Disabled List by Kinston a few days ago. Also on Kinston's roster, Santo Frias is on the disabled list and to replace him the K-Tribe received Brett Brach from Extended Spring Training. He was with the Scrappers last year in the rotation.

Henry has a sprained finger.

I'm sure everyone is wondering what is with Carlos Santana and we haven't touched up on it here yet. But it looks as if Santana is fine. He's day to day after fouling a ball off his leg.

COLUMBUS

For about three innings it was looking like the Clippers were set for a great game. They were up 2-0 and Yohan Pino was pretty much untouchable. But Toledo exploded in the fourth and never looked back, beating the Clippers 6-4 to take the the first game of a four gamer.

Shelley Duncan and Wes Hodges both had three hits and a RBI for the Clips and Jason Donald walked twice and went 1-3 with a RBI and run scored.

Pino was great from the start until he hit some bad trouble in the fourth. Pino struck out all seven of the hitters he struck out in the first three innings, including the first four hitters of the game.

Then he lost it in the fourth and ended up going six innings with four runs off six hits and two walks. Pino didn't take the loss though, that would be Jess Todd who gave up two runs in the eighth inning despite striking out the side.

Hector Ambriz had his first rough outing for Columbus but he didn't give up any runs. He gave up two hits and a walk but he struck out two and got out of the inning.

Columbus looks to take game two against Toledo with Scotty Lewis on the mound.

AKRON

After getting swept by Altoona, the Aeros arrived in Bowie to return the trip and hopefully return the result, but so far no good as they lost 7-2 to the Baysox.

Lonnie Chisenhall had two hits and a RBI and the other run was knocked in by Matt McBride's second home run of the year. Pretty ho-hum offensive performance from there on out.

Things didn't go much better for the pitching staff as Ryan Edell was pounded to the tune of ten hits and six earned runs (seven total) with one walk. He went just three innings. Erik Stiller helped clan up the mess and went two scoreless, but the real story here is Omar Aguilar.

Aguilar shows some more brilliance with three scoreless innings and six strikeouts. He had the great effort against Bowie, came out and struggled against Altoona and then rebounds with Bowie. He's just a really interesting guy to watch.

Zach Putnam goes for the Aeros as they try and turn this skid around.

KINSTON

After the game was rained out Wednesday, the Kinston Indians and Wilmington played a double-header on Thursday. Kinston won the nine inning game one 7-4 and lost the seven inning game two 4-3.

Alex White probably had his roughest game as a professional going just four rounds and giving up four runs off four hits and three walks while striking out just one hitter. Matt Langwell picked up a win after one scoreless and Steve Smith picked up save number three.

Offensive support came from Jason Kipnis with a RBI and two big doubles by Adam Davis, 2 runs and Richard Martinez, 3 runs.

In game two, TJ House was sort of let down by the defense, but it was his own error that helped the two unearned runs score. He ended up going four and striking out five. Making his 2010 debut was Brett Brach, recently called up to Kinston to replace Santo Frias and things didn't go well. He gave up two runs, on unearned off two hits and a walk as he recorded just two outs.

The K-Tribe put up a three spot in the fifth inning behind another Richard Martinez RBI-hit and a two-run triple by Karexon Sanchez.

Joey Mahalic will go for Kinston as they go home to face Myrtle Beach.

LAKE COUNTY

The Captains suffered a shutout as they dropped a game and therefor their first series of the season to Great Lakes.

All five runs scored off the Caps came in the third inning off Clay Cook, who surrendered four of them as earned and one as unearned. He would end up going give giving up four hits and three walks with six punchouts.

The two Lake County hits came from a Ben Carlson double and a Jeremie Tice single.

The Captains look to rebound against Bowling Green on the road with Trey Haley pitching for Lake County.

4.22.2010

Series #5: @ Minnesota 4/20-4/22

Cleveland Indians @ Minnesota Twins
April 20th - April 22nd: 3 Game Series
Tuesday - 8:10 PM* / Wednesday - 8:10 PM* / Thursday - 1:10 PM$
*-STO #-ESPN/ESPN2 %-Fox $-MLBNetwork

The Scene
Cleveland (6-6) -  Minnesota (9-4)
Standings: 3rd AL Central (2.5 GB)
Streak: Won 4
Minnesota: Lost 1

The Latest

4/20: The Indians have sent down outfielder Michael Brantley to Triple-A Columbus due to the activation of Russell Branyan. The injured first baseman passed his test, but it ended rather early as the Indians decided to skip giving Branyan another start at first in Akron. This was most likely done to prevent having to take Brantley on the road trip just to send him back and so Branyan could just flat out fly out with the team on Monday.

4/22: The Indians look to avoid the sweep. Remember the game is on at 1 today and can be seen on MLB Network if you have it. Jhonny Peralta was moved down in the lineup yesterday because of his struggles and Manny Acta says he'll be back there when he gets out of his slump. Peralta made a good attempt to get out of it yesterday with two walks and a hit. Matt LaPorta will make his debut in left field today with Branyan getting the start at first base.

Random Notes: Shin-Soo Choo was rewarded for his blistering hot week with the AL Player of the Week award. This will be the Indians trip to the brand new Target Field, Minnesota's new open air ballpark.

Tribe Injuries
Hector Ambriz (DL)
Kerry Wood (DL)
Anthony Reyes (60DL)

*@ Minnesota Numbers are for Metrodome, not Target Field

Game 1
Justin Masterson Vs Kevin Slowey
Indians Vs Slowey
Slowey: 3-2, 5 GS, 4.06 ERA
@ Minnesota: 0-1, 1 GS, 5.40 ERA
Choo: 4/15, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K
Sizemore: 4/16, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 K
Peralta: 2/14, 1 RBI, 4 K
Branyan: 5/12, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K
Cabrera: 3/11, 2 K


Twins Vs Masterson
Masterson: 0-2, 2 GS, 5.40
@ Minnesota: 0-1, 1 GS, 9.53 ERA*
Cuddyer: 1/6, 1 RBI, 1 K
Span: 1/2, 4 BB
Kubel: 2/3, 1 RBI, 3 BB
Mauer: 3/5, 1 BB
Morneau: 1/6, 1 BB

Recap
CLE 1 | MIN 5
W - Kevin Slowey
L -Justin Masterson (0-2)
4 IP, 5 H, 5 R (2 ER), 5 BB, 6 K


Not going to lie, kind of fell asleep during this one.

Not totally, but I will admit I was kind of exhausted.

I also get put to sleep by seeing our starting pitcher walk five guys within the first four innings. Seriously what the heck? Masterson just didn't have it in this one and then the defense let him down.

Now it's crazy because the defense has been super this year, aside from three games in which one defensive play really hurt. And this one comes from a unlikely source in Asdrubal Cabrera.

Man you probably saw one of the few errors he'll make all year, but this one was bad.

Who knows what happens if Cabrera fields that ball cleanly and the double play is recorded. JJ Hardy will definitely not walk, the wild pitch doesn't happen and neither does the second error by Masterson doesn't occur.

The inning ends 1-1 and Masterson may be able to get a little deeper in the game (but who knows the way he was pitching). Still the offense didn't score.

Hafner's home run was an absolute laser shot. That's the line-drive sort of power you like to see from the guy. Other than the offense sucked. They took very few pitches (Kearns, Branyan, and Hafner saw 7, 7, and 8 pitches in the game), and struck out way too many times off a guy like Slowey who probably shouldn't be striking out nine hitters in a  game, even if he does go eight innings.

Branyan did have a hit last night in his return, but whoopee. Cabrera had two hits, but it was just a really ho-hum offensive performance. The Kearns "double" was a home run from what I could see, but I guess not? Doesn't matter in the end, but.

Slowey did pitch good though, so you tip your hat off to him. They need to bounce-back quickly though. The bullpen looked good covering the last four innings, which is a positive (Rafael Perez thank you very much) moving forward.


Game 2
David Huff Vs Francisco Liriano
Indians Vs Liriano
Liriano: 2-3, 6 GS, 4.45 ERA
@ Minnesota: 1-0, 1 GS, 0.00 ERA
Sizemore: 3/14, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K
Peralta: 4/15, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 7 K
Branyan: 1/6, 2 BB, 2 K
Hafner: 2/7, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Cabrera: 3/4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB


Twins Vs Huff
Huff: 2-2, 4 GS, 5.82 ERA
@ Minnesota: 1-1, 2 GS, 5.40 ERA*
Mauer: 6/12, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
Morneau: 4/10, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Span: 4/11, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Kubel: 2/8, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Young: 3/7, 1 BB

Recap
CLE 0 | MIN 6
W - Francisco Liriano
L - David Huff (1-2)
6 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 1 K


Here is the problem...

David Huff was way too fine in this one. He wasn't wild or out of control. He wasn't walking six like Masterson did because he couldn't get a handle on things due to eraticness.

Huff was trying to hit the corners and he'd either not get the call or simply just miss. He only gave up the three hits, one of which was a home run off a pitch way up above the zone that Cuddyer just put a good swing (or bad one, that thing looked ugly yet he still hit it out of the park), his issue was the walk.

Still, it was a good job to at least get through six, but the walks of course were Huffy's downfall in this one.

In the end though, does it really matter? Francisco Liriano had this thing on lock down.

Some of the hits he did give up, could have realistically been fielded. Then whatever bad luck caused those hits, good luck came over him. The Indians got a fine does of a good dominant pitcher and luck, which led to the shutout.

There was no getting to Liriano on this night, just not happening.

Jhonny Peralta had the best game, going 1-2 with two walks and a hit. He singled in his first at-bat and the walk he worked in his second was probably the best at-bat he had all season. Hopefully the move down to the seven hole is just what he needs to get him going.

The Indians only really had two serious threats. One came with the bases loaded and Asdrubal Cabrera up with one out. He promptly grounded out into an easy double play on the first pitch. Matt LaPorta also had an opportunity with a few on, but he struck out.

Just another ho-hum offensive let down. Better avoid the sweep.
[BOXSCORE]

Game 3
Mitch Talbot Vs Scott Baker
MLB.com Preview

Indians Vs Baker
Baker: 7-5, 15 GS, 3.14 ERA
@ Minnesota: 1-0, 1 GS, 2.57 ERA
Peralta: 11/45, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 9 K
Sizemore: 12/37, 2 BB, 7 K
Hafner: 12/31, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K
Cabrera: 3/16, 6 BB, 8 K
Choo: 3/16, 2 RBI, 6 BB, 5 K


Twins Vs Talbot
Talbot:Has never faced Minnesota
@ Minnesota: Has never played in Minnesota
Has never faced anyone on Minnesota

Recap
CLE 8 | MIN 1
W - Mitch Talbot (2-1)
6 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 3 K
L - Scott Baker

Boy did we need to see that kind of offense.

And for that to go along with that shut down pitching.

The only run that scored was because Marte dropped an easy out and Talbot ended up letting it come around to score. Only two hits in six innings, Talbot has been really good since the first few innings of the season.

And that is encouraging. Now I didn't see the game because I don't have the MLB Network on my television but he threw 57 strikes, which obviously wasn't as good as last time, but he was in a zone last time. If he can go out there and give you six or seven innings like that most nights, you'll take it.

I think you also look at Rafael Perez's outing and be encouraged, two innings no walks, just a hit. He only threw 17 pitches in the two innings and 11 of them for strikes. Perez needs to get himself right and this is a good first step.

Offensively though, talk about taking a step. Finally busting out in a big way. Not just what we saw the other day against Chicago against Floyd, but just multiple innings stringing hits together and doing what they did.

Marte obviously had the big day going 2-4 with a two-run homer and knocking in three runs. Paaaarty! Most production we've gotten out of a third baseman this season. Peralta got his normal day off, and Marte filled in nicely.

And this was real spread out in terms of the production. You had Cabrera and Sizemore at the top, with Cabrera scoring twice and Sizemore once, and also knocking one in. Choo didn't do anything today, which is awesome in a way that he didn't have to carry the team offensively to a win.

Then you've got Hafner and LaPorta in the middle each scoring a run (LaPorta scored two) and Hafner knocking one in. Branyan had a nice double today to knock in two and he also scored one. Hammy made it sound like Branyan's double was going to be a home run and he said it just missed (and it did), so you have to assume he got a lot of that ball (and he did), which is great to see him do right out of the gates.

Then of course you had Marte and then Valbuena with two doubles on the day. Just in general the doubles today, they had six, that is great. Extra base hits will get you going and when you can bang out seven, good work.

All in all this was a much needed game. Not just the win but the fact that they put everything together in this one. Three shutout innings from the pen, a good solid start, and a beefed up offensive attack.

Just what they needed before they make their West Coast swing, starting in Oakland on Friday.

[BOXSCORE]

We Owe Ya One - Series MVP
Andy Marte: 2/4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI

This is always tough when you only have one win and in the other two games you only score a grand total of one run, your defense had some bad plays, and it's just overall blah. Asdrubal had five hits in the series, but he did that whole thing with the error.

Mitch Talbot would be a candidate, and eventually a pitcher will win the Series MVP award, but today this is Andy Marte's moment.

The guy sparked the day's offense in the win. He gets the early home run and then gets himself another RBI later with a bloop hit. Give it to him, we needed that kind of production off the bench.

Looking Ahead
@ Oakland
Jake Westbrook Vs Justin Duchscherer
Fausto Carmona Vs Brett Anderson
Justin Masterson Vs Gio Gonzalez