Breaking news: For the past two nights, Indian’s pitchers have made a radical improvement across the board. Giving up 0 home runs, 0 walks, and exactly 0 hits, they've gone from worthless pieces of…wait, what’s that? Oh, we haven’t seen a live Indian’s game since Tuesday? Oh…well then…please disregard that previous message, boys and girls. We return to our normal broadcasting schedule.
After those deflating losses in Tampa, our heroic Tribe returned home for the first time this season. The majesty of that first home game was as fresh as spring dew on crisp morning. Fans of all ages fell in love again with the magic that one can only feel being at the ballpark at your team’s sold out home opener. From the first “play ball!” from that five year old kid, to the first taste of that succulent hot dog doused with Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard, everything seems grandiose and magnificent. And just like that, everything that was lovely was ripped from our hearts and smashed into the cold, hard ground. Every time you glace at the scoreboard, you see hit after hit, run after run, and it’s not for your team. With a tear in your eye you realize the cold, hard truth of the matter…it’s just one game.
Dropping the home opener stinks. You want everything to go perfectly, and it never does. Perez blows the save. Ubaldo tosses underhand to Travis Hafner for a “Welcome back, Pronk” home run. These things seemingly suck all the positivity right out of the fan base, but folks, it’s just one game. We knew back in January that this month was going to be a toughie for Cleveland and so far, we've been right. I understand the frustrations with the rotation and the concern for our lack of consistency for our offense, I really do. I’m right there with you. I was throwing foam bricks at Carlos Carrasco and politely asking him what his malfunction is through my television. But hey, let’s stay positive here and focus on our upcoming series against those pale hose from the windy city.
Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
At Progressive Field, April 12-14, 2013
First pitch: 7:07pm EST
First pitch: 4:05pm EST
First pitch: 1:05pm EST
The pilot grabs one saying, “I have to explain what went wrong,” and jumps out of the plane.
The White Sox fan grabs another saying, “We might win this year,” and jumps.
The priest looks at the boy scout and says, “You take the last one.”
The boy replies, “We can each have one. That White Sox fan stole my backpack.”
Quintana is a young up and comer in the majors, this being only his second season. The young gun has five pitches in his repertoire, but relies heavily on his 91 mph four-seam fastball and his 88 mph cutter. He tends to throw a lot of first pitch fastballs to both lefties and righties, but will lay off the heater if he gets ahead of the batter. Last season, Quintana posted a respectable 3.76 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. His career stats against current Indians are literally hit and miss. Asdrubal Cabrera (four at bats), Jason Kipnis (5 AB), and Carlos Santana (5 AB) have the most exposure to Quintana and have posted .250, .200, and .000 batting averages, respectively.
Chris freakin’ Sale. This guy is a pitching machine who plays for one of our biggest division rivals, which makes him one of the elite bad guys. If the Tribe is the Super Friends, Chris Sale is one of the head honchos of the Legion of Doom. His tools of the trade include a scorching 94 mph fastball, an 84 mph changeup, a wicked sinker that sits in the lower 90s, and his go-to strikeout pitch, an 80 mph slider. Expect to see a heavy dose of that slider too, with the way the Tribe hitters have been striking out. The team has 69 strikeouts, led by Drew Stubbs with 12 (41% of the time) and Kipnis with 10 (32%). So far in the young 2013 season, Sale has posted a 1.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts, 12 hits, and only three earned runs in 14 innings. In 2012, this southpaw was fourth in the American League with a 3.05 ERA, fourth in wins at 17, ninth in strikeouts with 192, fifth in WHIP with 1.14, and sixth in batting average against with .235. Yikes, right? Want some Tribe batters vs Sale stats? If you want to hold onto a sliver of hope that this game is even remotely winnable, I suggest moving on without finishing this paragraph. If you’re a daring soul, let’s have some fun. In 77 team at bats, the current Tribe have a .208/.282/.325 stat line against Sale. Johnny Damon’s stat line in 2012 was .222/.281/.329 in 64 AB. Against Sale, we’re the Johnny Damon’s of the AL Central. Sale has recorded 15 strikeouts in his career against the Tribe, eight walks, and only Ryan Raburn can claim a home run.
Jake Peavy is a familiar foe for our featured feathered friends (take that, alliteration!). In 66 1/3 innings against Cleveland, Peavy has a 4-3 record with 55 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.21. Our current team has racked up 120 AB against the righty, putting up a whopping .175/.198/.325 stat line with 35 strikeouts, four walks, and 21 hits. So in other words, we're garbage when facing this guy. Following a rough 2011 season plagued with injuries, Peavy stormed back and had one heck of a 2012 pitching two consecutive complete games and shut out the Oakland Athletics. Joliet Jake’s 3.37 ERA was the ninth lowest in the AL in 2012 and his 194 strikeouts earned him the eight spot.
On the offensive side of the coin, the Sox have been…adequate. Their record stands at 4-5, but those four wins can be attributed to an abundance of home runs and solid pitching out of their starters. They took two games away from the Royals, a 1-0 opening day win with a Tyler Flowers homer and Chris Sale on the bump, and a 5-2 win with four home runs and Peavy pitching. The other two wins came at the Seattle Mariners’ expense, and guess what? In those games, the Pale Hose tallied another four moonshots. Alex Rios is starting the season on fire, batting .419 with a .471 on base percentage along with three stolen bases and four home runs. Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham will be out for approximately six weeks with a fracture of his hamate bone in his wrist, which is good news for the Tribe as Jeff Keppinger will more than likely step in as Chicago’s starting second baseman. Keppinger is starting off on the cold end of the spectrum, hitting .133 in 30 AB.
With the Tribe coming off that terrible two game series with the Yanks, this could be the weekend our boys get back on the warpath. We have some tough match ups with Sale and Peavy, but our offense seems to ignite when we face tougher pitchers (I.E. 2012 Cy Young winners R.A. Dickey and David Price). On the flip-side, our pitching staff has been almost as foul as the second stall in the men’s bathroom near the 553 section of Progressive Field. What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Next time you’re up at a Tribe game, take a peak. But heed this warning: once you see it, you can never un-see it.
The Wahoos were granted a few extra days of rest thanks to Mother Nature and the ChiSox are coming off getting swept by a strong Washington team. So I think it’s safe to say that the Fresher Legs award goes to Cleveland. When it comes to pitching, advantage Chicago. But we have a leg up on the stockings when it comes to offensive versatility. Problem is, our offense needs to stop being so…offensive.
Justin Johnston is a contributing writer to The Tribe Daily. You can follow him on Twitter @WahooJay.