Morning Rundown: Rakin' Raburn, Walkin' Bauer, Winnin' Tribe
I may have dreamed it. Yeah I think it definitely was a dream, because this actually wouldn't happen. Somehow I remember seeing a bunch of people picking the Indians to win the division or win a wild card spot.
Because I don't remember specifics, it had to be a dream, because I don't have any names, website, television network, or news source that I saw this on. Cleveland! In the playoffs, I said. What the heck are all these people doing now on the Indians bandwagon?
|Photo - AP via Yahoo! Sports|
Maybe the tide is turning.
Or maybe I'm just crazy.
PHILLIES - 0 | INDIANS - 6
W: Trevor Bauer (1-1)
L: Cliff Lee (2-2)
Now look, fourth place has never looked so good as the Indians are just three games out of first place with their two-game sweep of the Phillies and the four straight they've pulled off. And baseball is so mish-mash right now, that the four games constitutes as baseball's hottest team. No wonder I'm dreaming, Indians fever is contagious, everyone is catching it.
Charlie Manuel put it precisely in as few words as possible. Things are going good right now.
How good? Enough to derail Cliff Lee, another former Cy Young winner, to improve their record against winners of that award to 4-1 this season.
Good enough to overcome a shaky six-walk outing by Trevor Bauer, even though he didn't give up a run and just one hit. There must be some sort of magic that overcame Bauer, because he was able to wiggle out of all instances of the trouble he put himself into.
"It was kind of interesting," Bauer said of Wednesday's effort. "Everything was working at points, but not everything all at the same time. For whatever reason, I lock in more when there's guys on base. I'm a really competitive guy. I don't like giving up runs. I need to do a better job of doing that when no one is on."
It shouldn't surprise you based off the fact that they had just three hits and no runs that they were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The only surprising thing is the fact that they had 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but that's how much traffic Bauer was dealing with.
Bauer's five innings shaped out like this: He walked two people in the first and the fifth, with the fifth being a little more shaky considering the walks came to lead off the inning. There was other traffic, including a hit in the fourth paired with another walk, and a stolen base in the third, with the second inning being the only 1-2-3 frame for the youngster.
What's interesting is Mark Reynolds not sugarcoating what it was like playing being Bauer.
"The potential is there," Reynolds said of the young pitcher. "But it's frustrating playing behind him. He's all over the place. It's hard to find a rhythm, but he gets the job done. He got it done tonight for us. Hopefully he can harness what he has and be a little more consistent throwing strikes. That will come with time. He's still young. Hopefully he gets a couple more chances up here to help us out."
As long as he gets the job done right?
I mean Reynolds has a point, it is hard playing behind a guy who does that. He isn't putting guys on base via the hit, so the defense is pretty much stagnant. With five strikeouts, six walks and just one hit, that's 11 batters to just one that are not putting the ball in play. Throw in seven more outs via groundout and flyout and that's 11-8, with four of them being flyouts, that infield defense is probably frustrated.
Thankfully, they didn't make any errors, like the Phillies did, so it all turned out well.
"We're looking to get excited, but that's real stuff," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And I think what maybe goes under the radar a little bit is how much he competes, because he's a quiet kid and doesn't say much. He really competes. I think that showed when there were runners on base."
So while the start against Tampa was a little depressing, it had much of the same stuff, only Bauer was able to buckle down when he needed it and get the outs. Not only that, his walks were a little more spread out. He still threw a lot of pitches, 93 in just five innings, but it is right in line with the 105 in five he threw against the Rays.
What's funny is that he now has just three hits surrendered in 10 innings, which is pretty good. But he also has 13 walks in 10 innings, which is downright scary. Either way, he kept the team in the game, which wasn't difficult the way the offense has been going, and eventually earned his first Indians victory, so all is well for now. He'll probably be on his way back to Columbus at this juncture as the Indians will go back to their five-man rotation with regular days ahead. But he could return in a few weeks when the Indians have a double-header scheduled for the 13th of May against the Yankees.
Plus it is more than 10 days from now, so they can send him down today without worrying about not being able to call him up on the 13th. All dependent on how Brett Myers turns out I guess.
The other story is the absolute human torch that Ryan Raburn is right now. His perfect night ended with a strikeout late in the game, but before that Raburn was 4-4 with two more RBI, a double and seven straight at-bats with a hit. He's now hitting .364 on the season and is a huge reason this offense has been able to do what they are doing without Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher.
Part of Bauer's success was also a play that Raburn made in the fourth when he made a nice catch in right field to take what was surely extra bases and perhaps a run away from Ryan Howard.
Throw in a huge night offensively and he's a one-man wrecking crew right now. Stay out of his way.
I'd also like to take this time to say that I appreciate the nicknames being thrown around, but they all sound like the true original that we've established for him. So tell your friends, it's RAKIN Raburn. Not Raging Raburn, or Rockin Raburn, or Ra-diculious Raburn. I mean, they're all pretty good, but Rakin' is the original and that's what he's doing right now.
Quietly Michael Brantley has really stepped up in Bourn's absence by being the guy in the leadoff position. He's upped his average to .302 after a 3-for-5 night with a run scored.
Asdrubal Cabrera continues to come up with some clutch hits with a huge double that scored a pair in the third to really start the scoring. He and Aviles now have 24 RBI between them. How lethal is that?
Two more hits and another walk for Carlos Santana. His .395 average, .483 on-base percentage, and 1.194 OPS lead all of baseball. He's on another level right now. He's not just elite in terms of catchers, but perhaps all players.
Both he and Mark Reynolds have led the charge in the month of April, putting up numbers the Indians haven't seen in one month in a long time.
Last year, Reynolds notes he struggled with no homers in the month of April for Baltimore. Now he and Santana are among the best in the American League in offensive numbers and early candidates at their positions for All-Star consideration.
Great outing by the bullpen, which finally got to shine with Bauer going just five innings. Bryan Shaw had some issues with a few hits and a walk, but the rest of the pen buckled down and didn't let anyone on.
Not sure how the Indians are going to handle this situation they've put themselves in with having to send Nick Hagadone down to make room for Bauer. As I mentioned, they could need another spot starter on the 13th, but they also cannot recall Hagadone for 10 days unless they place someone on the disabled list.
Considering that doesn't look to be happening anytime soon, they're in a position to where they may need to call up another reliever other than Hagadone or a position player. Tito said that they did not want to send Hagadone down, especially with how well he's been pitching and how the Indians would have two lefties in the pen if he were around.
But it is the roster bind they are in right now. If Michael Bourn were to be ready to come back, like today, it would work out pretty nicely, but that is not the case. Their 40 man options right now are very limited, but they do have Cord Phelps who they could call up until Bourn is ready to be activated. The only pitcher is Scott Barnes, but I'm not sure how that new "one day for double header" rule works in regards to the 10 day limit or if it still applies.
There is still no clear indication as to when Bourn will go out on his rehab assignment.
So where they go from here, should known soon. They could always just use Bauer out of the bullpen for the time being until they need him to start on the 13th, but I'm not really sure you'd want to do that with your prized starter. If the Indians are going to do something though, they'll do it relatively soon because of that 10 day rule.
Francona had the future of the season and beyond this season in mind in treating Nick Swisher carefully with his sore shoulder. And hey you won twice, so you were rewarded with that decision. Swisher sat out again on Wednesday, giving him three days off in a row with today's off day. He'll be back in there Friday.
Can't really argue with that logic.
The head slide into first by Jason Giambi is still getting rave reviews. And it will continue to be immortalized with this awesome GIF, which so many people have spread around.
My favorite is the helmet positioning when he stands up. He almost looks like he's a cyborg.
"My parts were going everywhere."
Brantley went as far as saying it was better than any of the seven home runs that were hit. He also went on to praise the awesome teammates Giambi has been. And how could you not feel that way? He's 42-years-old, he doesn't need to do that in a 14-2 ball game. But he did and THAT is why people respect him. He commands it, doesn't ask for it, doesn't need to ask for it or tell people to respect him. It's there, and that is huge.
And there is nothing more true than that statement right there. Francona also noted that that play showed exactly how Giambi feels about the game. He cares so much.
Finally, Bastian notes that the Indians have 23 of their 36 home runs coming from the right-side, which is just 15 behind their ENTIRE total for 2012. Wow... Did this team need some right-handed pop or what?