Morning Rundown: Tribe Sink Sox in Eighth for Sixth Straight

Is there anything willing to stop this team right now? Doesn't look like it. There's just a will to win right now that's undeniable. This team is finding ways to win even when they perhaps shouldn't be. Not hard with a team like Chicago, that's going through a season-long scuffle and just one thing can snow-ball for them.

But there is something else going here. They have a lot of fight and poise in these situations where they need to come through. Luckily, they only needed two situations to come through in and they did it both times.

W: Bryan Shaw (2-2)
L: Donnie Veal (1-2)
S: Chris Perez (15)

Scott Kazmir did not have his best stuff, that was evident early. He had some command issues, but eventually was able to figure it out. He got hit a little early, but then bounced back and was able to at least give the Indians five innings. There was a time that Matt Albers was up early, like real early in the game, and you started to worry.


Indians Acquire Marc Rzepczynski

The Indians made their move for a left-handed reliever Tuesday afternoon a day before the MLB Trade Deadline passed. It wasn't who anyone thought it was, of course. After flirting with the Rockies for Josh Outman, the Indians went out and nabbed left-hander Marc Rzepczynski from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Herrera.

The lefty reliever was recently recalled to the major league squad and pitched the past two games, a scoreless frame in the seventh with a strikeout and two runs in 1.1 innings on Monday. His overall major league numbers this year look awful, having surrendered nine earned runs in 10.1 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks.

He was sent to Triple-A Memphis in April after a rough start and compiled a 3.07 ERA in 44 innings with 61 strikeouts, faring much better overall. Versus left-handers in Triple-A, Rzepczynski held hitters to a .207 average with no home runs.

Career-wise, he's held hitters to a .224 average against with just five career home runs given up to lefties. He's certainly someone who fares much better against them than right-handers.

Morning Rundown: The Big Goodbye from the Big G

As much as I would love to see the Indians win the AL Central and topple the Tigers into some shame, let's keep things in perspective. Baltimore is sitting at 58-48, five games out of the AL East. Tampa and Boston seem to be in a war for the division and thus, have a nice hold on a wild card.

Don't look now, but after taking it to Texas, the Indians are very much in the hunt for a wild card. You thought the only route to the playoffs was with the AL Central? Well, look again. The Indians are in the thick of things. If they can get to the dance by winning a chance to partake in the Wild Card playoff game, I would take it in a heartbeat.

But, that's getting ahead of things. While the Indians are just a half game back of the Orioles, they can see a division leader really close up ahead of them. And with five straight, they may be getting closer.

Somewhere, Hawk Harrelson is crying. Or, he's just not saying anything, because you know he's just a poor sport.


Morning Rundown: Baseball Smells Better in October

Out in the wilderness for the weekend and no while I could scrounge for a signal to get my Indians fix, I decided that when service wouldn't push through, I'd be in for a surprise Sunday evening upon my return.

Would it be a good one? A bad one? It wasn't on my mind much. For a bit, I even forgot who was invading Progressive Field. Then I fired up the good old internet to see a stunning headline. Ubaldo...dazzles? DAZZLES?

Then the word. Sweep. SWEEP!?

I'll let you guess what kind of surprise I thought it was.

I had an excellent weekend being incommunicado, sleeping in a tent, flying through the air attached to a wire, and spending my nights by a campfire. But as good as the fresh air smells in the morning, you know what smells the best? October baseball. Not only does it smell good, it smells like it may be closing in.


Morning Rundown: Kid K Grows Up for Tribe, Saves Series

If you are a long time reader of what I do, or at least around last year at this time, right around when the Indians started to nose dive, you may remember this. If you do, you are quite the Indians fan.

But remember the comparison of last year's losing streak to a festering wound? As gross as that might sound, when you think about it, what happened really was just that.

As frustrating as this team has been this year in situations like this past week of games, never once have I thought they had the capability of becoming the festering wound that they were last year though. Despite it all, this team won't let it fester. Just look at what happened yesterday afternoon against Seattle and in the finale against Minnesota.

Last year's team might be starting at a six-game losing streak. This year's team found a way to make something out of this situation and are now going home off a game in which they look like they cannot be stopped offensively. Just when you may think that this team is not what you were hoping for, they do what you were hoping for but didn't think they could do.


Morning Rundown: Indians Defensively Offensive in McAllister's Return

Team's get hot. You have to deal with it. Remember that schedule we touted so much? How incredibly easy it looked compared to the first half schedule?

That's all well and good, but you know you are going to run into some teams that you are supposed to beat that may be playing good enough ball. It happens, which is what is happening now in facing the Mariners. Are the Indians playing well? Not particularly, but they aren't playing horribly. They're a better team than Seattle. They're just not playing better right now.

You just have to hope at some point the Indians can make up for these losses in another way. If not, then we know what will happen.

W: Erasmo Ramirez (1-0)
L: Zach McAllister (4-6)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (23)


Morning Rundown: Stalled Offense Lacks Ubaldo Support, Drop Opener to Hot Mariners

Well if pitching ain't the problem. Then I don't know what is.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

You certainly can't blame two solo shots as reasons to lose. So you must blame an offense that has struggled and sputtered over the course of the past week since the break ended.

W: Aaron Harang (5-8)
L: Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (22)

I guess you could consider Seattle a hot team. They came into this winning six straight with a reverse record to the Tribe, so they aren't horrible. But you kind of expect more than one run off Aaron Harang and company.

They simply did not make Harang work enough. He was able to get through seven innings, barely breaking a sweat. Seattle's bullpen is the second worst in the American League and the Indians did not get a real good chance to dig into it. Something you have to do when you have an opposing team with a weak bullpen. Even Harang knew the Indians had to go with that game plan, and they still couldn't stop him.


Morning Rundown: Masterson Takes No-Hit Bid Into 7th; Tribe Say No to Garza

Len Barker is still the man. The Indians will have to wait a little longer for a no-hitter. It looked as good of a chance as the Indians have had in a long time on Sunday into seventh inning.

Photo - Getty Images via Zimbio
You have to truly be un-hittable though, with a good mix of luck, skill, defense, and who knows what else.

W: Justin Masterson (11-7)
L: Scott Diamond (5-9)

Justin Masterson did not quite have the right combo.

But for awhile, he sure looked like he could do it. That was until Matt Underwood said something.

No, not really. It was until Brian Dozier had a blooper to center. One could argue Drew Stubbs should have dove instead of slide, but that's besides the point. It is hard to make a split decision like that when you are running as hard as Stubby was.


Sunday Grazing: All-Star Kip, Carmen Electra and Jensen Lewis Edition

I know this is a bit of a somber Sunday as the Indians have come out of the break and have already lost two of those 13 games they have left with the Twins. That was not how you thought things would go. Hold tight though because Detroit has come out just as sluggish. You need to keep it into perspective.

So take this Sunday morning off and just relax. Hopefully Sunday Grazing will help you settle down and take that step back.

Sunday Grazing, a little bit of an outside the diamond look at the Cleveland Indians.


Can the Indians Sustain Success in the Second Half?

At the All-Star break last year, the Cleveland Indians sat at 44-41, three games back of the division lead. They had seemingly stayed afloat with many like to call smoke and mirrors, carrying a negative run differential and benefiting from a surprisingly sluggish Detroit Tigers squad.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

That should have been no surprise though. They did it in 2011 too, five games up, a more credible run differential with a positive four, and an impressive 27-19 home record.

We now look at this team in 2013, in a rather familiar position. A Cleveland team that is a few games up record wise, very much in the playoff hunt, and looking like a team with some promise after all.

That promise has come crashing down the past few seasons, more spectacularly in 2012 with abhorrent losing streak that effectively cost Manny Acta his job and spurred a revised plan of attack in the offseason.

We've been over that plan. That plan seems to be working.

Of course the question is now simple. Can the plan continue to work? Can this team avoid the same fate they succumbed to the previous two years? Do they have the staying power in 2013 that they didn't have in 2011 and 2012?


Site Update: Back After Break

I know it has only been less than a week since the last rundown went up, but the activity around these parts has been, sporadic. Inconsistent as well. Kind of lame.

And when I've been here, I've been pretty lame. I'll admit that too.

Well, I'm here to tell you, it looks like I'm going to cut that out.

A little bit of a site update for you folks on this final day of the official first half of the season, even though more than half of the games have been played.


Morning Rundown: Brantley Keeps Hope Alive, Saves Bullpen; Kluber Dazzles Again

Two straight losses with some big crowds. A big weekend series against the team you are battling toe-to-toe with for the division. A chance to win over some fans. A chance to put a little fear into the cats from up in the northern part of the country.

Something about game three, with an undefeated All-Star pitching Monday, felt like a win was oh so crucial. No one wants to get swept in four games. Just as they had done to the White Sox not even a week ago, the Tigers were threatened to perhaps step on the throat of the Tribe and crush them before they could even get to the All-Star break.

And then they were saved, somehow, someway. The will to win prevailed, and we can all keep our sanity and hope.

W: Cody Allen (4-1)
L: Al Alburquerque (1-2)
S: Chris Perez (9)


Sunday Grazing: Licking the Phantom Cam and Tribe All-Stars

Usually this is the day we reserve to find out the fates of all the players who have put on a good performance in the first half of the MLB season. The Sunday before the All-Star break is the day that Major League Baseball announces the rosters for this year's summer classic.

Yeah all that happened last night. So naturally, the outrage and calls of travesty all happened last night. Which gives us the perfect fodder for Sunday Grazing, because you know I like talking about All-Stars...Ugh.

Sunday Grazing, a little bit of an outside the diamond look at the Cleveland Indians.


Morning Rundown: Five and Fly, Jimenez Can't Escape; Indians Drop Series

The last time our Tribe has won eight games on a road trip was 1998. Really? 1998? That's a long time ago. Like when Jason Kipnis had the first inside the park home run on Wednesday since Jhonny Peralta in 2010. Like, that isn't anything. I remember that.

Do I remember 1998? Heck no, bro. But it looks like we're gonna have to remember it awhile longer, because Indians fell just short of that eight game win mark on Thursday as their road trip game to an end.

W: Luke Hochevar (2-1)
L: Bryan Shaw (0-2)
S: Greg Holland (19)

There was the first five innings.

And then there was the rest of the game.


Morning Rundown: Tribe Walk Their Way to Five Straight Road Wins

So this is what First Place in July feels like?

W: Cody Allen (3-0)
L: Tim Collins (2-3)
S: Chris Perez (8)

KC's Luis Mendoza should be extremely happy with his four innings and four runs. Given the way he was pitching, he should have been splattered against the wall, scrapped off, and splattered again.

Both situations in which the Indians scored against him, in the first, and then again in the fourth, could have called for more runs. To have the bases loaded with one out in the first and the fourth, and walk away having only let up four runs?


Bro of the Month: June 2013

For the past few years, we've done this little thing around the blog were we've voted for the player of the month, every month.

It had a fancy title, because Manny Acta, the former manager, wore fedoras. It was a play off the idea of the "golden sombrero" only this was something you were okay with being saddled with.

Manny Acta is now gone though, so to continue the tradition of having a Manny Acta Golden Fedora of the Month would be really, weird. And awkward.

So the search began for months after Acta's dismissal as to what would happen. Would we abandoned the concept completely? Would we choose a new person and unique trait about them to represent the award? Would we just call it Indians Player of the Month?


Morning Rundown: June Boom; Red Hot Tribe Win Again

It was brought to my attention by a follower on Twitter that the Indians started June in a rough way. After winning their first game, they dropped eight straight. Then the series against the Rangers turned around, and so did the month. After starting 1-8, they ended 14-5. Overall it looks average with a 15-13 record. But it's slightly above .500, and where the Indians sit right now is more than slightly over .500.

But guess what? They're also sharing first place as the calendar flips over to July. Three months down, three more to go. Halfway through and the Indians are in this thing. Not just in it, but in it. June Swoon? How about a June Boom.

W: Justin Masterson (4-0)
L: Chris Sale (5-7)