It's only May 14th but the Indians are at a crossroads. Where do they want to go this season? Do they want to tease us with hanging around all year or do they want to be a serious contender in the American League and for the World Series.
They got off to a better start this year instead of their normal April swoon and they still are only 1 1/2 games behind Detroit for first place in the Central Division. Paul Byrd and Fausto Carmona have been wonderful surprises. Casey Blake and Josh Barfield actually have started hitting the ball and overall the defense hasn't been as glaringly bad as 2006. It does look like the verteran influences they brought in have been a positive and calming influence on the team.
But they still are missing something that the great teams have. A killer instinct. Yesterday's game was a prime example. Two runners left on in the 1st, base left loaded in the 2nd, two runners left on in the 5th and two runners left on in the 9th. The pitching (both starting and relief) have had the habit of giving up runs the inning immediately after the Tribe takes or adds on to the league. Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner haven't been the dominating players they were last year. Jeremy Sowers looks completely lost on the mound. Cliff Lee has been up and down after coming off an injury. Jake Westbrook looked just as lost as Sowers before he went on the DL. Joe Borowski is 12 of 14 in save opportunities but he has a 9.00 ERA. Fernando Cabrera has given up walk off homers in his past two appearances after looking dominant to start. There is a lot wrong with this team.
But like I said they are still only 1 1/2 games out of first place. They've managed to hang in their despite their shortcomings. There's nothing wrong with kicking your opponent while they are down. If anything they'd have 3-4 more wins out of it.
I hope they adopt that philosophy against the hated Twins this week at The Jake.