Friday, June 29, 2007

Westbrook Shines, Francisco Delivers

And with that, and thanks to the hard charging Twins steamrolling the Tigers, the Tribe regains first place over the Tigers by 1/2 games.

Despite struggling again on offense, (can we PLEASE cut down on the strikeouts) the Indians managed to top the Devil Rays, 2-1, in the opening game of a four game set at Jacobs Field. The great thing to see was Jake Westbrook's 7 inning, 5 hit, 1 run, 2 walk, 7!?! strikeout performance in his second start after coming off the Disabled List. Jake worked out of a bases loaded, 1 out jam in the first and gave up a run in a shaky second, but was lights out from then on. Unfortunately the Tribe offense was dormant and he was blocked out from picking up the win. That went to closer Joe Borowski who pitched a harmless ninth, and for the first time I can remember, came through in a NON-save situation.

The Indians won on a walk off home run by Ben Francisco, the first batter reliever Shawn Camp faced in the bottom of the 9th. The dinger was Francisco's first in the Majors and was the capper to a night in which he slapped his first major league hit to RF in the 4th inning.

Even with the slumbering offense the Tribe appears to get a little more of their moxie back which they seemed to rediscover after taking 3 of 4 from Oakland. A good sign after looking dead in Washington, DC against the lowly Nationals. The Indians MUST stop playing down to their opponents and a sweep of the D-Rays prior to heading to Detroit would be nice.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

3 Outta 4 Ain't Bad

Well, it wasn't easy or pretty, but the Tribe managed to come through when they needed it most and take three out of four games from the A's after a 4-3 come from behind victory this afternoon at The Jake.

Other than Fausto Carmona lasting an inning plus three more solid outings from C. C., Cliff Lee and Paul Byrd. C. C. had one bad inning and was dominant in the series opener on Monday, notching Win #11 on the campaign. Lee and Byrd did not pitch brilliantly but solid enough to allow the Indians to hang around and notch two come from behind victories via a pair of three run home runs. Team Rafael (Betancourt and Perez) continue to be blinding, brilliant lights from heaven (or the bullpen) and Joe Borowski managed to weasel his way out of a sticky situation in the 9th inning of today's game to notch his 22nd save.

On the offensive front, hopefully a good omen as both Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko have shown signs of life during what have been horrible, horrible Junes for both. Jason Michaels continues to impress with today's 3-run bomb to win it and a key PH double on Monday night. I am still not sold on him as an everyday player but he has taken advantage of the Dellucci injury and you can not knock his defense despite his minor brain cramp in the 9th today. Franklin Guitierrez showed a little more pop in his bat but still needs to show more consistency at the plate and get his OBP up. And what can you say about Kelly Shoppach? The PH 3 run JACK to win it on Tuesday (and he laid down a sacrifice bunt today) and I love the way he calls a game. If anything good came out of the Pronk/Garko June swoon it may be the fact that we got to see what Kelly Shoppach can do and so far, I like it.

The Tribe stands at 13-13 for the month of June which is incredible with how God awful they have played this month. They open a 3 game set with the putrid D-Rays tomorrow so lets hope they make it 15-13 heading into July and the All-Star Break. Let's be positive people. They sit sit only 1/2 game out of first and there is still a ton of baseball left to be played.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

DC Disappointment

I actually paid money to watch this in person?!?

In what I can only describe as putrid, embarrassing, upsetting and stomach churning, the Indians managed to score 6 total runs and lose the final Interleague series of the year, 2-1, to the hapless Washington Nationals, a team who experts predicted at the beginning of the year could challenge for the MLB record for losses in a season. The Indians put up 1, 4 and 1 runs against the Nats powerful starting rotation of Micah Bowie, Matt Chico and Jason Simontacchi. This put the Indians at an even 9-9 in Interleague play when almost every other American League team put up a winning record.

On the bright side Grady Sizemore is Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez is Victor Martinez. Fausto Carmona, Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook all had average to above average outings especially when compared as to how they have fared recently. And the bullpen despite a few jambs actually pitched pretty well. But that is not saying much going up against a Nationals team who is dead last in nearly every offensive category and has used 9 different starting pitchers this year. Remember this is a Nats team who was just swept by the Tigers in 3 games by a combined margin of 32-13.

The worst thing is that the Tribe looked completely like a team that did not want to be in the Nation's Capital playing baseball. Aside for Sizemore and Josh Barfield it definitely looked as if the Indians thought they could just show up and the Nats would hand them 3 games. Despite their poor record, the Nats do come to play every night and Manager Manny Acta doesn't tolerate a lack of effort. Now I thought that was Uncle Eric's strength, motivation. He may need some work on this in game managing but I thought his M. O. was getting the most out of his players. If that's the case, the Cleveland Indians are in trouble. The Indians can lose and I can deal with it, but I was embarrassed at the way they played this weekend. With the Tigers peaking right now, the Tribe is in serious trouble if they can't get out of this funk they are in.

The return home for a seven game home stand against Oakland and Tampa Bay before headed to Detroit and Toronto to close out the first half of the season. Let's hope they can right the ship before the All-Star Break.