Thursday, July 5, 2007

Motor City Sh!tty

After trading punches Tuesday and Wednesday with the division rival Detroit Tigers, the Tigers essentially mopped the floor with the Tribe beating them up 12-3 to take the series 2 games to 1 and move within one game of the AL Central lead with 3 games to go before the All-Star Break.

C. C. Sabathia, in his last start before the All-Star Game, gave up 7 runs and 10 hits in only 4 innings for the Indians as the game was over by the third inning when Carlos Guillen hit a 3 run homer run off Sabathia and was out of reach when Gary Sheffield hit a 3 run shot in the fourth. Sabathia who did not have his "A" stuff today looked over matched throughout the entire contest.

The question is, was the game an aberration or will the Tigers use it as momentum going into the second half of the season? The first two games were highly competitive with the Indians catching a couple breaks and coming through in the clutch to win in 11 innings Tuesday The Tigers turned the tables in winning Wednesday night's affair. The Tribe still leads the season series 6-4 with 9 games to play.

If anything the series added a little fire to the rivalry as the Tigers seemed to cry foul on every little nuance. Whether getting Rafael Betancourt called for automatic balls for pitching too slowly or Ivan Rodriguez whining about where Travis Hafner stands in the batter's box every time up, the Motor City Kitties seem to be even less likable than their neighbors the Detroit Pistons. Just another reason to hate Michigan and that's fine by me.

The Indians head North of the border to take on the Blue Jays in Toronto for a 3 game set in Canada to finish off the first half. A sweep against the sub-.500 Jays would be nice. The Indians swept Toronto in a 3 game series earlier in the year at Jacobs Field.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Halfway Home

49-32 - First Place American League Central
30-12 at home at Jacobs Field (and Milwaukee)
434 Runs Scored - 2nd in MLB
24 Saves - T-5th in MLB
3 All-Stars - (Martinez, Sabathia, Sizemore)

Now if you would have told any Cleveland Indians fan before the 2007 season that you knew that this is where the the Tribe would be after 81 games, two things would have been true: you were full of sh!t and any true Indians fan would have gladly accepted this position.

But the tone around the fan base is one of pessimism, not optimism. There is talk of the lack of prodcution from the veteran OFs (Dellucci and Nixon) signed in the off season. There are rumblings about the need of a RH power bat in the middle of the line-up. Many are worried about the lack of clutching hitting and daily production from the team, especially Travis Hafner. And there is concern over some of the young arms in the bullpen (Cabrera, Mastny, Mujica) not living up to expectations.

But despite this, the Indians remain on top of the AL Central, less than two games removed from the best record in baseball. Yes, you read that right, less than two games removed from the best record in baseball.

I prefer to look at it this way. This is where the Indians sit DESPITE the issues they have had the first half of the season. Imagine the offense when Travis Hafner awakens, and he will, from his June slumber. We've gotten a glimpse of the Indians starting pitching staff this past week when they are at full strength and hitting their spots. The Indians were 17 GAMES BEHIND after 81 games last year... SEVENTEEN! Under Uncle Eric they have historically been a notorious second half team. In 2007 they aren't starting the second half needing to make a hard charge. Instead they need to maintain and hold off the Tigers and the hard charging Twins.

I'm not saying the Indians are the best team in baseball. I'm not saying that they are a mortal lock for anything. All I'm saying is that right now, despite all of their faults, they are in 1st place, somewhere they haven't seen for quite a few years.

And, IMHO, that's pretty damn good.