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The Cleveland Indians will play host to their first American League East opponent of the season this weekend as the Toronto Blue Jays come into town for a three-game series.
Toronto (8-8) dropped two of three games against the Minnesota Twins this week. They claimed the opener, 9-3, on Tuesday as the Jays erupted for five runs in the sixth inning and tacked on four more insurance runs in the ninth. Wednesday’s game was postponed due to weather problems and made up as part of a doubleheader on Thursday. Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson paced the Twins to a 7-0 shutout in the day’s first game with eight scoreless innings on the mound. A monumental eighth inning collapse by Toronto in the second game, which included three run-scoring wild pitches, eight walks, one hit, and six runs scored, handed Minnesota the doubleheader sweep, 9-5.
Cleveland (7-8) got a second day off as their third consecutive Tuesday game was postponed by Mother Nature, shortening their three game set at Comerica Park in Detroit to a brief two-gamer. The Indians won Wednesday 3-2 behind six strong innings from Zach McAllister and two runs driven in by catcher Yan Gomes. The Tribe fell back below the .500 mark on Thursday as Justin Verlander outlasted Danny Salazar, despite short outings from each starter. Ian Kinsler and Michael Brantley each had four RBI on the afternoon. Lonnie Chisenhall was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate as he continues to make a case for his stay on the roster.
Alfredo Griffin was not a great player, nor was he anything close to a Hall of Famer. However, he had a career that would make many baseball players jealous.
The former Major League shortstop spent parts of 18 seasons in the big leagues, collecting a Rookie of the Year honor, a trip to an All-Star game and a Gold Glove award. He also won three World Series rings before his career was over. Most of Griffin’s work was done with the Blue Jays, Athletics and Dodgers. However, before amassing any of his hardware, Griffin spent 31 games with the Cleveland Indians.
It was the Tribe that ushered Griffin into the majors. The team signed him as an amateur free agent in 1973 when he was all of 15 years old. Griffin shot up through Cleveland’s farm system and was wearing and Indians uniform at the tender age of 18. He made his debut on September 4, 1976 and played in 12 games. He knocked his first of what would be 1,688 career hits during the late-season call up.
A quick preseason glance at the Cleveland Indians 2014 schedule gave an indication that the team had a good shot of getting out of the gates quickly this season.
After starting the year visiting the defending American League West champion Oakland Athletics, the Tribe had three consecutive series against clubs that came nowhere near the postseason last year. Two of those sets were against the White Sox and Twins, whom the Indians owned last season.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander has started an All-Star Game, won a Cy Young Award and MVP trophy. He is considered one of the top pitchers in the game. Indians starter Danny Salazar hopes to get to that level, eventually.
By all accounts, Salazar has the stuff and potential to be a front-of-the-line ace at some point. The-24-year-old, who has less than one year of Major League service time, went toe-to-toe for four innings with Verlander in Thursday afternoon’s game in Detroit. In fact, he outpitched the Tigers’ ace during those initial four stanzas.
Reconstructive elbow surgery can be a career-altering situation for a player to endure. However, for right-handed pitcher Robbie Aviles, reconstructive elbow surgery turned into the beginning of his professional baseball adventure.
A high-level prospect in the 2010 draft, Aviles suffered elbow trouble toward the end of his 2010 high school baseball season, causing his stock as a prospect to drop. However, the Indians took Aviles in the seventh round of the draft, offering him not only an opportunity to play baseball, but also the opportunity for the surgery needed to repair his right elbow UCL. Despite not being able to play until the 2011 season, the Indians saw long-term potential in Aviles, choosing to help repair his damage rather than seeing it as a deterrent that would hinder his future playing abilities.
He was the Cleveland Indians’ First Round draft pick in 2008. He boasts a career .305 batting average with the AAA Columbus Clippers and a .374 OBP in that same level. However, Lonnie Chisenhall’s advancements at the minor league level have yet to permanently transpose themselves to Major League success.
Chisenhall’s history with the Indians, as earlier documented here by Mike Brandyberry, has been clouded by missed opportunities and an inability to seize the options which he’s been given. This season has started off no differently – once Carlos Santana approached the Indians about playing third base after Yan Gomes was acknowledge to be the starting catcher, Chisenhall was relegated to be a back-up for Santana.
However, Chisenhall’s current (albeit undefined) role with the Tribe did not come from lack of trying. During Spring Training this season, Chisenhall hit .306 with a .386 OBP. He had 19 hits, one double, two triples and three home runs. He had 33 total bases through the spring and drove in nine runs, while walking seven times and striking out 14 times in 62 at-bats.
The Indians couldn’t muster a whole lot of offense Wednesday night against the Tigers, but what they had was enough.
Yan Gomes’ two-run triple off Anibal Sanchez in the top of the second inning made the difference in a 3-2 Indians win on a chilly night at Comerica Park. The win brings the Indians back to .500 at 7-7.
Anibal Sanchez, last year’s ERA champion, got into trouble early on, walking the bases loaded to start the game. But a double play grounder by Jason Kipnis plated Michael Bourn, and Sanchez was able to escape the inning with no further damage. Bourn, making his debut after beginning the season on the disabled list, went 0-for-3 with a run scored. To make room for Bourn on the roster, Nyjer Morgan was sent down to Triple-A Columbus.
It does not seem to matter if the Cleveland Indians are at home or on the road, Mother Nature refuses to let the team play baseball on Tuesdays.
The first game in the series between the Indians and Detroit Tigers in the Motor City was cancelled due to snow and cold temperatures on Tuesday. Mercifully, a doubleheader for the third consecutive week to start the season was not in the cards and the game will be replayed at a date to be decided later on this season.
Even with the shortened series, games in mid-April rarely have the significance that the Indians matchup this week with the Tigers has. After finishing last season 4-15 against Detroit, the Indians will look to get off to a better start this season against their chief division rival. They are just 2-5 within the American League Central Division so far in 2014.