Posts By Bob Toth
While much of the country watched closely as their favorite NFL teams stocked up this weekend on new prospects who could pay immediate dividends on their respective football teams, it is easy to lose track of players and drafts in Major League Baseball due to the expansive minor league system utilized in the sport.
It has been five years now since the drafting of the class of 2008. One of the more intriguing players to watch for the Cleveland Indians from that class this season will be Lonnie Chisenhall.
The former first round pick (29th overall) in that 2008 draft, Chisenhall made his first Opening Day roster for the Indians this season, after appearing at the major league level in each of the previous two years. He was given the starting nod after the team parted ways with Jack Hannahan after the completion of the 2012 season. Hannahan had been presumably keeping the seat warm at the hot corner for Chisenhall for the last two years.
Chisenhall is one of several players worthy of note in the Cleveland organization that has ties to the 2008 draft class.
Ervin Santana continued his hot start to the season, quieting the Indians offense and striking out five on the way to a 3-2 final at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Saturday night.
The Royals started the scoring on the evening in the bottom of the second. Outfielder Jeff Francoeur drew a leadoff walk after falling behind in the count early, 1-2, against Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir. Salvador Perez made Kazmir pay, driving a fastball down the right field line for a two-run home run.
It was the first of the year for Perez and the third homer allowed by the Indians starter.
The first place Kansas City Royals, fresh off of a split in Detroit to end an eight-game road trip, welcome the Cleveland Indians to Kauffman Stadium for a four-game wraparound series this weekend.
The Indians are on the final leg of a road trip that featured ten scheduled games in eleven days. Cleveland fell to 6-5 on the road on the season after losing their series finale against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon.
The Indians are the last of the AL Central foes to face off against the Royals this season. Kansas City returns home for their longest home stand of the season, playing ten straight games in their friendly confines. They will play another ten-game home series in August. They are 4-2 at home this year.
The Chicago White Sox continue their ten-game home stand as they welcome the Cleveland Indians into town for a three-game series.
The Indians are on a lengthy road trip of their own, as they are in the middle series of three straight road pairings. Cleveland’s bats woke up in the middle game against the Houston Astros over the weekend, ending a five game losing skid that saw the offense score just eleven runs.
Chicago has won just three of their last ten games and is in the midst of a three game losing streak of their own. They are 4-4 at home on the season but have dropped two straight games at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Cleveland Indians offense erupted for 19 runs on Saturday night against the Houston Astros.
It was a sight for sore eyes for Indians fans who had watched the team scrape together just eleven runs over the course of the week and just 22 runs over the previous eleven days. It was the largest offensive output by an Indians team since May 16, 2011, when Cleveland defeated the Royals, 19-1, in Kansas City.
Despite Saturday’s surprising results at the plate, the Indians offense has displayed some disconcerting efforts and tendencies so far this season, including long scoring droughts between large scoring outbursts. The 19 runs produced Saturday night accounted for 25.3% of the Indians scoring for the entire season so far and increased their runs per game average nearly one full run.
What has made the slow start much more troublesome is that it was believed that Cleveland would be more consistent and better overall in the batter’s box and that the bats could potentially become one of the strengths of the team. The offense was thought to be able to provide the pitching staff with a little bit of cushion in the event that the rotation was not quite up to par.
The pitching staff has lived up to that expectation.
There is no better time than the present for the Cleveland Indians to get out of town. They head to Houston to take on the newest member of the American League, the Astros, in a three-game series starting Friday night.
The bipolar Indians team is mirroring the weather of northeast Ohio. The offense is stellar one day, hitting on all cylinders and lulling fans into a false sense of comfort before the next storm blows in and blanks the starting nine. Just as unpredictable, the starting rotation has been hit or miss (but mainly hit after hit for the opposition).
Houston may be just as happy to have a change in scenery. The Astros, sporting the AL’s longest active losing streak, dropped two of three in Los Angeles against the Angels and were swept in Oakland by the Athletics. Cleveland will be the first opponent they face outside of the AL West.
In the grand scope of human existence, we are sometimes reminded in the most horrifying and reprehensible ways that there are more important things than sports. The tragic and deplorable events that transpired Monday afternoon in Boston are a prime example. We turn to baseball now to provide temporary relief and distraction from the grim reminder that the world in which we live can be oftentimes too short and too violent.
With heavy hearts, the Boston Red Sox are in Cleveland for a three-game midweek matchup. The series will mark the first time that they will oppose the manager who helped end their 86-year World Series championship drought, Terry Francona.
Cleveland enjoyed its first scheduled day off of the season on Monday, and the timing could not have been better, as the team has fought injuries to several key contributors on offense. Boston will become the fourth American League East team they have played in the season’s first five series.
It is only April.
The weather across the country has been inconsistent at best. Players are acclimating to new managers, coaches, and teammates on their respective rosters. Some players are still just finally getting into game shape.
Ten games is hardly a large enough sample size to truly assess players, especially with no scheduled days off and the unpredictable weather dumping across the Great Lakes region.
Despite these factors, several key bats in the Cleveland Indians lineup have failed to produce, and the lack of consistency on offense has hurt the team and the pitching staff. How long should manager Terry Francona wait before making a move or a series of moves to illicit more production from an inconsistent lineup?
Justin Masterson blanked Chicago for nine innings and Nick Swisher drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cleveland Indians a much needed victory over the White Sox, 1-0.
After the Indians mustered just one hit through the first eight innings, Michael Bourn squeezed a one-out double down the left field line off of White Sox reliever Jesse Crain (0-1). Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to second, moving Bourn to third.
Jason Kipnis, who in his previous at bat lined out hard to right field, took several pitches before being intentionally walked to bring up Swisher. First pitch swinging, the Tribe first baseman singled just inside the right field line to score Bourn with the “Awesome Amazingness” walkoff base knock.
Two slumping American League Central teams will meet in downtown Cleveland and, unless Mother Nature continues to interfere, at least one of these teams will break their losing ways.
The Chicago White Sox are in the middle of a ten game road trip that got off to a rough start against the Washington Nationals during the week. After beginning the season with two off days in the first eight days, they have an awful span of 20 straight days with a game. They have yet to win a road game so far this season and return home in a week to begin a span of ten days of home cooking.
The Cleveland Indians were washed out of a pair of games in a four-game home series against the New York Yankees. The Indians are in the middle of what was supposed to be ten games in eleven days at home after starting the season with six on the road.
A beat up New York Yankees squad heads to Cleveland to take on the Indians for four games to open Progressive Field for the 2013 season.
New York is in the middle of a seven-game road trip. They opened the season at home against the rival Boston Red Sox before playing three in Detroit against the Tigers. Cleveland returns home after spending their first six games of the season on the road against American League East opponents. They will continue on the eastern front, but will at least have home field advantage for this series.
It will be the sixth time in 113 opportunities that the Yankees open the Indians’ home field. The Yankees hold a 3-2 edge all-time. Both teams come to Cleveland after winning their Sunday matchups via shutouts.
Despite the long histories of the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees organizations, the two teams have not opened many seasons against one another on the shores of Lake Erie.
In fact, with 112 home openers under its belt, the city of Cleveland has seen the Yankees occupy the opposing dugout just five total times to open their park. It was not until the Indians’ 75th anniversary season that New York came to town to open the home of the Tribe for the first time.
Seventeen years have passed since their last such visit. This year will end the drought as Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda are scheduled to face off on Monday afternoon as the revamped Indians lineup looks to capitalize on a Yankees roster depleted of many of its most productive and veteran ball players.
The last time the Yankees opened the Indians home schedule, Derek Jeter was a rookie.