Posts By Bob Toth
The average pitcher does not return from the hardships that Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Scott Kazmir has seen over the last few years.
Kazmir went from being one of the more feared left-handed pitchers in all of baseball to being out of the game altogether, just two seasons after starting Game 1 and Game 5 of the 2008 World Series for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Kazmir had it all.
A battle between two of the top offenses in the American League was won by the Detroit Tigers Friday night, as they defeated the Cleveland Indians in the first of 19 meetings between the two clubs on the season, 10-4.
Detroit erupted for 15 hits and plated ten runs on the night, due in part to a shaky start by Cleveland starting pitcher Corey Kluber. The Tigers entered the game leading all of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage and had two of the top six hitters in the AL.
Eyes will be on the Motor City this weekend for a key American League Central matchup between the Tigers of Detroit and the Indians of Cleveland. The series will pair up the number one and two run differential teams in the AL.
The Indians (18-14) have quietly become baseball’s hottest team. After ending their six-game winning streak on Sunday, they immediately ripped off a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics, by no means an easy task. Respect is starting to slowly pour in nationally, as Cleveland jumped ten spots in Sports Illustrated’s MLB Power Rankings to third, the largest move of the week for any of the 30 teams in the league. Leading all of baseball in slugging percentage (.475) and home runs (49) certainly has not hurt their cause.
After winning five straight and nine of ten, the Tigers (19-13) lost a pair of close games to the Washington Nationals after weather claimed the opener of the series. They enter play against the Indians this weekend with the league’s best team batting average and on-base percentage and have two of the league’s top six hitters in Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter. They have the best team ERA amongst starting pitchers in the AL at 3.17.
Major League Baseball’s top scoring team brings its offensive show on the road to Cleveland, as the Oakland Athletics take on the upstart Indians in a four-game series this week.
The A’s (18-14) have cooled off after starting the season 12-4. While Oakland has dominated their AL West rivals, winning 13 of 16 matchups so far, they have struggled against the rest of the league. Their offense has remained productive throughout, as the team continues to be among the American League leaders this season in runs, walks, and runs batted in. They enter their series with Cleveland leading the MLB in runs scored with 171 through their first 32 games.
The Indians (14-14) saw their six-game winning streak end Sunday at the expense of Mike Pelfrey. During their winning streak, they outscored the opposition, 53-14, and had two shutouts. They were able to earn a split against Kansas City and to claim both series against Philadelphia and Minnesota during the week.
It seems like with each win, the Cleveland Indians have a new hero to celebrate.
Saturday’s win went to Scott Kazmir. He won his first game of the season and his first start since September 19th, 2010, with six impressive innings on the afternoon. After working out of a jam in the second inning, he faced just one over the minimum the rest of his day, allowing two hits and a run. He struck out four straight batters at one point and struck out seven on the day. He was able to settle in because his offense continued to do something it had struggled to do earlier in the season – consistently get runners on base and drive them in.
During the Indians’ winning streak, a new hero has emerged almost every night.
Scott Kazmir won his first start since September 19th, 2010 with six strong innings and the Indians offense continued to slug away, as Cleveland defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-3.
The Indians have now won six straight games and have moved above the .500 mark at 14-13 on the season. They improved to 6-6 at home. It marks the longest winning streak for Cleveland since winning seven straight from April 26th to May 3rd, 2011. They have now scored six runs or more in six straight games, the first time the team has accomplished this feat since September 18th to 24th, 2005 (when the team won seven straight).
They have scored 53 runs now in their current six game winning streak.
It took ten innings, but Cleveland walked off a winner on Friday night thanks to a one-out double off of the wall in left field by Drew Stubbs, as the Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-6.
Mike Aviles led off the bottom of the tenth with a single to right field. Ezequiel Carrera, just added to the club, dropped down a sacrifice bunt pinch-hitting for pitcher Chris Perez. Stubbs took the second pitch he saw from Twins reliever Casey Fien (1-2) and lined it high off the wall in left to score Aviles with the winning run.
The Minnesota Twins make their first of three different appearances to Progressive Field this season starting Friday evening with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians.
The Twins pulled back to even on the season by taking the final game of their series in Detroit against the Tigers. They are in the middle of a difficult road trip between Detroit, Cleveland, and then Boston, before returning home for nine games.
The Indians’ bats are alive and well and have supplied the starting pitching, which has been much improved in recent days, with ample run support as the team resumes its current nine-game home stand. Cleveland and Minnesota will still play 16 more games against one another after the completion of this series.
Interleague play comes to Cleveland for the first time this season as the Philadelphia Phillies make a quick stop to Progressive Field for a pair of games against the Indians.
The Phillies come to town on a three game winning streak. They have played very streaky baseball so far this season – prior to their sweep of the Mets over the weekend, they dropped three of four against the Pittsburgh Pirates, split a series two games apiece with the St. Louis Cardinals, and were swept in three games by the Cincinnati Reds. They have won just three of their eight series on the season, winning two sets from the Mets and one from the Miami Marlins.
The Indians return home after a scheduled ten-game road trip that was shortened a day in Chicago due to inclement weather. Unusual heroes – Mike Aviles, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ryan Raburn – assisted Cleveland in coming home with a winning 5-4 record on their road trip.
Both managers (Terry Francona and Charlie Manuel) will face off against the organizations they began their managerial careers with. Francona managed in Philadelphia for four years starting in 1997. Manuel led Cleveland for two and a half seasons, starting in 2000.
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.