Posts By Bob Toth
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.
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians continue their early tour of the American League East as they head to Florida to begin a three-game, weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cleveland will spend 13 of their first 16 games going up against four different teams from the East. Only a three-game series next weekend with the Chicago White Sox will break up the eastern monotony. The Indians will play 13 consecutive games before their first day off of the season on Monday, April 15.
The young Tampa Bay Rays will look to keep pace in the competitive East. Counting this series against the Indians, the Rays will play just eight of their 27 April games against teams that had fewer than 85 wins in 2012. After an off day next Thursday, they will play 17 straight games.
by Bob Toth
In front of a sellout crowd of 48,857 at the Rogers Centre, baseball finally resumed for the cities of Cleveland and Toronto. The notion of facing the knuckleball pitcher and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Dickey did not seem to intimidate the new look Indians.
Cleveland scored the first runs of the evening and of their season in the second inning with some assistance from Dickey and catcher J.P. Arencibia.
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians head north of the border for a three-game set to start the 2013 season against the new look Toronto Blue Jays.
Arguably the two most active and aggressive teams in the offseason in the American League, both organizations surprisingly spent freely throughout the winter months and are looking to impress the league with their new lineups and new (but familiar) leadership within the dugout.
After their similar offseasons, it seems only fitting that the two would face off against one another to open a second straight year.
It has been too long since there was a buzz around the Cleveland Indians. It has been a refreshing change of pace this offseason and certainly helped to provide some distraction during the winter. Over the course of the last decade and more, the Indians have sat back and watched other teams race to outspend one another to upgrade their clubs while being handcuffed by Cleveland’s small market label and the burdensome contracts of underperforming stars. This season, they did not sit idly by.
Maybe Tribe closer Chris Perez stirred up the pot enough during last season to open up the eyes of the front office brass. The team was just not going to contend amongst the best of the best in the American League without opening up the checkbook a little. Maybe the poor turn out through the turnstiles sent a compelling message. Maybe losing what remaining airtime they had on Cleveland-based sports talk radio shows to the lackluster Cleveland Browns showed them the general disinterest in the once national pastime.
Whatever the reason was, the team spent and spent a lot and appears to be all the better (and more competitive) for it. Maybe the Cleveland Indians are back again.
When the Cleveland Indians’ season officially ended last October, it left the organization with more questions than answers.
What happened? Who was to blame? How did a competitive roster carried over from the 2011 season fall apart midway through the 2012 season? Why did Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez struggle throughout the year? How could the team address the deficiencies on offense against left-handed pitching? Is this core a core worth building around, or is it time for another rebuilding process? What steps would need to be taken to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again in 2013?
All of these questions are difficult to address and even more difficult to resolve. Yet looking back on what the Indians organization has been able to do in just a few short months this offseason, it would be safe to say they have attended to some of, if not all of, the above questions. The team has retooled and now has a new brand new face to the organization. They are a team with a new direction.
The signing of Travis Hafner by the New York Yankees on Friday effectively signified an end to what should have been a period of glory and high accolades in the history of the Cleveland Indians.
Hafner was part of a collection of players who will forever be remembered in Cleveland for falling short of the lofty expectations placed upon them. After the team’s impressive run at the end of the 1990’s, Hafner and his teammates of the mid- to late-2000’s were thought to have the potential to be perennial playoff contenders, maybe even being able to reach the great heights of the World Series and bringing home the coveted World Series Championship that has eluded the city since 1948.
Instead, Hafner and his peers left the organization and its fans wondering, “what if”?