Posts By Bob Toth
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.
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.