Posts By Mike Brandyberry
After a surprising 2013 Cleveland Indians season the organization has higher expectations for 2014 than any season dating back to 2008. The Indians and their fans will expect a playoff team and World Series contender. For the month of October, we’ll look at the how the Indians became a contender, but most importantly, How Do the Indians Reach the Next Level?
Most players with 92 career games played and just 187 plate appearances don’t usually have roles for the next season. And while Matt Carson may not have a guaranteed spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster for 2014, it appears the Indians may have a role that perfectly fits him.
Nap Lajoie was born on this day. Lajoie was a premier second baseman in the big leagues for 21 seasons, including 13 with the Cleveland Indians. He earned 3,242 career base hits and 2,046 with the Indians. The franchise was …
There is usually more than one moment before an ace is crowned for a pitching staff, but yesterday, Danny Salazar had one of those moments. Better yet, it wasn’t his first.
Yesterday, Salazar kept the Detroit Tigers—the best offense in the American League—off balance for six strong innings in a game the Indians desperately needed to win. He allowed just six hits, while not walking a hitter and striking out five. He matched Detroit starter Justin Verlander, pitch-for-pitch all afternoon.
Mike Aviles broke open a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth inning with a grand slam to left and the Cleveland Indians held on to shut out the Detroit Tigers by a 4-0 final on Sunday afternoon.
For two teams who have had suspect bullpens throughout the course of the season, the ending seemed fitting after an impressively pitched game between an emerging star and a grizzled veteran.
Cleveland needs a winner.
Cleveland sports fans are unique in many ways, loyal to their teams when most fans would have abandoned ship a long time ago. The town has not had a playoff team in any sport since 2010 and hosts a generation of heartache for most fans that dates back to the early 1980s. It seems ESPN and other sports networks have Cleveland’s pain saved in their reels and ready to press play as soon as it becomes applicable again.
But there was a time when Cleveland was on top of the sports world. The major markets weren’t quite good enough to take down Cleveland in hockey, football or baseball, and the city held championships in each sport.
The year was 1948.
With Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera sidelined with an abdomen injury, it appeared the Indians stood to catch a break in what has been a tumultuous and disappointing road trip.
However, it was Omar Infante who supplied all the offense and power the Tigers would need to send Cleveland to a 10-5 defeat Saturday night at Comerica Park. Infante hit two home runs and drove in five runs to help send Cleveland to their fifth straight defeat despite late-inning offense that came up just short. The Tribe’s late-inning rally was squashed out by a bigger, crushing inning in the bottom of the eighth from Detroit. The Tigers pounded out 15 hits and scored 10 runs while last season’s Triple Crown winner rested on the bench.
The Indians drew first blood in the top of the first inning. Michael Bourn walked to start the inning. Nick Swisher flew out to center field before Jason Kipnis grounded out to second base, advancing Bourn into scoring position. Carlos Santana put the Indians on the scoreboard when he singled back up the middle and Bourn scampered around from second base to score and put the Indians up 1-0.
It was the same story for the second straight night. The Indians offense—sans Mike Aviles—could not muster much run production Wednesday evening. That lack of run production, combined with an untimely mental mistake, resulted in their second straight narrow defeat to the Atlanta Braves.
Chris Johnson singled through the left side to plate Jordan Schafer and the Braves won 3-2 in a walkoff victory. Atlanta used a solid effort from Paul Maholm, while the missed opportunities squandered another solid start by Justin Masterson.
When the Indians traded for Ubaldo Jimenez in July 2011, the hope was that they were acquiring a struggling ace pitcher who could be fixed and reassert himself to the top of the rotation.
Last December when the Indians orchestrated a three-team deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds they acquired Trevor Bauer with much of the same intentions as they had for Jimenez two years ago. Immediately there were stories that the Diamondbacks wanted rid of Bauer and that they had quickly grown tired of his warm up routines and trying to work on his own plan. Rich with young pitching in their minor league system, the Diamondbacks felt he was expendable.
It’s no secret, the Cleveland Indians have an attendance problem.
This weekend the Indians returned home from a road trip, right in the middle of a wild card chase with the Minnesota Twins in town. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold. The weather was just right. Friday night was Dollar Dog Night and fireworks. Saturday was Nick Swisher jersey giveaway and fireworks, plus a tribute to Tribe drummer John Adams. Sunday was Kid’s Funday. Rally Alley was open all weekend for kids and autographs from Carlos Baerga and Marquis Grissom.
The Indians drew 23,218 on Friday, 26,870 on Saturday and just 21,042 on Sunday. The Tribe drew just 71,130 on one of the nicest weekends of the summer, with no football to compete with and a competitive team on the field.
The Tribe got back on the winning ways Saturday evening with a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Zach McAllister pitched seven superb innings and the Tribe offense paced the way en route to the victory over Liam Hendriks. The victory allowed the Tribe to leap the Baltimore Orioles in the wild card standings, leaving them just two and one-half games out of the final playoff spot.
The modern era would be far more cruel to a player like Jim Hegan.
The Tribe catcher for 14 seasons—11 of which were as the Tribe’s starter—may never have been more than a back up player or someone with a limited ceiling in today’s game because he lacked the offense to produce. Hegan’s intangibles proved more valuable than his bat, however.
At some point yesterday while the Indians were dropping the rubber match of a three game series with the Oakland Athletics, I finally admitted something that I think I probably have always known in my heart.
The Cleveland Indians are not a playoff team.
A team with below average starting pitching, no real cleanup hitter and underachieving star players is hardly a playoff team. Once Corey Kluber was injured and Scott Kazmir was believed to have a, “dead arm,” the starting pitching is not nearly as reliable. That happens when any team loses their second and third best pitchers. After more than half a season of trying to fit Nick Swisher into the cleanup spot, Indians manager Terry Francona has finally gone looking elsewhere. What he’s found is no one truly qualified for the job. And while the bullpen has been improved since Chris Perez returned from the disabled list, they’re still weak on the left side and former eighth inning man, Vinnie Pestano, is in Triple-A.