Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 32
The number 32 has been missing in regular action on the diamond for the Cleveland Indians for the last three years. That could continue on into 2017, as no player currently holds the number as his own with spring training well under way from Goodyear, Arizona.
Pitchers have been the primary wearer of 32 in recent Indians history and the last to do so, Matt Albers in 2013, was no different.
The Cleveland Indians entered the 2013 season with an alarming lack of apparent ability in the starting rotation. With the turnaround of Ubaldo Jimenez, the comeback of Scott Kazmir, and the emergence of Cory Kluber, the starting rotation became a source of strength for the Indians. Kazmir moved on to the Oakland Athletics and Jimenez seems destine to sign with another team as well. With the loss of two key players, the big question is whether or not the Indians can repeat their playoff season.
In order to look at where the Indians could be in 2014, we must look at what they have lost and gained in this current off season. In addition to this, we have to look at the loss and gain of the other teams in the American League Central. Using a statistic known as Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, we can project how many wins each player is, or could be worth. If we add up the cumulative WAR of the players the Indians lost, and the WAR of the new additions to the team, we can project how many wins the Indians lost or gained with through free agency and trades this winter.
Coming off a huge turn around season in 2013, one in which the Indians refused to lose down the stretch and bulldozed their way into the playoffs, there are a lot of holes to be filled in the new Indians roster.
With the loss of the excellent Joe Smith, as well as arms like Matt Albers and Chris Perez, the Indians have a lot of innings to replace before the start of the 2014 season. Internal options will arise in players like Preston Guilmet and a hopeful return to dominance from Vinnie Pestano, but the free agent market cannot go untapped. Several solid right-handed arms can be acquired at bargain prices, an aspect that will appeal to a small market team like the Cleveland Indians.
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?
Perhaps no other player on the 2013 Indians induced more yawns than middle/long relief pitcher Matt Albers. When Terry Francona summoned the big right hander from the bullpen, Albers wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t great. He wasn’t exciting, but he also didn’t make you angry. He wasn’t a fan favorite, but he wasn’t really a goat either.
Albers was just there.
Wednesday afternoon’s series finale between the Indians and Royals at Progressive Field did not start well for either side’s starting pitcher. However, Kansas City hurler James Shields rebounded to dominate after a rough initial frame.
Meanwhile, Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir rebounded to pitch better after a horrendous start. However, defensive miscues and a lack of offense doomed the Tribe to a 6-2 defeat. The loss, Cleveland’s second straight to the Royals, dropped the Indians to 2 games behind Tampa for the second AL Wild Card spot. Kansas City, in taking 2 of 3 games in series, is now just a 1/2 game behind the Tribe. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said it was disappointing his team could not fare better against a fellow wild card hopeful. He added that the upcoming four-game series in Chicago, beginning tomorrow, will be big in keeping pace in the playoff race.
It doesn’t matter if it takes nine or 14 innings because a win is a win. The Indians played a game against the Los Angeles Angels that went 13 innings before the Indians were able to take the lead in the 14th inning on a huge two-run Drew Stubbs home run and win the game 4-1. The game started off with Danny Salazar on the mound for the Indians and C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Angels but ended far from those two pitchers.
J.B. Shuck took Salazar’s second pitch of the day to deep right field for a lead off home run, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead.
The third, fourth and fifth innings all saw Salazar absolutely dominate the Angels lineup, allowing just one hit and one walk. Salazar was able work his way out of both runners, keeping the Angels at only one run.
This game seemed to have the script of the last six games all over again. Poor pitching and no hitting seemed to spell out another loss and a sweep in a second series in a row. However the Indians had different plans as they were able to come back from an early five run deficit and finish the home stand in the right way, winning 6-5. While Justin Masterson struggled on the mound and Angels starter Jerome Williams seemed to have the Indians number for most of the game, the Indians were able to recover and pull this victory out.
The game started off with the Angels putting two on the board in the first inning. Justin Masterson was able to get the first batter of the game to ground out but then walked back-to-back batters before Josh Hamilton drove in a run on a single to right field. With men on first and third base, Mark Trumbo grounded into a fielder’s choice that drove in the runner from third base and made it a 2-0 lead.
Just one inning. That’s all it takes.
It was just one inning that sunk the Indians against the Tigers a couple times this week and that theme continued Friday night as the Tribe suffered a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels. Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir allowed all five runs in the first inning and Jered Weaver kept the Tribe at bay for the remainder of the game.
Kazmir, who was released by the Angels in 2011, was not welcomed by some of his former teammates in the top of the first inning. J.B. Shuck and Collin Cowgill each singled to start the game. After Mike Trout walked, Mark Trumbo singled to left to plate both Shuck and Cowgill, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Cleveland hoped to make a statement to the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball this week in their four game series, instead it was the Tigers that sent the message.
Detroit put an exclamation on their continued claim to the American League Central Division, Thursday night when they embarrassed the Tribe 10-3. After three hard-fought contests between the two teams, the Tigers completed the four game sweep with a dominating performance.
Zach McAllister had little control and less answers for the Detroit offense in the third inning and the Tigers plated six runs to take control of the game. Meanwhile, Max Scherzer continued to benefit from the best run support in the American League as he extended his record to 17-1 on the season.
One team looked like a playoff team and the other looked like one of the lesser teams in baseball, making youthful mistakes.
However, it was the lowly Miami Marlins that played with fire and hustle Friday evening behind a splendid pitching effort by rookie, Jose Fernandez. The Indians instead looked lifeless and sloppy behind a poor pitching effort from Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians may have had all the fight and spark and still fell to Fernandez who shutout the Tribe 10-0 on Friday evening. The embarrassing defeat snapped the Indians’ eight game winning streak.
Games like tonight are the ones that hurt the most to lose. The games that you know you had so many chances to win, so many chances to put the other team away but you just couldn’t do it. That is exactly what happened tonight as the Indians fell to in 10 innings, 4-2. With Max Scherzer starting for the Tigers and Scott Kazmir for the Indians, a low scoring affair was expected.
After a hitless first inning from both teams, it was a combo of past Indians who put the Tigers on the board in the second inning. Kluber was able to get Prince Fielder to strike out for the first out of the inning. The next two batters didn’t go as well, as he gave up back-to-back doubles off the bats of Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, putting the Tigers up 1-0.
Carrasco pitched into the eighth inning, not allowing a run until he had already left the game, but suffered a no-decision, just like Shields as the Royals won the game late, 2-1. The Tribe’s bullpen—that was once a strength—coughed up another lead in a late inning situation.
It was a game of a seasoned veteran pitching just like one, keeping his team in the game. Meanwhile, someone who likely should have established himself as a mainstay in the rotation quite some time ago may have finally asserted himself.