By Mike Brandyberry
The view through the Indians’ window isn’t as sunny as they originally forecasted for this season.
When Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti made the trade for Ubaldo Jimenez a year ago today, the trade was made to open a window of contention for the Tribe through 2013. This season was to be the one in which the Indians hopefully would be a playoff team and contend for a World Series.
Instead, Cleveland wakes this morning at 50-52, five and one-half games out of first place after being swept by the Minnesota Twins. The Indians, as they are currently constructed, aren’t a playoff team. They probably aren’t a playoff contender by September. The offense appears average on paper and below average with the eye test. Their all-left-handed-hitting lineup doesn’t work. They hit .220 as a team against southpaws and are 10-22 when a lefty starter opposes them. Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan have struggled most of the season, while the Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan platoon has been a failure.
By Mike Brandyberry
If the Indians management is looking for a sign as to whether they should be buyers or sellers, the sign has been clear over the last two days. After an embarrassing 11-0 defeat last night, the Indians followed it up with a 12-5 beating Saturday evening.
Justin Masterson started so promising, retiring the first 11 hitters he faced in the game, but couldn’t overcome questionable umpire calls or two out base hits.
It appeared as if the Indians had life in the top of the first inning when Shin-Soo Choo singled to right field and stole second base to start the game. After Michael Brantley walked, Jason Kipnis moved both runners to scoring position, Carlos Santana grounded to third base to score Choo and give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead.
By Craig Gifford
Struggling out of the All-Star break and falling four games and multiple teams behind in both the wild card and divisional races is not a good way for the Cleveland Indians to boost a lagging attendance at Progressive Field.
The Indians, with the worst average attendance in Major League Baseball, get another challenge to the hearts and minds of Clevelanders, tomorrow. That is the first day of Cleveland Browns training camp to be open to the public. It is the first day of full-squad training camp for the city’s favorite team. The Indians are loved but the Browns are loved multiple times over in the city on the shores of Lake Erie.
It will really be tough for the Tribe to keep the attention of its fans now, barring a run of wins that gets the team into prime playoff position. If the Indians do not get hot soon, Cleveland’s attention is going to turn toward the Browns. Granted, that’s with good reason. The Browns have a bright outlook for the first time since their 1999 rebirth. Still, whether the Indians make a postseason run or not, this is no time to completely turn away from the baseball team and the two months it has left.
For a number of reasons the Indians should remain on the minds of Cleveland sports fans.
By Christian Petrila
For the seventh consecutive game, the Indians couldn’t break that magic number of three runs. For the fifth time in those seven games, they took the loss as Detroit won the second game of the three-game set, 5-2.
Detroit struck in the very first inning, taking advantage of Indians starter Derek Lowe’s inability to hit his spots. Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry both singled off of Lowe to lead off the game. Miguel Cabrera drove in Jackson and moved Berry to third with a single, but Cabrera was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. After hitting Prince Fielder with a pitch, Lowe limited the damage by striking out Delmon Young and getting Brennan Boesch to pop out.
By Christian Petrila
With under a week until MLB’s trade deadline, trade rumors are more than swirling. They’re like tornadoes that have touched down and are wreaking havoc on the sanity of any fan. The Indians are obviously in the thick of those rumors. Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of the Indians pulling off a big trade, both as buyers and sellers.
There are plenty of pros to the Indians being buyers. Entering Wednesday, they are coming off of a big series-opening victory overDetroit. They are three games out of first place in the AL Central, and 3.5 games out of the wild card. Someone could make the case that they are one bat and/or arm from making a serious push for the playoffs. They have shown signs of capability throughout the season, with Ubaldo Jimenez’s span of solid outings (Tuesday’s start included), Justin Masterson’s good starts, and the emergence of Zach McAllister as a reliable starter. Another starter in the rotation could give the Indians an added comfort level they would need down the stretch. Another bat, preferably a right-handed one, would also help to take pressure off the hitters who are underperforming, primarily Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner.
By Dave Roberts
The final game of the Indians and Orioles series was a big one for the Tribe as they just dropped below.500 the previous night for the first time since April 11. They sent Justin Masterson to the mound against Tommy Hunter in an attempt to stop their losing streak at four. What resulted at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario was a classic pitcher’s duel but thankfully Masterson was had a leg up and Choo hit the ball when it really counted.
Justin Masterson took the mound with hopes of turning it around after his shaky start in Tampa and he did just that. Over 7.1 innings, Masterson allowed just one run on seven hits while striking out six and walking just one. Masterson benefited from solid defense including double plays in the fourth and seventh innings. The one blemish that marked Masterson’s otherwise dominant performance was the Omar Quintanilla double that scored Ryan Flaherty from first in the fifth.
Zach McAllister worked in and out of trouble better than his counterpart Alex Cobb and the Indians were able to hang on and win a game full of jams and untimely hitting, 3-2. Each team struggled to get a hit to score runs in the game.
The win, combined with the Chicago White Sox loss, moves the Indians back to only three games out of first place. The Detroit Tigers did win, remaining in second place, only two and one-half games in back of the top spot.
The Tribe struck almost immediately when Shin-Soo Choo drove a ball to deep centerfield that was originally ruled a home run. However, video replay overturned the play and placed Choo on second base. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded to the right side to move Choo to third and after Jason Kipnis was unable to come through with a hit, Choo scored on a passed ball with cleanup hitter Michael Brantley at the plate. The Indians had a 1-0 lead before the Rays came to the plate.
By Craig Gifford
The first half of the Major League Baseball season is in the books. For the Cleveland Indians, the first half was bookended by blown saves from closer Chris Perez, who was perfect in 24 save attempts between Opening Day and Sunday’s final game before the All-Star break.
In between the two rough outings, the Indians spent quite a few days in first place and entered the break 44-41. That is good for second place in the AL Central Division, three games behind the surprise, front-running Chicago White Sox. Record-wise, this is about where a lot of people thought the Indians would be, myself included. I thought 87 wins was reasonable goal before the year and the Tribe is roughly on that pace. Many people also thought the Indians would be the second best team in the division. The exception to that being the Detroit Tigers were far and away the team picked as the top dog, not the Sox.
The journey to a spot of contention – the Indians are one game behind the shocking Baltimore Orioles for the second AL Wild Card spot – has been full of surprises, both good and bad. It has been full of key contributions and a lot of memorable moments.
Let’s start with the aforementioned Perez. One of two Tribe All-Stars this season, the closer was as dominant as any closer in the game for three months. The unfortunate thing for him as that his two blown saves came at probably the most inopportune times. The first was Opening Day in front of sold-out crowd at Progressive Field. The other was Sunday, killing what would have been a major momentum boost for the Indians had they held on to take two of three from Tampa Bay and end the first half with three straight series wins against contending teams.
By Bob Toth
A ninth inning rally by the Tampa Bay Rays off of Cleveland’s closer Chris Perez erases some of the earlier positive vibes of the day heading into the All-Star break, as the Rays sneak away with a 7-6 win in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.
Perez came on in the ninth with a 6-4 lead, held down by an effective afternoon by the Indians’ “Bullpen Mafia”. Joe Smith retired all three batters he faced. Tony Sipp struck out the only batter he saw, left-hander Carlos Pena, in the seventh. Vinnie Pestano struck out three in the eighth, despite giving up a double and a walk after there were two outs.
Perez struck out Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton on five pitches to start the ninth inning. Second baseman Will Rhymes followed by driving a 2-2 pitch to the seats in right for his first home run of the season and the second of his career, cutting the Indians’ lead to one at 6-5. After Elliot Johnson lined a single to center, Pena sent a shot to left-center that went under the glove of a diving Michael Brantley. The ball rolled to the warning track, allowing Pena to third on the game-tying triple. The next batter, Ben Zobrist, lined a single to right to score Pena, and the Rays took their first lead of the afternoon, 7-6.
All-Star closer Fernando Rodney would allow back-to-back two-out base hits to Brantley and Carlos Santana, but would retire Casey Kotchman on a fielder’s choice groundout to second with the tying run just 90 feet away to end it. It was the 25th save of the year for the Rays’ pitcher.
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians hit three solo home runs and Josh Tomlin allowed just two hits over seven innings, as the Tribe took game one of their series with the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 3-1.
Shin-Soo Choo got the scoring started early for the Indians with a solo homer to right field on the first strike thrown by Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson in the first inning. It was the ninth home run of the season for the Tribe’s starting right fielder, and his fourth of the season leading off a game, tying him with New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter for the league lead. He is now batting .327 in the leadoff role.
Michael Brantley would keep the offense going in the second inning. After taking ball one from Hellickson, Brantley would blast a laser beam to right-center field for a home run and a 2-0 Indians lead. It was the third home run on the season for the Tribe center fielder and his second in as many days.
“I got a fastball in and put a good swing on it,” Brantley said. “I’m seeing a lot of good pitches and putting good quality swings on the ball.”
By Mike Brandyberry
The Indians offense burst onto the holiday scene and exploded early to blow open today’s Independence Day game, winning the contest 12-3.
The Tribe burned the Angels’ Ervin Santana early and Derek Lowe was able to rebound from a bumpy June. Santana was unable to make it out of the second inning, as the Tribe tagged him for eight runs, while he only recorded four outs. Every Indians starter would record a base hit in the contest.
The Tribe started the July 4 fireworks in the first inning when Jason Kipnis drew a two-out walk. Travis Hafner made his return to the Indians lineup for the first time since May 23 and worked an 11-pitch walk of his own to set the table for Michael Brantley. Brantley lined a 338-foot home run down the right field line that just snuck over the fence. The ball was hit so hard, it barely got high enough to clear the fence. Brantley’s bottle rocket gave the Indians an early 3-0 lead in the first inning.
It appeared the Angels were ready to put a crooked number of their own on the board in the top of the second inning when Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo each lead off the inning. Alberto Callaspo grounded to second base, but with Trumbo running with the pitch, he beat the throw to second and Callaspo did the same at first to load the bases. The hit was ruled a fielder’s choice, but left the bases loaded with no one out.
By Dave Roberts
Thanks to a strong offensive approach the Indians, bats continued to stay awake this series thanks in large part to big two out hits in an 11-5 win over the O’s. Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Lopez and Lou Marson each had career days pacing the Tribe offense.
Josh Tomlin took the mound against the Orioles on Saturday afternoon looking to turn things around. Meanwhile the Tribe offense looked to keep the bats rolling against youngster Dana Eveland, making a spot start out of the pen.
Tomlin looked gutsy through the outing not fooling many Orioles hitters but thanks to some stellar defense was able to pull through a decent performance. Through six innings, Tomlin allowed five runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking three. The one real blemish to Tomlin’s line came in the fourth inning when he allowed a lead-off double to Adam Jones and a Wilson Betemit walk to set the stage for Chris Davis to crush a three-run homerun to right. Other than the big inning, Tomlin gave up solo runs in both the fourth and sixth innings en route to a win.