Series Preview #35: Texas Rangers (43-65) at Cleveland Indians (53-55)... August 1, 2014 | Bob Toth
Trades Are Not an End to Cleveland’s Postseason Hopes... August 1, 2014 | Craig Gifford
Zunino Homer Late Sends Tribe to Series Loss; Mariners 6, Indians 5... July 31, 2014 | Mike Brandyberry
Indians Trade Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals... July 31, 2014 | Bob Toth
It’s late July and Mike Papi, one of the newest members of the Lake County Captains, is wearing a University of Virginia Baseball sweatshirt. It’s not supposed to be cold enough to need a sweatshirt when leaving the clubhouse at this point in the summer.
Papi is from Tunkhannock, PA, a small town of less than 2,000 people. He’s no stranger to the weather woes that plague Cleveland and its surrounding areas.
“You play in April,” Papi said, laughing, when explaining how the change of weather does not affect him on the field.
Despite being the smartest person I know, my sister has not always known what makes a good trade.
When we were kids, she traded our prized Charizard Pokémon card to the boy down the street. I don’t remember what we got in return, only that, in my eyes, it wasn’t nearly enough. Sure, she won the affections of her kindergarten crush, but our deck of cards was now severely lacking in dominance. The boy down the street now held all the Pokémon power in the palm of his hand. It was a rough evening.
Luckily, the Indians don’t consult my sister before they make a trade.
It was a battle of the K’s as Corey Kluber faced “King” Felix Hernandez Wednesday night at Progressive Field in Game 2 of their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. Despite having their certified current ace on the mound, the team wore their socks high, paying homage to their former ace, now turned former teammate, Justin Masterson, who was traded Wednesday afternoon to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfield prospect James Ramsey.
The Tribe gave Ramsey something to look forward to within their organization, as they defeated the Mariners 2-0, and Kluber continued to cement himself as the backbone of the starting rotation.
The Cleveland Indians have traded right-handed starting pitcher Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon according to multiple reports.
Masterson is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts with the Indians this season and has shown a loss of velocity in his fastball. Cleveland and Masterson could not agree on a contract extension during spring training and he has had a very subpar 2014 season. He has been on the disabled list since July 8 with right knee inflammation and was supposed to start on Friday evening for Cleveland. Instead, he is dealt to St. Louis, a contender looking to strengthen their starting rotation. Masterson will be a free agent at the end of this season.
There was a passion for baseball in West Terre Haute, IN that exceeded all of sports recalled Carolina Mudcats catcher Jeremy Lucas. There was just one thing holding it back.
“I guess you could say it is the main sport there,” Lucas said. “But there are not a lot of people there so if everyone played there it still would not be big.
“Some people hope for a miracle cure; Some people just accept the world as it is.”
The next line of the previously quoted song, which is titled An Innocent Man, is “But I’m not willing to lay down and die.” In the Indians case, I’m not so sure that that should be their approach.
Just about one year ago, I examined the Indians chances of making the playoffs and correctly called ESPN’s 38.5% chance “embarrassingly low”. Currently, ESPN.com lists the Indians chances of playing meaningful October baseball at 20.6%; a number that is probably too high.
Runs were expected to be at a minimum in the first game of a couple strong pitching matchups to open the series, but it was just Cleveland scuffling to tally runs on Tuesday evening.
Trevor Bauer and Hisashi Iwakuma locked up in an early pitcher’s duel, but the veteran Iwakuma showed his mettle against the youngster Bauer, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 5-2 win in the opener of a three game series at Progressive Field. Seattle tagged Bauer for three doubles in the fourth inning, leading to four runs, which was enough to give the Mariners a lead they would never relinquish. Cleveland had their chances to get back into the game, but Iwakuma bent but did not break when challenged. The win for Seattle helped them in their playoff pursuit, while Cleveland could be seeing their October visions fade into the summer sun.
After three innings of the pitching matchup the Indians thought they would get, Bauer faltered in the fourth inning when the Mariners sent nine hitters to the plate. Kyle Seager bunted down the third base line to beat the shift to start the inning and Mike Zunino was hit-by-pitch to put a pair on with no one out. After Logan Morrison lined out Corey Hart doubled to left field, scoring Seager and putting Seattle up 1-0.
Despite a fantastic start to their first road trip of the second half, the Cleveland Indians sputtered in trips through Minnesota and Kansas City, ending what started out as a 3-1 road trip with a 5-6 record. They will open up an eight game homestand, their first since the last series prior to the All-Star Break, on Tuesday night as they host the Seattle Mariners.
The Indians (52-53) will look to extend their 29-19 home record, one of the best in the American League, over the course of the next eight home games. It will be a welcomed change of pace for the club after stumbling in KC, where they dropped the first three of a four game set.
The Indians wasted a strong starting outing and lost a 2-1 final on Thursday in 14 innings. A two-run home run in the eighth inning by Billy Butler bumped the Royals past the Indians on Friday night, 6-4. On Saturday, a five-run second inning was squandered as Cleveland surrendered seven unanswered runs, including the deciding two-run shot by Butler in the fifth, in a 7-5 loss. The Indians offense produced in double-digit quantities on Sunday in a decisive 10-3 win to wrap up the road trip.
With some big shoes to fill, Erik Gonzalez is up for the challenge of replacing top prospect Francisco Lindor at Double-A Akron. Lindor was promoted to Triple-A Columbus on July 21, and Gonzalez was in Akron the next day. After spending most of the first part of the season in High-A Carolina, Gonzalez is going to slide right into the lineup and be the everyday shortstop in Akron.
“I’m really excited and really grateful to be up here,” Gonzalez said.
In the 1980s, the Cavaliers had an alarming tendency to make terrible trades. They were so bad at it, in fact, that at one point, the NBA Commissioner stepped in to approve any trade. Many teams benefitted from the Cavs’ front office ineptitude, with Dick Motta going so far as to say, “I was afraid to go to lunch for fear I’d miss a call from Cleveland.”
Given their history over the past 20 years, Indians management must feel the same way about the Mariners. Although Indians and Mariners fans can relate to rooting for a team that’s either terrible, not quite good enough, or able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Indians have been able to take great talent from the Mariners without giving up much in return.
After the 1993 season, the Indians traded starting shortstop Felix Fermin and spare outfielder Reggie Jefferson to the M’s for their shortstop, Omar Vizquel. Both infielders were regarded as good-field, no-hit. But while Fermin was out of baseball in two years, while Vizquel raised his average 30 points in Cleveland and became one of the mainstays of those great Tribe teams of the 1990s. He was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame last month, and perhaps a plaque at Cooperstown awaits him as well.