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.
If the Indians scored any more runs two at a time, they would have needed an ark on Tuesday night.
The Indians touched up Roy Halladay for three home runs and eight runs on their way to hanging seven home runs on the Phillies in a decidingly 14-2 victory at Progressive Field. Zach McAllister controlled the Phillies bats for seven strong innings, carding the Tribe’s third straight quality start.
Cleveland struck in the first inning for the third straight game. With one out in the inning, Jason Kipnis singled to center field and promptly stole second base. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to first base, moving Kipnis to third before Carlos Santana hit a mammoth home run that just hooked around the right field foul pole. The two run blast was Santana’s fifth homer of the young season, making the score 2-0 Tribe.
For 13 innings, White Sox starter Jose Quintana was an enigma the Indians batters could not figure out. When the two teams played on Apr. 12, Quintana shut the Tribe out for eight innings before his bullpen allowed a 1-0 defeat.
Quintana was again masterful through the first five frames of Wednesday afternoon’s game. Cleveland finally got to him for a pair of runs in the sixth. However, this time, the Indians could not figure out Chicago’s relievers. The Sox bullpen shout out the Tribe for four innings as Cleveland fell at U.S. Cellular Field, 3-2. The AL Central Division rivals split the rain-shortened, two-game series.
The Indians, who dropped to 8-11, fell behind early and never could quite catch up despite having several scoring opportunities.
This game was a game of patience. Both teams seemed poised and collected at the plate, waiting for their pitches and making the pitchers work but it was the Indians who took advantage of their opportunities the best and earned a 3-2 victory.
It seemed clear coming into this game that both teams were willing to give the starting pitchers a chance to work themselves into trouble with walks and then try to take advantage. Both starting pitchers, Justin Masterson and Dylan Axelrod, struggled to find the strike zone consistently producing heavy pitch counts and walks that led to runs.
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 Indians climbed a little closer to .500 with a white-knuckler of a game that the Indians emerged victorious 5-4, thanks to a plethora of long balls and a nerve wracking ninth inning.
For the Indians, Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound in perhaps his most important start in recent memory with his job in the balance. He was be opposed by lefty, Erik Bedard for the Astros. The Indians put in an early threat against Bedard with runners on first and third with two outs in the first inning after Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher singled but Bedard was able to strike out Mark Reynolds to end the threat.
In Monday’s home opener against the New York Yankees, Ubaldo Jimenez was asked by Tribe manager Terry Francona to leave the mound early, in the fifth inning. That was mostly due to ineffectiveness and the fact the visitors were lighting up the Progressive Field score board.
On Tuesday night, starter Carlos Carrasco (0-1) was equally ineffective against those same Yankees as the Indians were soundly defeated 14-1. He, however, was asked to exit the ball game early by home plate umpire Jordan Baker before the New York half of the the fourth was complete.
Compiled by Bob Toth
It has been too long since there was a buzz around the Cleveland Indians. It has been a refreshing change of pace this offseason and certainly helped to provide some distraction during the winter. Over the course of the last decade and more, the Indians have sat back and watched other teams race to outspend one another to upgrade their clubs while being handcuffed by Cleveland’s small market label and the burdensome contracts of underperforming stars. This season, they did not sit idly by.
Maybe Tribe closer Chris Perez stirred up the pot enough during last season to open up the eyes of the front office brass. The team was just not going to contend amongst the best of the best in the American League without opening up the checkbook a little. Maybe the poor turn out through the turnstiles sent a compelling message. Maybe losing what remaining airtime they had on Cleveland-based sports talk radio shows to the lackluster Cleveland Browns showed them the general disinterest in the once national pastime.
Whatever the reason was, the team spent and spent a lot and appears to be all the better (and more competitive) for it. Maybe the Cleveland Indians are back again.
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the 15 newcomers to the 40-man roster this winter and the role they can play moving forward.
By Ronnie Tellalian
Drew Stubbs is one of the newest additions to the Cleveland Indians. He made a mark in the Majors with his speed and glove, but his bat has been an inconsistent tool. Likely to spend his time in right field, the Indians are hopeful that he can continue to shine defensively as well as make strides at the plate.
Stubbs came over to Cleveland from the Cincinnati Reds. He was part of the three team deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo sent to Cincinnati and brought Trevor Bauer to the Tribe. Stubbs wasn’t too sure what to think when he got the news he was traded to Cleveland.