Maybe an unfamiliar foe will do the Cleveland Indians some good.
The Indians (30-32) have dropped eleven straight games on the road and seven straight overall. They begin a three-game series with the Texas Rangers on Monday evening after being swept in each of their last two series against New York and Detroit. They may welcome competition from the American League West – on the season, they are a combined 10-1 against western opponents. They are 6-17 against the AL East and 9-10 in the AL Central.
The Rangers (37-25) begin an eleven-game homestand with the Indians. They are 3-5 to start the month of June and 8-6 against the AL Central this season. They have a half-game lead over Oakland for the lead of the AL West and boast an 18-8 record at home on the year, the best record of any AL team at home this season.
The Cleveland Indians will wrap up their season series with the New York Yankees as they head to the Big Apple for three games this week, beginning Monday night.
The Indians (30-26) finished their brief five-game homestand against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay at 3-2. After sweeping the home half of a home-and-home series with the Reds, they dropped two of three to the Rays. Even though they have been playing through a tough stretch of games with several difficult losses, they remain just one-half game out of first place in the American League Central.
Since their doubleheader with the Indians on May 13th, the Yankees (31-25) have had difficulties on the field. They have won just two of their seven series since, losing two of three from Seattle, Baltimore, and Boston and being swept in four straight by the New York Mets. Their recent woes have dropped them to third in the AL East, three games behind the front-running Red Sox and a half-game behind the Orioles for second place and the Wild Card lead.
Ubaldo Jimenez is making it harder and harder to question that he has sorted out the pitching problems that plagued him through his first two years in a Cleveland Indians uniform.
Behind perhaps the best outing of his Indians career, Cleveland silenced the Tampa Bay offense and had some Saturday afternoon fireworks as they blanked the Rays, 5-0.
When this week began whispers were starting to build that Cleveland Indians veteran Jason Giambi may have been washed up. He was mired in an 0-for-24 slump and manager Terry Francona was facing questions from the media as to whether or not the 42-year-old slugger still had it.
To Francona’s credit, he never wavered in his belief that Giambi could still be a valuable contributor to the team. As recently as Saturday, the Tribe skipper was quoted as saying “bleep no,” by the Plain Dealer when asked if he was worried about his part-time designated hitter.
When you are in a losing streak, it often seems like nothing can go right. Bounces don’t go your way, pitchers can’t seem to find the zone and overall the losses just pile on. However, all it takes is just one game to break the trend, which is exactly what happened on Wednesday night for the Tribe. They were able to get great pitching and strong hitting on the way to a 5-2 victory, starting a one game-winning streak.
The Indians and Reds have made some memorable trades over the last decade. At times, you needed a scorecard today to know who was helping what team win.
Shin-Soo Choo, Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs each played roles in the game’s outcome, but it was Joey Votto with the final blast in the game. His two run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning off Nick Hagadone issued the Indians a 4-2 loss on Monday afternoon.
The Indians are in first place in May. We’ve heard this before.
This afternoon the Indians go for a four game sweep of the Seattle Mariners and their fifth straight win. Heading in to the game, the Indians have a two game lead on the Detroit Tigers, whose starting pitching is starting to become a question mark of their own. Instead, the Indians seem to be hitting on all cylinders as they are winners of 17 of their last 21 games. While Detroit seems to be stalling at the quarter mark, the Tribe seems to be hitting the gas and starting to speed ahead.
The Indians are beyond making a habit of defeating former Cy Young winners. It is officially a trend.
Saturday evening the Indians beat their sixth former Cy Young winner of the season when the took down Justin Verlander and Detroit Tigers by a score of 7-6. The Tribe was able to strike Verlander early and push up his pitch count, limiting him to only a five inning outing. Meanwhile, it was Ubaldo Jimenez who looked more like he was hardware worthy, logging his third consecutive quality start while the Indians’ bullpen survived through the final nine outs.
Tonight, the Indians proved they didn’t need to be wearing blue to win. White is alright, too.
Even better, they proved that Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound is not necessarily a bad thing.
The starting pitcher has been one of the most unsteady parts of the Indians rotation thus far. Nights when he’s on the mound often have fans doubting the team’s success before the game even starts. This time, Jimenez didn’t need to fear the wrath of disgruntled fans as another solid start and four solo home runs helped lead the Tribe to a 7-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
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.
The first place Kansas City Royals, fresh off of a split in Detroit to end an eight-game road trip, welcome the Cleveland Indians to Kauffman Stadium for a four-game wraparound series this weekend.
The Indians are on the final leg of a road trip that featured ten scheduled games in eleven days. Cleveland fell to 6-5 on the road on the season after losing their series finale against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon.
The Indians are the last of the AL Central foes to face off against the Royals this season. Kansas City returns home for their longest home stand of the season, playing ten straight games in their friendly confines. They will play another ten-game home series in August. They are 4-2 at home this year.
The old adage goes that offense sometimes comes in bunches. The Indians found a bunch of bunches on Saturday night.
Cleveland had been struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, but Saturday they were 11-for-22, generating 19 runs of offense on their way to a 19-6 rout. The Tribe controlled the game from the onset, forcing Philip Humber from the game after only one out. The Indians Scott Kazmir was less than stellar in his first game back in the big leagues after two seasons.