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.
Walk-off victories are kind of becoming a thing again at Progressive Field.
Saturday afternoon the Tribe squandered an early 4-0 lead and strong pitching performance from Zach McAllister to blow the lead in the top of the ninth and walk off with another bottom of the ninth inning victory, winning 5-4. It was the second victory in as many days in the Tribe’s final at bat.
After a couple games in a row where the Indians pitching staff has pitched well with no help from the offense, the bats finally woke up one Wednesday. The Indians were able to win the game 10-4 with the help of three home runs, a solo shot from Mike Aviles, a two run home run from Nick Swisher and a three run blast to extend the lead off the bat of Jason Kipnis. The pitching was also strong to keep the Phillies bats in check with Corey Kluber going six innings, giving up six hits, three runs but no walks and striking out five.
The first and second innings were quiet from both teams, as no runs were scored despite the Tribe getting Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles on base with two outs. Kluber flied out on a very strong at bat for a pitcher, making Cole Hamels throw eight pitches.
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.
Interleague play comes to Cleveland for the first time this season as the Philadelphia Phillies make a quick stop to Progressive Field for a pair of games against the Indians.
The Phillies come to town on a three game winning streak. They have played very streaky baseball so far this season – prior to their sweep of the Mets over the weekend, they dropped three of four against the Pittsburgh Pirates, split a series two games apiece with the St. Louis Cardinals, and were swept in three games by the Cincinnati Reds. They have won just three of their eight series on the season, winning two sets from the Mets and one from the Miami Marlins.
The Indians return home after a scheduled ten-game road trip that was shortened a day in Chicago due to inclement weather. Unusual heroes – Mike Aviles, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ryan Raburn – assisted Cleveland in coming home with a winning 5-4 record on their road trip.
Both managers (Terry Francona and Charlie Manuel) will face off against the organizations they began their managerial careers with. Francona managed in Philadelphia for four years starting in 1997. Manuel led Cleveland for two and a half seasons, starting in 2000.
What a difference a year can make.
A year ago Corey Kluber made his first big league start, allowing six runs in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals. This year, making his first start of the season Kluber gave the Indians a much needed split of their Sunday doubleheader. His pitching, plus the offensive production of Mike Aviles, gave the Indians a 10-3 victory.
The Indians were able to jump on top right away due to a Kansas City miscue. Michael Brantley led off the game with a single to center field. Once Asdrubal Cabrera struck out, Nick Swisher grounded to third baseman Mike Moustakas. However, Moustakas’ throw was wide of the second base bag and what could have been an inning-ending double play instead put runners on first and second with just one out.
On Opening Day, it seems the Indians have traveled thousands of miles this winter in their journey to build a winner.
Mike Aviles can relate with long travels.
Beginning his sixth Major League season and as part of his fourth organization, it would be easy to label Aviles a veteran journeyman. While he fits the description, he is more the journeyman off the field than he is on the field.
Each season Aviles drives from his home to spring training, and from his home ballpark city back to his home at the end of the year.
“I always drive. I do a lot of driving across country. I enjoy driving and hitting the road,” Aviles said. “Going, I get that mental clarity to turn the page to baseball mode, let’s start the season. On the way home, it’s like that mental wind down, we’re done. Now, it’s family time.”
With Spring Training underway throughout baseball, we will take a look at the offseason moves made by the other American League teams. Two teams will be reviewed each Sunday until the beginning of the regular season. Previous previews include: TEX/HOU; OAK/LA; SEA/TOR; BOS/NYY; BAL/TB
By Bob Toth
Maybe the times are changing for the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals have not finished higher than third place in the American League Central Division since the 1995 season. At 70-74, they finished 30 games behind the Cleveland Indians that year. They have not finished above even since the 2003 season when they compiled an 83-79 record. Four times in the 13 seasons played in the 21st century the Royals have finished with 100 losses or more.
Minnesota has been in a funk the last two seasons. After posting winning records in nine out of ten seasons starting in 2001, including six different playoff births, the Ron Gardenhire-led Twins have faltered some, giving the skipper his first two seasons with a losing record.
Both clubs are young, built around several key offensive pieces. The Royals made far more noise in the offseason, and all indications are that their club is far closer to contending than the Twins.
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 Steve Eby
What a strange, wild winter Mike Aviles had.
“It was definitely weird,” Aviles said in a Michael Silverman article.
What was so strange was that Aviles became another answer to a trivia question, as he was traded on Oct. 21 from the Boston Red Sox to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher David Carpenter and the rights to speak to—and eventually hire—Manager John Farrell.
“I think it was the seventh time (a manager has been traded),” Aviles said. “It’s definitely weird but you can also take it as an honor. I know how much the Red Sox value his leadership, so I definitely took it as an honor. They’re trading me for him. I appreciate it. Get to go in the record books for something, right?”
By Mike Brandyberry
If Mike Aviles digs into the batter’s box tonight in a late-inning situation against Vinnie Pestano, it might seem odd for Indians fans to see teammates facing off against one another, but Pestano should be comfortable in the situation—he’s done it since the first pitch of his big league career.
Pestano’s Team USA will face off against Aviles’ Team Puerto Rico tonight at 8 pm at Marlins Park in Miami to open each countries second round in the World Baseball Classic. The second round is a double-elimination format, so the loser of tonight’s game will immediately find themselves on the brink of elimination.
Aviles helped his Puerto Rican team go 2-1 this weekend and advance out of pool play. He was 3 for 9, with a home run and six runs batted in. The team’s only loss was to the Dominican Republic on Sunday evening. Aviles’ two-run homer was the only offensive production in the 5-2 loss, setting up tonight’s game with the United States and Pestano.
On this week’s podcast Erik Pinkerman, Ronnie Tellalian and Mike Brandyberry talk about the injury to closer Chris Perez and how serious it is concerning the Tribe’s season and who could possibly replace him in the closer’s role if he …
By Mike Brandyberry
With the opening of the World Baseball Classic this morning in Fukuoka, Japan, the Indians camp in Goodyear, Ariz. is preparing for five of its players to report to their respective countries today. Their departures from the Tribe’s camp will have varied effects on everyone involved.
Cleveland has five players playing for four different countries: Vinnie Pestano (United States), Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela), Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic), Mike Aviles and Giovanni Soto (Puerto Rico).
Closer Chris Perez was supposed to pitch for the United States, but was shut down Friday with subscapularis strain in his right shoulder. Perez is not expected to throw for seven to 10 days and will miss three to four weeks of game action. He will miss the World Baseball Classic, and Opening Day currently is in jeopardy.
Indians Manager Terry Francona has had clear communication with WBC managers about how pitchers will be used. Starters are restricted to a 65-pitch limit. Team USA Manager Joe Torre does not intend to use relief pitchers for more than one inning and not on back-to-back days.
“We’re not concerned about them over using our guys,” Francona said during his daily press conference on Wednesday. “They’ve been very upfront about taking care of our guys.”