The DEFEND Cleveland Show

August 9th, 2011 DC Show Report

With a huge three game home series beginning tonight against the Central’s 1st place team the Detroit Tigers, it cannot be more stressed just how important playing well within the division will be for the Tribe these last 50 games that remain. Of course having 38 of those 50 games be against their Central rivals makes this a rather obvious statement. So call me “Captain” if you must, but sometimes the obvious can’t be pointed out too much. Just like it’s obvious if you were born in Cleveland that you should not ever see fit to root for the Yankees.

Well, at least it should be obvious anyway.

Now we all know the importance that was placed on the Tribe to do well last week when for 7 days they found themselves on the road playing against some of the best the AL has to offer in Boston and Texas. The two best teams at home in the AL and the two best offensive teams in all of baseball. Especially at home. And the Tribe did play well, in fact, they actually played well enough to have won all 7 games yet had 1 taken in the last at bats of their opponents, and 3 others taken with the final swing, all ending their week by going 3-4.

Beyond playing well enough to win more than the 3 they ended up with there was a lot to take away in all of this as I pointed out on yesterday’s show. Such as the starting pitching continued to do its job and looked like it might just very well be improved with the addition of Ubaldo. As had been so hoped to be the case. Also the hitting over that stretch was much improved (of course it couldn’t have gotten worse than what June and July had been), with Asdrubal batting .393, Santana coming to life batting .321 with 2 HR and 9 RBI, Fukudome got in on the action hitting .333, Haf was Haf, and even Shelley Duncan was swinging a boomstick.

And then there was Kipnis.

Not only did rookie 2nd baseman Jason Kipnis do what no other MLB player has ever done by hitting a home run in 4 consecutive games all within his first 10 games in the majors, but he also hit .333 while driving in 7. At a boy Jason, we were all Kipnis’s. Now keep it up.

The problem that let those 4 games get away though was a part of the Indians game that much like Asdrubal and Masterson, had been the only other thing consistently great all season. Their bullpen. Aka – “The Bullpen Mafia“.

Throughout the year these group of guys have been lights out. Literally. Whether they were called in to service as early as the 5th inning to hold onto a slim margin, or just getting the call to bring in their Firestarter, Chris Perez to close it out in the 9th, there hadn’t been too many clubs with a pen on a level better than Cleveland’s. For the record, going into last week they ranked 4th in the AL and 10th in all of baseball with a 3.45 ERA. But after blowing 4 leads last week and giving up 11 runs in 17.1 innings to a tune of a 5.71 ERA, they now have fallen some, and simply, the club needs them to stand back up and deliver if they have any plans to make a fight of this.

Vegas insiders always recommend that you should never bet against a trend. In other words, last night the Pirates had lost 10 in a row before beating the Giants 5-0. Following this insiders guide they would have told you to bet SF in that game before betting Pitt, basically stating that thinking a team is due so the odds have to be in their favor is not something to lay currency down on. Obviously had you bet Pitt last night it would have paid off, but to do so at any other point during their losing streak and you would have been throwing away your money at it.

It’s all about playing the odds. If something is broken, don’t expect it to fix itself. Just like the cars I’ve been driving for the last few years. Which is why I usually end up walking.

This proven theory suggests that you shouldn’t bet the bullpen will turn it around for this series, however, you can also see how this past week was more the anomaly based on the pattern set by the pen all year. The sum of a season is greater than that of a week. And in addition going against the best sluggers in all of baseball might have only exacerbated the matter. So for this instance then, I’m going with the gospel according to Han Solo, “never tell me the odds”. I’m going all in on the Bullpen Mafia.

Well, mostly. Chris Perez generally concerns me. Which is also his style I think.

Wait, can you state being all in and then immediately follow that up by saying only mostly so? Ah, who cares, I’m pretty sure I just wanted to reference the gospel of Han Solo. A book so grand and true that not even the hubris of a bloated (in more ways than one) George Lucas and three abortions called “prequels”, could ever diminish.

I mean come on, not even “Cowboys vs. Aliens” could tarnish the rep of Han Solo (who sometimes goes as Harrison Ford), and that movie wasn’t even as good as the pinball game I played in the theater’s arcade before finally deciding on seeing it.

Back to the Tribe. Some good news to look forward to, Choo made his first rehab start last night in Lake County. Granted he went 0-2 at the plate while playing right field through 6 innings but getting this guy back and healthy is continuing the theme of the obvious I’m going with today. According to Bill Lubinger of the Plain Dealer, Choo “said he was a little nervous and his timing was a little off, but he otherwise felt comfortable at the plate and felt no pain.”

If this minors stint all goes well with no setbacks this should mean we might see him up here as early as this weekend, but currently the Indians have stated no expected date for his return to the lineup.

Also, Carlos Carrasco who was serving out his 6 day suspension saw that put on hold as he was put on the 15 day disabled list because of  some inflammation in his throwing elbow. The move was made retroactive to his last start and forced his suspension to begin once he’s activated. Jack Hannahan was reinstated to fill the roster spot for this series but another move will be required to get a starter up here when Saturday’s game against the Twins rolls around.

Here’s hoping David Huff won’t make any premature tweets about his being called up this time around like he did last year which ended up keeping him down in Columbus the rest of the year. Beyond how well Huff pitched the 3 games he was up (1-1 with a .051 ERA and a WHIP of .097), with the start needing filled being against the Twins, it would be a shock if they didn’t call him back up since his first game of the year was against them back on July 18th and he went 7 scoreless innings on 5 hits in getting the win. Besides, who doesn’t like having a left handed starter in the lineup, and Huff has been the only left hander to start a game for the Indians all year.

That said, 56-56 and you don’t want the team falling below .500 and you certainly don’t want them falling any further away from first.

Or, so says, “Captain Obvous”.

By the way, he also says, Go Tribe!


-Mike James

PS – the Browns practiced again and running back Brandon Jackson who is one of the few additions to have been acquired by the surprisingly lack of moves by the team. Brandon, who won the Super Bowl last year while with the Packers, said there won’t be any hugs going around pre-game from him before Saturday’s preseason game against his old team. He’s a Brown now, and he stated he’s not looking back, only ahead. That’s the spirit. 



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