Meanwhile in Cleveland
Two weeks ago baseball fans in Cleveland were already giving up. They were frustrated with a 5-10 team at the time whose starting pitching appeared even more questionable than most had already long predicted, and the hitting, which had been what this team was rebuilt around in the offseason, along with any hope, wasn’t living up to the hype. It looked grim, another long hot summer where we would be left wondering what to do for fun because going to see a baseball game wasn’t going to be an option.
Oh what a difference 14 days can make.
14 days ago the Tribe were hitting .228 as a team, had a .303 OBP, with a .436 SLG and a .739 OPS. Thus, 5-10. Then all of a sudden in the 11 games they’ve played since they hit .318 while posting a .376 OBP, a .537 SLG and a whopping .913 OPS! Essentially, the last two weeks is the reason why if you now check the MLB stats leader boards the Indians rank in the top 5 League wide in each of those categories. It’s also a large reason why they now sit just under .500 after having won 7 of those last 11 games.
Yay offseason hype! And bigger cheers for finally living up to it!
Yes it’s been quite a turnaround which has illustrated just how much the team was pressing earlier at the plate like the veteran voice in the clubhouse of Jason Giambi had suggested amidst all their early struggles. And welcome to what free and easy looks like. Led by Ryan Raburn whose torching pitchers his last 14 trips to the plate by producing an insane line of 12 hits with 4 home runs and 9 RBI, Asdrubal Cabrera who was hitting .118 prior to going on a 10 game hit streak which sees him hitting .378 over that span, Michael Brantley who’s come alive hitting safely in 9 of his last 10 games and hitting .348 in doing so, Mark Reynolds who continues to wield the biggest boomstick on the team we’ve seen in some time, and even Drew Stubbs is getting in on the act too by hitting over .300 the last couple weeks. In fact, the only everyday guys in the lineup to not see their stock increase at the plate the last two weeks are Swisher who’s battling injury, and Carlos Santana. And in the case of Santana it isn’t that he’s cooled off after having one of the best April’s for a Cleveland Indians hitter ever (see Wednesday’s post), it’s just that he’s only hit .385 over the last 14 days while he’s hitting .395 on the year and leading every player with a stick in baseball. Slacker.
And to think, they’re doing all this without Michael Bourn who is their leadoff hitter and one of the most talented guys in the lineup, if not thee most talented. Whatever they’re eating, keep giving it to them.
What’s that? What about that starting pitching over the last couple weeks, how’s it been? Well it’s showing signs of life as well. It may not be as dramatic a change as the hitting has seen, but outside of the club’s ace in Masterson getting rung up for 7 earned in his last start (thus equaling the total combined earned runs he’d given up on the year through his previous 5 starts), the starters have indeed improved as they’ve been approaching a quality start per outing these last 11 games (5.2 innings per with a 4.04 ERA), which if this crew can somehow maintain, even from but 3-4 starters each cycle through the rotation, the Indians might just find themselves in the mix of a division race this year, all year.
With all this recent good news to spread let’s just hope it reaches the fans, because right now the only thing that hasn’t improved for the Indians is their attendance. They rank dead last (again/still) in attendance at roughly 14 thousand a game, which is some 5 thousand less than what they averaged last year when they lost 94 games. Folks, that’s also some 2,ooo people a game less than what the Cavs just posted in a year that was their 3rd straight of abject misery, and maybe even their worst year yet since The Decision. That’s unacceptable no matter what you think you have as excuses for not going to see these Cleveland Indians. With the recent home stand starting up again tonight and then lasting the next 7 days to follow, however, here’s hoping the fans do catch on to what’s happening, and most of all, that this torrid streak continues.
– Mike James
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