Tribe drop two in a row to lose series to Rangers

Look a crappy but accurate headline. In light of these last two defeats and my general lack of interest in writing what is probably my 31st Indians series wrap this year I’m not going to go over the individual games but just hit some general points of interest.

- Aaron Laffey might as well be the best pitcher we have right now. In a recap of his win to open the series some Indians writer said Laffey was making a good case to be included in the rotation that already will include Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson. Hell, Laffey might as wel be our opening day starter if I had to pick someone right now.

- Fausto wasn’t too bad the other day. However the Indians couldn’t give him any run support.

- Tom Hamilton informed me that the Indians have not hit a homerun in the last six games at home and this is a Jacobs/Progressive Field record.

- The Rangers pitching coach came straight out and said the Indians are a bad offspeed hitting team. Straight ball we hit very much.

- The Rangers are a good team and has a number of good young arms pitching for them.

- I hear it was in the mid-70s today in Cleveland. I would have really liked to been there today, except for the losing part.

- Hey did you know Jamey Carroll has more post All-Star Game starts than Kelly Shoppach? Niether did I until I read the most recent post from the DiaTribe.

- Chris Gimenez is now hitting .190 and looks to be having a rough go of it in this his first callup.

- 17 of Luis Valbuena’s 50 hits are doubles.

- Despite his dominating performance at AAA Rafeal Perez has given up three runs in 1.2 innings since being recalled.

Game 1: Justin Masterson, RHP (3-3, 4.22) vs. Scott Baker, RHP (9-7, 4.85)
Game 2: David Huff, LHP (6-6, 6.72) vs. To be announced
Game 3: Aaron Laffey, LHP (6-3, 3.25) vs. Nick Blackburn, RHP (8-7, 3.99)

The Indians head off to a three game series at the baggy dome against the Twins of Minnesota. Yes it is another three game road trip. Last time Masterson was cut off after 60 pitches and interim-Manager Eric Wedge has indicated that Masterson will probably get to go 75 or 80 pitches this time out. Hey look who it is, my favorite opposing pitcher TBA. Originally last week Carl Pavano looked to be on tap for Game 1, but instead took his first loss as a Twin today. Moving on we have staff ace Aaron Laffey taking the mound to close out this road trip.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

August and Everything After

August isn’t the the best month for sports. The weather tends towards the warm side and the only real game in town is baseball. Those people excited about NFL camp are generally ignored. The fact that our Indians are having one of their worst seasons in fifteen even twenty years doesn’t help either.

Last week I mentioned the fact that the Dolans look to lose $16 mil on this 2009 version of the Indians. That, along with the fact that it seems all we can hope for is making the playoffs every four to five years, still is weighing on me. I even thought about making a whole post about it but the last thing this blog needs is more Indians coverage (by me at least). So I decided to just roll it into a series recap. Previously I had thought of the Indians as the only real smart kid on the block (yeah I know that’s silly in hindsight). Sure, we were never going to have a big payroll but we would have smart decisions on young guys and make decent decisions on signing grizzled veterans to cheap one-year deals. The more I think about it, though, the Indians can’t possibly be that dissimilar to other clubs, right?

The good news is the Al Central will never be as big spenders as the East and West coast teams. Although the White Sox picking up both Jake Peavy and Alex Rios this year may look like big money, their decision to pick up Rios and his remaining $60 million make me actually feel more secure in the Indians’ front office decision-making process. As long as the Indians aren’t one of those teams that appears to not be trying or just throwing occasional crazy money at the problem (Why did the Cincinnati Reds need Scott Rolen again?) then I should be happy.

Speaking of those White Sox of Chicago the Indians had a weird three-game road trip wrap yesterday and boy have these last few series taught us a lot about the AL Central. Friday was the Jeremy Sowers/Mark Buehrle pitching matchup we had all been looking forward to. And you know what, Sowers probably pitched his best game this year and I will not criticize him for the rest of the season. Sowers went seven innings limiting Chicago to just two runs on six hits. Buehrle, on the other hand, hasn’t been the same since his streak of recording outs. Kelly Shoppach pretty much was a one-man offense accounting for three hits, two runs, and four RBI on a two home run night. Tribe (47-62) win 6-2.

Saturday’s game was pretty much a spring training game. Having traded Carl Pavano last week the Indians had to find a spot starter. I asked FCF writer and editor Andy who he though would start – Justin Masterson or Tomo Ohka. He later informed me that Masterson was the announced starter. This was a little surprising since I knew Masterson couldn’t have gotten enough work in to go very deep, and I was right. What I forgot about was how these games don’t really matter as wins or losses. No, this game was more an opportunity to get Masterson some work as a starter. So the good news is Masterson did pretty well. He reached his 60-pitch limit after four innings but only gave up one run on four hits and four strikeouts. Not too shabby. The bad news was that he was replaced in the bottom of the fifth by Ohka. Ohka lasted 0.1 innings and allowed four runs on four hits. This, unfortunately, squandered a decent effort by not only Masterson but the offense as well. The doubles machine that is Jhonny Peralta continued on driving the Indians’ success at the plate, but it wasn’t enough to overcome asking our bullpen to cover the post-Masterson innings. Indians (47-63) lose 5-8.

Sunday’s game was most notable for the offensive outburst (outburst) of Jamey Carroll. If the Indians hold to their usual 2009 script, that can only mean Carroll should be claimed off waivers any day now. Carroll only had two hits but one of those was a home run, just his second of the year, and the other was a double that scored two to give the Tribe a 4-3 lead after trailing 3-0. Pitching-wise, David Huff had one of those ho-hum games. He was tagged for three runs in the second but settled down and ended up going 6.1 and allowing four runs. I guess not imploding is a good thing. White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras, on the other hand, could only muster 4.2 innings. Reportedly manager Ozzie Guillen was quoted as saying that the Cuban-born Contreras didn’t pitch well due to the heat. Really? Because doesn’t make a lot of sense. They got summer in Cuba right? Tribe (48-63) win 8-4 and take another series.

I don’t remember the last time I looked at the Indians in the standings. Wow my preseason prediction of the Royals not finishing in last place isn’t looking too good.

Game 1: Dustin Nippert, RHP (3-0, 2.73) vs. Aaron Laffey, LHP (5-3, 3.58)
Game 2: Tommy Hunter, RHP (4-2, 2.63) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (2-6, 6.66)
Game 3: Scott Feldman, RHP (11-4, 4.01) vs. Jeremy Sowers, LHP (4-7, 4.75)

Hey you remember the Texas Rangers right? They were that team the Indians faced on the crap-tacular opening series way back in April. Look at those Ranger pitcher records, weird. You know who I like in game 3? That’s right, Jeremy Sowers.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

First the bad news

Indians beat writer Anthony Castrovince has a wonderful wrap of two interview/press conference the Indians held over the last two days. The two major things to note are the Indians are looking to lose $16 million this year and over the last four years the Indians have only one playoff apprearance and that is probably as good as our front office thinks it can do with what it has been given.

Yeah these aren’t very cheery revelations. Sure we could have come to this conclusion on our own but having to be told it is a lot like learning there is no Santa Claus. Looking back on it competiting on a regular basis seemed a little far fetched but cheering for a sports team is often about blind belief that your team is just as good as any team and has every right to win every night.

OK enough doom and gloom. The Indians won another series today.

Tuesday’s series opener against the Twins was David Huff betraying everything I had said in my last series preview. Huff only went 4.2 giving up 11 hits and being tagged for seven earned runs. Well you might be asking about that offense of ours. Don’t even worry about it since we didn’t breakup the shutout until the bottom of the ninth. Back to back doubles (the only ones the Indians had in the game) in the ninth by Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner with one out was the sole scoring this team could muster. Jhonny and Travis also represent the only two players with multiple hits. Jensen Lewis pitched in relief of Huff and proceeded to give up a first pitch three run homer to Chris Gomez. So Jensen Lewis is back! Chris Perez and Tony Sipp both pitched hitless one strikeout innings. Tribe (44-62) lose big time 10-1.

Wednesday’s game was easier to watch, or listen to, believe me. First of all we had Aaron Laffey on the mound. You might remember Aaron as that pitcher with a winning record that we can expect to pitch for this team next year. The offense tonight was provided by number 1, 2, 3 and 9 spots in the lineup. Yes ladies and gentlemen Trevor “not Matt LaPorta” Crowe had two hits and scored two runs and an RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera was three for three and a pair of RBI’s. Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo also had two RBI and piece. Laffey on the other end of things had things locked down. Laffey pitched a career best eight innings scattering six hits allowing one run and striking out, what I believe might be a career high too, five. Mark DeRosa’s player to be named later Jess Todd made his Indians debut pitching a scoreless one hit, one strike out ninth. Tribe (45-62) win, kind of big time, 1-8.

Well if those games didn’t have enough tension for you then today’s game should have been more to your liking. Fausto Carmona making his second start since being recalled from a stint in the minors allowed a base runner in every inning he worked, often the leadoff hitter too. Carmona however worked out of those situations, just as you expected him to implode. Fausto finished the day with six innings, six hits, and three walks, holding the Twins to just one run. Tony Sipp turned in a solid 1.1 innings of relief before allowing a base runner and being replaced by Joe Smith who got out of the eigth unmolested. The Indians’ offense wasn’t having much success agaisnt Nick Blackburn who has pretty much owned the Indians to the tune of a 4-0 record coming in to today. Peralta’s sac-fly in fourth might help explain to you how he went oh for three with an RBI but Trevor “Micheal Brantley” Crowe’s seventh inning double scoring Hafner is what put the Indians up 1-2. Kerry Wood, who hasn’t pitched in five days, comes in and gets his club leading 15th save. Indians (46-62) win 1-2.

The Indians won another series and are winners of 10 of their last 15. I want to say I like the energy the new guys like Crowe, Chris Gimenez, and Wyatt Toregas bring but it could be that the Indians winning is what I’m attracted to right now.

Game 1: Jeremy Sowers, LHP (3-7, 4.97) vs. Mark Buehrle, LHP (11-5, 3.79)
Game 2: Carl Pavano, RHP (9-8, 5.37) vs. To be announced
Game 3: David Huff, LHP (5-6, 6.81) vs. Jose Contreras, RHP (4-10, 4.95)

Who runs these teams with records like 56-53 who can’t set a rotation? I guess when you’re possibly in contention picking who you want to pitch takes a little more thought. Or maybe when you have more than one option it could be difficult too. Now I’m not a betting man but who do you like in game one?

Our fine Indians radio announcers pointed out the Tribe have this three game series, get Monday off, return to Cleveland to face the Rangers for three, only to leave town again and head to Minnesota for three games, and get Monday off again to return home for a proper homestand.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Look we scheduled these things so we still have to play them.

If you haven’t already I recommend you read Anthony Castrovince’s blog post today Sooner or later, it all comes down to money and Paul Cousineau’s A Lazy Sunday and The End of an Era. Specifically AC’s article pretty much summaries what I was trying to get at in my last post, but in a more professional manner. PC touches on the how he has to explain to his wife the loss of Cliff Lee and Victor Maritnez. Often those closest to us and even ourselves sometimes forget how this is a business and trying to win is part of that business but so is making money. Unfortunately having the usual Cleveland sports mindset, especially in baseball I think, we often cling to players we like and can identify with since come the postseason we’re not exactly sure what to do with ourselves. So without the continuous hope of contention and the idea that players are moved for competitive reasons, often when we lose Jim Thome, or Omar Vizquel, or Victor Martinez we wonder why. We have a hard time believing people when they tell us in the long term this will make the team better when we’re not that kind of city. We don’t expect success but we do expect to see Victor behind home plate. That and trying to rationalize this to my dad during our weekly chat is not going to be easy.

OK enough of the past on to the present. Friday saw the return of Fausto Carmona. Following the 2007 season Fausto was signed to a long term deal (which we have been horrible at lately Hafner, Carmona, Westbrook) thinking that he was the post-C.C. ace of this team. Well thanks to Cliff Lee I finally got to witness a Cleveland Indians pitcher win 20 games but unfortunately Carmona has been on a free fall that took him all the way to Arizona rookie league. But he’s back. Previously I talked about how he has been sort of reined in. My fear was that while he may walk fewer batters he would also be less dominating. Logically I should be happy with a guy who can go seven innings. Turning Carmona into more of a pitcher and allowing him to better control his emotions are probably the best we can hope for over the rest of his contract. So what did we get from Carmona Friday? Only 5.0 innings with two earned runs and four walks. OK? Not exactly what I wanted but it’s his first day back and on a staff like this two runs in five innings is close to the norm. So what happened next. Well pretty much your usual 13 inning game. Involving relief appearances by Jose Veras, Rafael Perez, Tony “I’m just being used in single batter situations these days” Sipp, Joe Smith, a 1.1 innings blown save by Kerry Wood, and then somehow four innings of scoreless relief by Tomo Ohka. Offensively Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits and three RBI, Trevor Crowe’s three hits and three runs scored was pretty nice, but a 13th inning double by Jhonny Peralta and a single by Jamey Carroll provided the Indians the win. Tribe (43-60) win 5-6 in 13.

Saturday’s starter for the Indians was Jeremy Sowers, a guy I’ve been down on for a while. However Sowers pitch infuriatingly well. Often I just want him to suck and be released, but I guess I’ll just have to wait longer. Sowers’ 6.0 innings and two runs represent the high end of what Sowers can be expected do. The real treat was seeing newly acquired Justin Masterson’s Indians debut and pitching three scoreless while only surrendering two hits. Unfortunately this was another extra inning game and the Indians relief corp can’t be relied on twice in two evenings, can it? No, I guess not. Jose Veras is probably the only guy on this team who I can clearly question right now. Ohka showed he can provide long relief but Veras can’t possibly play into the Indians future. Luckily Veras did me a favor by balking in the winning run, as if to say “Look! Look how bad I am!” Tribe (43-61) lose 4-3.

Today’s starter was Carl Pavano. I’ve written at least three times in this blog that not trading Pavano makes no sense. And it appears that either this was dismissed by the readers of this blog either because they agreed with me or thought me too stupid to correct. It now appears that the Indians will get a Type B free agent compensation pick for Pavano which probably outweighs any return they would have gotten for him on the trade block. Today Carl Pavano showed why he is the ace of this staff. Well because he’s the oldest and has the most number of wins over his career, I guess. Anyway my kidding aside Pavano cruised and I mean cruised today. In the top of the seventh Pavano struck out Calros Guillen on three pitches, got Ryan Rayburn to flyout after two pitches, and Brandon Inge to flyout on one pitch. Six pitches and three outs. Of course Pavano pitching with an 11 run lead probably didn’t hurt. 11 runs, yes 11. Both Grady Sizemore and Cabrera homed with a guy on and two outs. Andy Marte had his first double of the season which scored Jhonny Peralta and Luis Valbuena. Actually just assume everyone had a two run double. Pavano finished the day after eight and allowing six hits and only one run, which came in the eighth, the only inning the Tigers had more than one hit. Jensen Lewis pitched the ninth striking out two in his return. Carl Pavano won his ninth game which is more than he had in four years as an overpaid Yankee. Tribe (44-63) win 1-11.

Game 1: Scott Baker, RHP (8-7, 4.86) vs. David Huff, LHP (5-5, 6.39)
Game 2: Francisco Liriano, LHP (4-10, 5.56) vs. Aaron Laffey, LHP (4-3, 4.08)
Game 3: Nick Blackburn, RHP (8-5, 3.83) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (2-6, 7.13)

David Huff isn’t exactly a thrilling pitcher, prospect wise or to watch even. He however does represent a solid starter that can’t be counted out against anyone. I think of him as the new Jake Westbrook. In game two the Indians face the Minnesota Twins’ version of Fausto Carmona Francisco Liriano who was shutdown before his last scheduled start due to forearm tightness. Despite what I may have said above him I still think Fausto can come back to be a decent number two or three pitcher for the Indians. He did OK against Detroit after the first inning and Thursday’s game will hopefully be another step in the right direction.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

You Lost Today Kid, But That Doesn’t Mean You Have To Like It

Now we come to the hardest part of any GM’s job, the trades. I didn’t trade everyone I wanted to, but I did trade of a lot of you.

I was thinking the other day of the feeling I had in mid to late 2007 and right before the 2008 season began. It was this feeling of even if things don’t work out at least we’re going to be good, right? Wrong. So what has happened over the last few days shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is obvious that the Indians ownership kind of went for broke this offseason. Well, as go for broke as you’ll probably ever see. By signing Kerry Wood and trading for Mark DeRosa 2009 was going to be a year of giving it the old college try, so to speak. However nothing really worked out as hoped. So that leads us to today.

Trading Victor Martinez hurts. Trading Cliff Lee isn’t too surprising. However Victor was our guy, our captain. He wasn’t playing for a lot of money and he was was always a trustworthy clutch hitter. Being from Venezuela he always wanted to be a shortstop and reportedly cried is eyes out when he was told to play catcher. While he occasionally flirted with Ted Williams like batting averages he wasn’t much for the limelight. In a previous post I said trade anyone not named Sizemore, Cabrera, Martinez, and Choo and I wish things had gone that way. By trading Victor you have ripped the heart out of the Indians fanbase who probably won’t return until something like 2007 happens again.

So how did we get here. The a fore mentioned signing of Wood and trade for DeRosa didn’t help. The team was forced into a situation of winning or at least competing this year to make good on this payroll. However, that didn’t happen. So with half of 2009 gone and the Indians not really drawing much attendance, something had to be done. Yes, sticking with the team we already had is an option but that probably leaves no flexibility for 2010 and this team needed pitching. So we traded anyone we could for pitching, simple as that.

Ryan Garko is a role player but not enough at first base. So he is off to the Giants

Rafael Betancourt had a big option on the table for next year which the Indians had no intention of picking up, so why not get something for him.

Cliff Lee is a great pitcher who was cheap and had a reasonably cheap option for 2010. However seeing the writing on the wall management decided to take the best trade they could get. Yes, the trade was underwhelming. But I’m sure it was the best one on the table. Trading Cliff Lee now was really the right choice. If 2010 is a wash getting what you could for him now is better than waiting for 2010 when his stock could be lower and teams only get a few months of service.

Victor Martinez was a forgone conclusion. Inside I want Victor to be an Indian forever but his future is pretty cloudy. He is a great hitting catcher but at first base he is just above average. He’s 30 and catchers aren’t known for there longevity. On top of that Victor’s defense and ability to throw out or even hold base-runners has been criticized. Oh and he has a history of injuries. So Victor’s gone. Unfortunately, as Paul Cousineau said over at the DiaTribe, to a team I can not cheer for.

Carl Pavano hasn’t pitched too well to really draw too much attention. But I suspect he might be a waiver away from being traded and keeping him makes no sense. The real albatross is the contract of part time DH Travis Hafner. With all this talk of payroll and budget cuts I can’t help but look at Pronk’s $11 million this year and next and then $13 million for 2012 and 2013. That’s a lot of years and money for a DH who can’t play everyday. Really it is a lot of money for any team let alone one as payroll focused as our Indians.

Like the title implies, while I’m going to have to except this trade and the fact the 2010 is probably going to suck that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Actually I wouldn’t be too surprised if we won more games in 2010 than we do this year.

Game 1: Edwin Jackson, RHP (7-5, 2.59) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (2-6, 7.42)
Game 2: Rick Porcello, RHP (9-7, 4.62) vs. Jeremy Sowers, LHP (3-7, 5.15)
Game 3: Armando Galarraga, RHP (5-9, 4.84) vs. Carl Pavano, RHP (8-8, 5.66)

So we finally have the return of the Fausto Carmona. Reports have been that he’s walking fewer guys but he just doesn’t have the same quality major league stuff. So tonight we see what the possibly neutered Carmona can do. The ballad of Jeremy Sowers continues Saturday. Someday he won’t be on this team. I’m kind of looking forward to that day. Our staff ace Carl Pavano takes the mound Sunday. Yep, just look at those ERAs, really something to behold.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Obviously Betancourt was weighing this team down.

If you don’t already know the results of this weekend’s Cleveland Indians series in Seattle, I hate to ruin it for you upfront, but the Cleveland Indians have now won four in a row. This series the Indians offense scored 9, 10, and 12 runs, while the Mariners mustered a grand total of just six runs, with three runs apiece coming in the last two games of this three game series.

Getting things started for the Indians was Aaron Laffey. Laffey pitched a gem, going 7.0 innings, allowing only three hits and recording a career-high seven strikeouts. Laffey was backed by an Indians offense that only scored one run the first six innings. Both Travis Hafner and Ben Francisco homered in the seventh to give Laffey a relatively safe margin of four runs. Joe Smith and Tony Sipp split the eighth inning two outs to one, respectively, and Rafael Perez pitched a two-strikeout ninth to close the book on the Mariners. Oh and the Indians scored five runs in the top of the ninth too. Indians (39-58) win 9-0.

Saturday’s game saw a bench clearing, well it wasn’t a brawl really. Everyone just stood around but the benches were cleared nonetheless. Anywho, Jeremy Sowers took the mound for the Indians and the last post I may have referred to him as pretty much just a AAA pitcher. Let’s not get too excited about this, but Sowers also went seven innings giving up, wait for it, zero runs. Offensively the Indians spread the runs out a little more this time scoring two, four, two, and two runs starting in the third inning and ending in the sixth. Chris Gimenez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and the hot-hitting Ryan Garko all homered with one guy on. Gimenez also had an awesome catch in right field to take away a home run. As for the fight, I’m not even going to go into details. However I will point out Jose Veras has pretty much sucked since we picked him up. This game’s effort saw him give up two runs on three hits before getting out of the ninth. Tribe (40-58) win 10-3.

Today’s series finally begins with me saying Cliff Lee started and pretty much ends with Jhonny Peralta hitting a grand slam. That’s all you need to know. Sure, Lee gave up two runs in the first but that was it. Did the Indians hit any home runs this series? Yes Grady Sizemore, the aforementioned Mr. Peralta, Hafner, and Francisco all homered bringing the grand total for the weekend to 11. Tribe (41-58) win 12-3.

Make no mistake: the Indians destroyed this Mariners this weekend. Tons of offense, amazing starting pitching were my ridiculously obvious reasons for this series sweep. Laffey’s outing was encouraging, Sowers’ was more maddening but as always well see him pitch again later, and Lee was his usual self. The offense coming alive was something we haven’t seen over a sustained stretch of three games yet this season. Sure, that series against the Yankees in New York was nice but this was different. So what does it mean? Probably very little. The Mariners are still over .500 and this is the same team the Indians lost three out of four in Cleveland just a week ago.

An interesting note is that the Indians will have faced nine straight left-handed starters coming Monday. I hope Garko and Francisco have enjoyed it.

The Indians now head to California to take on the Angels.

Game 1: Carl Pavano, RHP (8-8, 5.48) vs. Joe Saunders, LHP (8-6, 4.94)
Game 2: David Huff, LHP (5-4, 6.39) vs. Jered Weaver, RHP (10-3, 3.57)
Game 3: Aaron Laffey, LHP (4-2, 3.71) vs. John Lackey, RHP (6-4, 4.22)

I like our chances against Saunders tomorrow. Hopefully, the good Carl Pavano shows up. Jered Weaver and John Lackey are two pretty good pitchers. Weaver has been good all year and Lackey is coming off two strong starts. Starting pitching is what has really impressed these last two series and hopefully David Huff and Laffey can keep it going.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Wait, did we just win a series?

Without even paying too much attention the Indians went out and won a series. On the road even. Over a .500 team. real surprise was both wins were one run games. One was even a come from behind victory. Too bad no one is really going to notice.

The Tribe and the Blue Jays opened a three game set at the Rogers Center in Toronto Tuesday with our pitching savior Cliff Lee facing off against Brett Cecil (3-1). The Cleveland offense had been asleep for a few games and this game was no different. Luckily for the Tribe Lee was pitching a well. His only big mistake coming on a solo shot by Scott Rolen, who is having a pretty decent season with a .849 OPS, in the seventh. As far as Indians offense all you need to know is what took place in the top of the ninth. Ryan Garko pinch hits for Kelly Shoppach and proceeds to get an infield single. Yes, Ryan Garko legged out an infield single. Garko is so quick he was immediately pinch run for by Luis Valbuena. Next up Grady Sizemore attempts a sac bunt but Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay throws to second to get Valbuena but his throw is off and continues into the outfield. Valbuena ends up at third and Grady is now on second with zero outs. The Blue Jays intentionally walk Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases. Shin-Soo Choo grounded into a fielders choice that went to home plate for the force out. Victor Martinez comes to the plate having gotten a hit in only 9 of his last 83 at bats. The first pitch was hit foul and the second one was a called strike. Victor is down two strikes and hits a double into left field. Both Sizemore and Cabrera score and we have two on with only one out having taken the lead 2-1. Hafner strikes out swinging, Peralta walks to load the bases again with two outs, and then Ben Francisco grounds into a fielders choice. Inning over but what an inning. So you’re Eric Wedge you have Cliff Lee on the mound with a one run lead in the ninth. Do you send him back out there or bring in your $20 million dollar reliever with Toronto hitters Vernon Wells, Rolen, and Overbay the number three, four, and five hitters coming to the plate? Well you let Cliff pitch the ninth and he goes one, two, three. Tribe (37-57) win 2-1.

Wednesday’s game was less fun. Thanks to a seven run effort by Carl Pavano in 4.2 innings followed by Jose Veras’ 1.1 innings which plated three more Blue Jays. Offensively the Indians put up a heroic effort helped by a three run homerun by Valbuena but it wasn’t enough with the Indians first two pitchers spotting the Blue Jays 10 runs. Indians (37-58) lose 6-10.

Thursday’s game was exciting too but I won’t go into as much detail. David Huff, who seems to alternate good and bad starts, went 7.2 innings allowing four runs (which is good I guess). The Blue Jays pitchers on the other hand only allowed two runs. However, thanks to two Toronto errors Kerry Wood picked up his 13th save of the season. Tribe (38-58) win 5-4.

The big news this week, besides these amazing victories, was the trade of Rafael Betancourt to the Colorado Rockies. In return the Indians got relief pitching prospect Connor Graham. In every article on Graham I’ve read it mentions how he is 6-6 235 lbs. Yes, he is a big guy who throws in the low to mid 90′s. Control has been an issue which shouldn’t be surprising for a guy who has only pitched in high-A ball. The Indians are sending him to AA Akron. The real reason the Indians made this trade was they thought that Betancourt’s 2010 option of $5.4 million wasn’t looking like it was going to happen and they felt their return was worth more than what they were giving up. Relief pitching prospects are scare in the Indians system if you didn’t know. Senior Slo-Mo will be missed.

Word around the internets seems to speculate that neither Lee or Martinez are probably going to be moved. The asking price being too high for either. The post steroid era seems to skew performance back to the under 30 crowd so teams must be considerate of how valuable a cheaper, young, and maybe better player is.

The Indians take on Seattle again this weekend beginning a six game West Coast trip. Hopefully the results against Seattle are a little better this time around.

Game 1: Aaron Laffey, LHP (3-2, 4.27) vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP (0-0, 0.00)
Game 2: Jeremy Sowers, LHP (2-7, 5.77) vs. Erik Bedard, LHP (5-2, 2.70)
Game 3: Cliff Lee, LHP (6-9, 3.17) vs. To be announced

For the record Ryan Rowland Hyphen Smith is a lefty who has never faced the Indians. I’m leery of any lefty call-up against the Indians based solely on their history against them, despite the fact I know history doesn’t mean much of anything. Jeremy Sowers gets another shot to show everyone how he’s a AAA pitcher. I don’t remember seeing half this many TBA pitchers last year. If the Indians can set some semblance of a rotation I suspect most teams should be able to as well.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

So what happens now?

As a quick crib Terry Pluto had an article yesterday 13 thoughts on what should happen in the Cleveland Indians’ second half of the season I suggest you check out. My feelings mirror much of Mr. Pluto’s so what are those.

- Trading Carl Pavano is a no brainer. Actually it would probably be stupid not to. Resigning him is pretty much out of the question since the Indians’ payroll next year shouldn’t be expected to grow, since the weather’s lousy, downtown is a pit, the stadium’s falling apart, and we can’t draw dick. Well the stadium isn’t falling apart but that drawing dick part is true and isn’t helping things.

- Actually trade everyone you can not named Sizemore, Cabrera, Martinez, and Choo.

- Victor Martinez is someone I don’t want to see traded because he seriously signed a below market deal to stay an Indian.

- Cliff Lee is the only pitcher we have that is even close to reliable. However if the brain trust who put this year’s contender together thinks the return is worth it, I really won’t shed too many tears over losing a pitcher I’ve been a fan for a long time.

- No one is taking Hafner or his contract so I guess he’s going to be an Indian for a few more seasons.

- I’m not sure what we are doing with the bullpen so I’m not even going to mention it.

- Where is Matt LaPorta anyway?

- If Wedge is done this year can we get Bobby Valentine back from Japan?

The Indians return to action tomorrow with a four game series against the Mariners. The following are your expected starters.

Game 1: Garrett Olson, LHP (3-2, 4.42) vs. Cliff Lee, LHP (4-9, 3.47)
Game 2: Felix Hernandez, RHP (9-3, 2.53) vs. Tomo Ohka, RHP (0-3, 6.40)
Game 3: Jarrod Washburn, LHP (6-6, 2.96) vs. David Huff, LHP (4-3, 6.71)
Game 4: Erik Bedard, LHP (5-2, 2.63) vs. Aaron Laffey, LHP (3-2, 4.24)

Back in the day when Canton had a Frontier League team they had guaranteed wins, where if you brought a ticket from a loss you could get into another game. Well Tomo Ohka’s starts are looking more like guaranteed losses. Last series he was teamed up against Detroit’s All-Star Indian killer Justin Verlander and now he draws Felix Hernandez. Prove me wrong Tomo, prove me wrong! Otherwise the absence of Pavano is the obvious factor here. Pavano shouldn’t be in an Indians uniform for too much longer.

Marge: What makes you think this Darryl Strawberry character is better than you?
Homer: Marge, forget it. He’s bigger than me, faster than me, stronger than me, and he already has more friends around the plant than I do.
Bart: You make me sick, Homer. You’re the one who told me I could do anything if I just put my mind to it!
Homer: Well, now that you’re a little bit older, I can tell you that’s a crock! No matter how good you are at something, there’s always about a million people better than you.
Bart: Gotcha. Can’t win, don’t try.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

They were who we thought they were.

The Tribe played a three game series against the very much and still in first place of the AL Central Detroit Tigers in that expanse of a ballpark they call Comerica. Were there some highlights? Sure this is baseball, but mostly it was pretty much the same results we’ve come to expect from these Indians over the last couple of months.

Friday’s series opener saw Edwin Jackson and Cliff Lee taking the mound for their respective teams. While Lee went seven innings and gave up three runs on five hits Jackson’s line of seven innings one run on four hits was better. Cliff Lee got no run support and that pretty much says it all. That single run is thanks to Ryan Garko (starting in the huge right field in Detroit) hitting a solo shot in the fifth. Garko in the outfield meant Kelly Shoppach and his .194 average was behind the plate. Having to squeeze Victor Martinez, Shoppach, Garko and Travis Hafner into a lineup is not a part of Eric Wedge’s job I envy. Tribe lose (34-53) 1-5.

Saturday’s game was the first STO game I’ve seen this year thanks to a free MLB.TV preview. I missed the first few frames due to a phone call but I saw what I suspect were the important Cleveland Indians parts. It was Negro League night before a sold out crowd in Detroit, so the Detriot Stars were taking on the Cleveland Buckeyes. Carl Pavano had a really good game for the Buckeyes. He got a first pitch strike on 90% of the Stars batters he faced. That and eight innings of work and Pavano was everything a team playing this bad could ask for. The Buckeyes didn’t have a homerun but did hit four doubles and a triple by Grady Sizemore. OK one of those doubles was stretched into a triple and Luis Valbuena was called out because the umpire couldn’t see that a tag was never applied but that’s the way it goes I guess. The play that put the Buckeyes up for good was a two RBI single hafner blooped into left field that Ryan Raburn had in his glove but couldn’t hold on to on a dive. After that Pavano cruised. Kerry Wood, who is our closer and all, was called on to pitch the ninth. Wood walked Placido Polanco on four straight fastballs and after falling behind Miguel Cabrera 1-2 he gave up a two run homer making it a one run game. After that Wood settled down and got two fly outs to the outfield and an infield ground out. Kerry Wood’s outing aside this was a nice game. The picture for this article is of a Adam Everett bunt that Peralta fielded barhanded and threw a strike to Garko at first. It was a impressive play. Other than that some guy named Clete Thomas is platooning with Magglio Ordonez in right field. Really Clete? Buckeyes (35-53) win 5-4.

Sunday’s match-up was All-Star Justin Verlander against Tomo Ohka. Guess how this one turned out? I’ll make this short. Ohka goes 3.2 allowing five, followed by Mike Gosling’s 1.1 and three runs, followed by Winston Abreu’s 1.0 and two runs, Chris Perez and Rafeal Betancourt finish off the final two bottom frames with scoreless innings. The Indians lone run came in the ninth. Jhonny Peralta walks, Valbuena hits a double, Ben Francisco walks to load the bases and then Jamey Carroll walks. Take that, shutout! Tribe (35-54) lose 10-1.

The good news is we have the All-Star game to thank for a break in this mess of an Indians season. Tomorrow is the sometimes way too long homerun derby followed by the game Tuesday and an off day Wednesday and we don’t have to see this team take the field again until Thursday against the Mariners. With Pavano’s excellent eight inning Saturday his future is almost guaranteed to be with another team come the July 31st trade deadline. So expect to see a lot more of Ohka and Jeremy Sowers since they might not be going anywhere soon.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

And the Tribe played on.

I’m going to say that we’ve hit an all new low in Indians interest here but they keep playing them so I occasionally listen to them, at least for a few innings.

Game one was a typical Jeremy Sowers start, he was doing OK for a few innings only to see it fall apart after the fourth. Jeremy’s customer 5.1 innings resulted in four earned runs on five hits. Newly acquired Chris Perez pitched the rest of the sixth inning, which resulted in two more earned runs and his second blown save. Yes, he already has two blown saves with us. Chris you’re fitting in just fine. Fellow newcomer Winston Abreu did his best to fit into our bullpen scheme by getting one out and surrendering four runs on three hits. I once named a cow Winston, after Sir Winston Churchill. Somehow everyone’s favorite back end reliever Tomo Ohka pitched the remaining 1.2 innings and didn’t allow a hit. Offensively Grady Sizemore did hit two homeruns netting a whole three runs batted in. Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner both had two hits each. If you’ve added up all the runs given up by Indians pitching you might see where this is going, Indians (33-51) lose 6-10.

Thursday saw the return of Aaron Laffey to the Indians starting rotation. While his rehab starts from the oblique injury were less than spectacular he is back after missing the required minimum six weeks the oblique injury seems to require. Unfortunately for Laffey and the Tribe they were facing Jose Contreras who has been lights out since being sent down to AAA and recalled. Maybe the White Sox threatened to send him to back to Cuba because Contreras had the Indians swing and missing on his way to striking out nine Indians in 6.1 innings of work. Laffey did OK but maybe six weeks off and some bullpen work hadn’t done him any real favors as demonstrated by his 6.0 innings and four runs of seven hits. Actually four runs in six is above average for this staff, so I guess Laffey did fine. Jhonny Peralta hit and scored the only Indians run with a solo shot off Contreras in the seventh. Other than that the only other highlight was Chris Perez pitching a scoreless and hitless eighth. Indians (33-52) lose 1-5.

Today’s day game was intermittently listened to through the flimsiest constructed free Chinese made headphones you can find in Mexico. About halfway through the game the right speaker goes out and listening to the game becomes almost unbearable, but not for the usual reasons. Kelly Shoppach had one hit, a grand slam, and two walks and two strike outs. What are the three true outcomes again? Ryan Garko added four hits and Peralta chipped in three and Choo struck out three times going hitless. Pitching wise this wasn’t a game for that. Three of the six pitchers used by the White Sox combined for ten walks. Chicago reliever D.J. Carrasco accounted for five in 1.2 innings alone . On the other side of the coin David Huff (pictured above since I wasn’t even sure what he looked like) gave up a massive eight runs on eleven hits in 4.1 innings. However, the Indians’ bullpen some how, some way, (keeps coming up with funky *** **** like every single day) pitched 4.2 innings of shutout ball. The headline being that Kerry Wood pitched his first ever 1.0+ inning save going 1.1 innings. Betancourt pitched a scoreless inning and it was nice to see him back. The Tribe (34-52) was ahead all day and needed every single run to win 10-8.

Well I’m beyond the point of saying stuff like, Garko shouldn’t be in the outfield (he had a few hits today and a clutch RBI) and Sowers should be pitching out of the bullpen. What I will say is when our radios announcers spend a good deal of time talking about the Twins and the White Sox playing a series this weekend you get the sense that this season is over for those only interested in competitive baseball.

The Indians head to Detroit for a series against the Tigers who lead this AL Central by 2.5 games.

Game 1: Cliff Lee, LHP (4-8, 3.45) vs. Edwin Jackson, RHP (6-4, 2.59)
Game 2: Carl Pavano, RHP (7-7, 5.36) vs. Armando Galarraga, RHP (5-7, 5.03)
Game 3: Tomo Ohka, RHP (0-2, 5.65) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (9-4, 3.59)

Wait Ohka? Didn’t he pitch in relief Tuesday? Yes, Carmona isn’t ready and so To-mo Oh-ka (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) is taking the mound. The Cliff Lee / Edwin Jackson matchup is obviously the pitching centerpiece of this series.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/David Banks)

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