I find that it becomes much easier to write when things go the way they did last night. So, let's go ahead and do that more often.
June 15th 2011
Cleveland Indians - 6
Detroit Tigers - 4
W: Fausto Carmona (4-8) L: Charlie Furbush (1-1) S: Chris Perez (17)
We've used this space to preach about keeping things in perspective about the offense. You've got a lot of guys in slumps, and your best hitter is still working out issues. Other teams have gone through their own fair share of struggles and every team at some point or another goes through a prolonged series of frustration. It's how you minimize it. I think the Indians have minimized it very well thus far.
But the minimization has to end there. And if last night was any indication, it just may. That was the offense from the Indians we've come to know and love here in 2011. Station to station baseball at times, just coming up with hit after hit, and base knock after base knock with runners in scoring position. Walks here, walks there. Bloop hit there and a big double there. It was all working. And down 3-0 no-less. The guys battled back in true Tribe fashion.
"I don't remember the last time we had this type of offense," manager Manny Acta said. "It's been a while."
A night after almost getting no-hit by the ultra-nasty Verlander, it should be a big confidence boost to go out and collect 13 hits. Makes them think, hey, maybe that Verlander guy was just really really good. Well, that's true, they don't have to think it, they should know it. But it can be a nice boost of morale to know they can go out there and do what they've done many times this year.
Let's talk heroes in this one. Number one, I'd go with Shin-Soo Choo, who finally looked like his old self. He scored three times, was on base three times, had a couple of nice hits, and all his at-bats were great. He was patient, actually saw the second most pitches, only two less than LaPorta with 27. So really, it was the Choo we've been accustomed to, within a lineup playing like we've become accustomed to this season.
He really created for Matt LaPorta and Orlando Cabrera, who both knocked in two runs. Orlando had three hits and LaPorta had two including an RBI groundout. Those guys really powered this one it just goes to show you how easy it can be when you got a few guys producing in the given situations.
Cabrera talked about the momentum shift and it came when Choo was at the plate and Asdrubal advanced to second on a Penny wild pitch. Of course that set the tone as Penny walked Choo and then just lost it. The only out he recorded was a sac-bunt by Hannahan and Leyland had seen enough.
"At that particular moment he did it, and we were talking about it early in the game, Manny was telling us [to be aggressive], and he did it and we got pumped up," Orlando Cabrera said. "We really got the momentum right there and were able to put a couple hits together and score those runs."
Even Lou Marson got in the act and he had two hits to continue his nice little streak of games. He's now on a four game hit-streak with 6 hits in his last 13 at-bats. His bloop single in the fourth was key to tying it up and extending the inning for Grady Sizemore to hit a sacrifice fly to take their first lead.
Then you have to love the Indians coming back an inning later after Detroit tied it right back up and regaining the lead. again Orlando Cabrera coming up with the big hit.
All this offensive happiness in the midst of a Fausto Carmona outing. And that was interesting to say the least. Carmona has been searching for a win, hadn't notched one since May 3rd. Two of the runs he gave up were unearned and really, it was encouraging. he threw a lot of pitches for just five innings, but it's a step in the right direction and at least. A win, to build some confidence, and five solid innings in which he doesn't implode waist up.
Go back and look at that fourth inning in which Brennan Boesch ended up scoring. After a Ramon Santiago single, Carmona got a double play ball from Austin Jackson. But both the speed of Jackson and Santiago broke up the play at both bases. In the end, Carmona did a fantastic job to limit the damage. Perhaps that added to all the pitches built up through just five and caused the exit.
But I'd say the Fausto outing was one much needed to help calm the nerves. Acta said that even if he didn't have a lot of pitches, he wasn't going to send Carmona out for the sixth. He left with the lead and Acta wanted his horse to go out on a high note for next start's sake.
"Fausto goes out there, down 3-0 in the very first inning, and these guys could be thinking, 'Here we go again,'" Acta said.
The key for Fausto was getting through that fifth. He got Martinez and Ordonez to start the inning, but gave up a single to Alex Avila. That brought up Jhonny Peralta and the count went full. If he didn't get Peralta, that may have been the end of him in terms of his game. Acta could have very well pulled him like Leyland pulled Penny. But Carmona buckled down and realized he was pitching to Jhonny Peralta, so he threw him a slider.
Acta said the clubhouse was happy for Carmona to get him the win. They should feel pretty good themselves considering they've let some winnable pitching performances take losses. This wasn't exactly a winnable performance, but Carmona certainly didn't pitch all that bad.
I more than anything am happy to see them do it when you thought it least likely. It seemed like it was a "here we go again" type of a deal when they went down 3-0. To battle back, may just give them that spark to reignite the fire here. We'll see in the coming days, but this is certainly an encouraging sign.
Chris Perez is in some kind of zone right now. He's firing on all cylinders at the moment. Painting corners, hitting low in the zone. Getting some nasty movement on his slider. Untouchable right now.
The bullpen leading up to Perez was fantastic. Pestano and Sipp walked a hitter each, but Raffy's sixth inning was clean and Sipp ended the eighth with some emphasis.
Hahahaha Jhonny Peralta....
Quiet productive night for Jack Hannahan who moved runners over with a sacrifice, coaxed a walk, and singled. It broke a three-game hitless streak. He had seemed to be getting things going during a three game stretch against Minnesota and New York but tailed off after that.
As a sign that maybe luck is starting to turn, that seventh inning run was a total production of luck. Choo gets to second on a single because Brennan Boesch can't handle it. Then advances to third on a wild pitch. Ends up scoring on a groundout. You'll take it, but those situations haven't been happening lately, with just adds to the lack of real offense.
Carmona with the knee high socks for the first time I believe. He looked good and I sort of jinxed him on Twitter when I said something about creating good karma. Of course right after that he gave up the bomb to Boesch. Still, he came out victorious, so I think he'll have to go with the socks again moving forward.
[CLEVELAND FAN EXTRA INNINGS]
With the win, the Indians regain first over Detroit by some mere percentage points because they've played two less games. Don't look now though but the Chicago White Sox are just 4.5 back, despite their loss last night.
No other division in the entire game is really out of reach yet. Philadelphia has built up a five game lead over Atlanta, but Atlanta is seven games over .500, a better record than all but two teams in the American League and three in the National League. Everything is bunched right now and I think that's how it will be all season. At one point Cleveland had the biggest lead out of all the division leaders.
Something that's gone by the wayside is the run differential. The Indians went from having one of the best in the game to being just five runs ahead of how many they've given up. OF course they've given up 285, which is seventh in the American League. They've scored 290, which is eighth. I'd still say it would be the offense as much to blame in terms of why that run differential has dropped. It will do that when you get shutout six or so times in the past month or so.
Look at it this way in regards to the Central. Four teams in the East are at .500 or better right now. Only two are at that status in the Central. Now the White Sox may very well reach and hurdle over that, but if they do, either Minnesota or Kansas City will have to fall further back, or Cleveland and Detroit will have to lose steam, or both. It is incredibly crucial for the Indians to win their upcoming Interleague games and hope their competition at least evens out. They're off to a great 3-0 start, but after going 12-10 against the AL East (while everyone else in the Central is .500 or below) in this first halfish of the season, they need to find an equalizer. So far, Detroit has been world beaters within the division, going 14-7.
Cleveland is next best at 13-11 and Minnesota has also played well at 12-10.
Like I've been saying, the order doesn't matter so much as the hitters in the order hitting. That's really what happened last night. And of course Orlando, Choo, and LaPorta were big reasons for that. So Michael Brantley hitting third in the order really is of no big matter if you ask me.
Even so, he isn't changing his approach and he shouldn't.
"There's enough pressure in this game already, so you don't need to add any more pressure on yourself," he said. "It's really just trying to keep the even keel and stay ahead of the game, so stay positive and try to do the best you can for your team."
Brantley has been all over this lineup in 2011. He's been leadoff, he's been in the middle, he's been lower in the seventh spot. He is a prototypical leadoff or two-spot hitter based off his skill set, but Acta put it best. Right now, Asdrubal and Michael are the best hitters when it comes to hitting the in the clutch so you want them right in the middle where they have the best RBI opportunities.
Orlando Cabrera did have a great game last night and it was at the expense of Cord Phelps not playing. Acta says that it's a little early to assess Phelps, but he has to make some adjustments. Perhaps that is why he gave Phelps some time off.
Could this have sparked Uncle Orlando though? He's sort of had a little bit of fire after the "change" and he got his 2,000th hit the other night. Maybe it has lit a little bit of a fire under him. If that is the case, then, you'll take it.
Travis Hafner didn't play last night for Akron. Should be in the lineup tonight and I will be in attendance, so I get to see him in person. Expect a full report. He was at Progressive Field on Wednesday doing some drills and said he felt good.
The Indians and Mariners have rescheduled the May 14th game to be played on August 23rd at 1:05 PM. It will be a day-night double header with the originally scheduled game taking place at 7:05 PM.
Hey... Progressive Field is going to be turned into a Hockey venue in January. Great to hear. Ohio State and Michigan are planning to play a game on the field as the Indians continue to look to utilize their space when it isn't being used by the baseball team and just sitting there.
This was something that I thought they should do, perhaps even more than Snow Days. I was thinking a few of the local colleges who are big in hockey, like a Miami of Ohio.. But to get a big time hockey program like Michigan, and of course a school like Ohio State, is pretty nice.
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You can follow Nino on Twitter @TheTribeDaily where he tweets about sending AC2AZ. You can also read more Morning Rundown and other features at his blog, The Tribe Daily.