Sometimes I like to sit back, take in a good old Cleveland Indians game, and write my random thoughts on the game, team, and season. Today I give you my first edition of Rambling with Rich for this 2012 Indians campaign. You might find this somewhat Bill Simmonsish but I don't care. Its not a true retro diary or anything like that so just enjoy it will ya! Jeez ha.
Our beloved Tribe is sitting 8-6 on the season helped by a very successful 7-2 road trip. They currently sit just a single game back of the mighty Detroit Kitties and their massive payroll. The Tigers are spending about 54 million more than our Indians this season. So far that has netted them two more wins on the season. We will see how this ends up. I still really wish the Tribe could have splurged one one more stick to put the payroll around 85-90 million in total to really have a shot at division contention. Oh well here is to hoping Johnny Damon is the savior.
My current rambling has picked up in the 5th inning in case you are wondering. Until this point I was laying motionless on my couch after a two mile run today. I don't run distance. Period. I'm athletic, but I do short distances and team sports. For some reason I am trying to figure out this distance thing currently. I digress. I am now able to sit up though and write.
Over the first five innings I can't help but think we might give this one away. The Tribe has had Sanchez on the ropes a few times but have not been able to get that clutch hit. Derek Lowe is pitching his backside off though which is really nice to see. If Lowe can have an ERA that hovers around 4.00 instead of 5+ as he did with ATL last year that would be a huge lift for the Indians rotation. Hopefully the Tribe can get him some run support tonight.
Shelly Duncan just drove in a run with a nice sac fly in the bottom of the 5th. Tribe up 2-1. For some reason I have always liked goofy Shelly Duncan. He never gets cheated at the dish and just seems like someone you would want to pound beer with.
Boom Supermannahan with a gapper! Two runs score and the Tribe goes up 4-1 to knock Sanchez out of the game. If Jack could consistently swing a stick even at .270 he could solve our problems at third. His uncharacteristic early season errors do not trouble me. He can handle the hot corner with the best of em on defense. Apparently the Indians felt my nervousness about giving this one away and responded.
The Indians really need to sweep the hapless Royals in this series. The Royals have lost 11 straight and the Tribe's schedule gets significantly more difficult after this series. Have to take advantage of a team that is down when you can.
Lowe still dealing as he gets out of a mini jam in the 6th. He has done a good job scattering the eight hits he has given up and limited his walks (only one). Lets see if we can get a few more and really let our bullpen take the night off here.
Check that Lowe's night might be over as he is at 96 pitches. We will see. I would have loved 7 IP out of him tonight but I suppose thats being a bit greedy.
Interesting watching Kipnis in the lead-off spot tonight. I really like Kip. I think he has a shot at being a consistent 25-30 HR guy. Hopefully the Indians can find a lead-off hitter as I really prefer Kipnis to hit down a little in the order to help drive in base-runners. Speaking of lead-off hitters Brantley has been soooooo disappointing to me. When we acquired him a few years back I thought he was going to be a player. He has yet to take that jump which is very concerning to me. He needs to wake up fast.
Just as I say id rather have Kipnis hit lower in the order he does his best Kenny Lofton impression with a bunt single and stolen base. Hmm Choo just walked, maybe if I say Santana simply cannot hit a HR right now this will work? Lets try. Carlos you are just not a power hitter!
2-2 count to Carlos... Santana just take your walk. We all know you cant put one out right here!
OUCH! Carlos just fouled a pitch off the catcher's umm well ball protector. That's just not fun. He might have a hard time calling for the old breaking ball the rest of this game. Yuck yuck yuck.
Oh well. Santana bounces out to end the inning. Still 4-1 Tribe. Would have been epic if that worked.
To start off the 7th I want to go into a mini rant about attendance. I really hope the city gets behind this team a little bit more in the early going. Ya its somewhat cold still. Yes I dislike the fact that ownership doesn't spend like we would like them to. Ya its a mid-week day, but come on people. Get down to the ball yard and support these guys. The Indians actually have a legit shot to be in contention deep into the regular season. They will need a few other things to go there way which I will touch on after the game, but one of the things they really need is us. They need the fans to get out to the park and create a little noise. I don't expect sell outs but actually having 20,000 people in the seats would sure be nice right now. As Clevelanders we all love to support our city. We are always the underdog and like that role. Lets go support these underdogs and send a message to the Dolans that if you build it we will come. Ok rant over.
Sipp now in to pitch for the Wahoos.
Somewhat funny story about Tony. A few years back I went to the Cleveland Zoo for a big Indians autograph signing. They put on these events for season ticket holders and normally have a good 10-12 players show up for autographs. Each player is located in a different part of the zoo. I was able to get autographs from Choo, Cliff Lee, David Huff, and a few others that day. As we were leaving I saw who I thought was Luis Valbuena standing alone at his autograph stand. The event was pretty much over, but I went up to Luis anyway and handed him a fresh baseball. I asked him for his signature (I really liked Valbuena back in the day, thought he had a shot to be our 2B of the future), stepped back and smiled. "Luis" looked back at me with his eyes a bit wide and said, "You just want me to sign this ball?" I said ya man please do. Id really like it. "Luis" smiled and scribbled his name on the baseball. As he handed it back he said that it was his first baseball that he had signed as a big leaguer where he was the only signature on the ball. I was honored, gave him a high five, and went on my way. About 50 feet into my walk I looked down at the ball and squinted as I read, Tony Sipp. I chuckled, looked at my then girlfriend, and said well honey that sure wasn't Luis Valbuena. Needless to say I'm pretty happy I have a Tony Sipp ball now. #bullpenmafia
Sipp mows em down in the 7th. Boy he needed that. Its been a rocky start to 2012 for Tony.
Quick scoreboard check. Detroit is down 6-4 in the 8th to Seattle. Its never too early in the season to take a peak as far as I'm concerned.
Hey Vinny! Pestano now in for the Indians. It would be nice to see the #bullpenmafia come in and pitch an uneventful 7th, 8th, and 9th. Sipp did his part.
Pestano makes it interesting in the 8th as he gives up a run, but is able to get of a 2nd/3rd jam with two outs by getting Escobar to ground back to him. I would like to get that run back here in the bottom half of the inning so that Pure Rage has a three run lead to work with.
Bottom of the 8th has started off really well for the Wahoos. A lead off single by Cunningham and a walk to Kipnis forces the Royals to go to their pen again. If the Indians get another base-runner I'm going to be greedy and want more than just a run this inning.
Choo out with a tight hammy which puts Jason Donald on deck. Lets hope ACab can find a gap.
ACab singles. Bases loaded with no outs. Should be Choo hitting. Instead its Donald. They must take advantage here. Put the woman, children, and Royals to bed right now.
Donald strikes out on three pitches. Choo's tight hammy may have cost the Indians a big inning here. Lets hope Carlos does not hit into a DP and conjures a little #batmagic.
Carlos pops out after battling yet again. This is looking poor. Two down now in the 8th with the bases still loaded. Hafner needs to come through here. A wasted opportunity would give the Royals some momentum going into the top of the 9th.
Hafner gives one a ride to deep center, but its caught. Lets hope Pure Rage brings it in the 9th. I won't be able to stomach blowing this game.
Of course Getz leads off the 9th with a double that was hit towards the just inserted, Jason Donald.
Kotchman with a nice defensive play to save a hit and get the innings first out. That is the difference between Casey and LaPorta right there. Even though Kotchman is struggling so far at the dish his defense is a welcome change at 1B.
Butler bounces out, Getz scores. 4-3, but now two outs in the 9th.
Hosmer singes to keep this one alive and Francouer steps to the plate. I can't lie im really nervous. If Jeff goes yard im throwing this laptop.
Whew. Francouer bounces into a force out to the end the game. Tribe wins to go to 9-6 in a game that was way closer than it should have been. I win is a win though and the Tigers also fell to Seattle so the Wahoos are now tied with the Kitties in the AL Central. (Yes I know the White Sox are also in the mix here, but I just don't care about them).
As I mentioned earlier I really do think this team can be in contention late into the season. They have a potentially potent starting rotation as well as bullpen. Defensively they should also be very solid. Here are three things that I think need to go our way for the Tribe to stick with the Motor City Kitties deep in the summer of 2012.
1) Jason Kipnis needs to take that important step forward and be a force in the lineup. The Indians did not go out and pay for a big time stick so they need one to develop. Kip has the most potential to do this. Im talking .280 and 25 + HRs. If Kipnis can produce to that level you could bat Kipnis, ACab, Santana, and Hafner 2-5 in the order. While not the Yankees that has some very nice potential especially given our team's pitching talent.
2) Ubaldo Jimenez needs to be an ace. For this team to contend we need two aces that win often at the top of the rotation. I know Masterson has been inconstent so far in 2012, but I have faith he will come around. The wild card for me is Ubaldo. Jimenez's velocity is down from his days with Colorado as his fastball is only hitting 91/92 mph regularly. This is a concern, but he can still be an ace if he works his off speed stuff in well and is effectively wild. Keeping hitters off balance will be key for Ubaldo in 2012. It also wouldn't hurt for him to loosen up a bit and maybe find an extra mph or two on the old heater as well.
3) The bullpen needs to live up to its nickname for the 2nd straight year. This is not an easy task as pens tend to flucuate from year to year. The Indians will need the #bullpenmafia to duplicate its success from 2011 to ensure the Tribe wins low scoring and 1 run games. Sipp/Pestano/Joe Smith/Raffy/Pure Rage are big time keys to the the 2012 season.
Well kids that puts me over 2000 rambling words. Remember to get down the Jake and support these kids. Lets help make some magic in 2012.
Until next time Wahoos. Keep the faith and Go Tribe!