What's that saying? And the meek shall inherit the earth? Yeah, if the meek continue to lose games, it may be awhile before they inherit anything.
April 24th, 2012
Kansas City Royals - 3
Cleveland Indians - 4
W: Derek Lowe (3-1) L: Jonathan Sanchez (1-1) S: Chris Perez (7)
The meek of course, are the Royals, who have now lost 12 straight after the Indians did it again. Since the two teams last met over a week ago, yeah, the Royals still haven't won.
And they're streak continues. They didn't win a single game out of the 10 they had at home and they'll go all of April without winning one as they don't have another home game until May.
I'd hate to be cheering for Kansas City right now, but we know what it feels like.
So for once, it's good to be on this side. Of course coming into this one, the Indians had only one home win themselves, so to get that victory over the sputtering Royals, was indeed a big one. Series are also easier to win when you win the first one.
So, go get 'em. Beat the Royals while they are down. Their offense doesn't seem to be doing much and it is only a matter of time before it actually does because that is the one thing that this team has. Their pitching is bad and there were clear signs of it as a guy they intended on being one of their best starters had some clear troubles.
It is just unfortunate that an offense that has been taking advantage of the more un-advantageous situations couldn't get it done in the several situations they had when Jonathan Sanchez was on the ropes.
"We would've loved to score more runs," Acta said. "But, we won. That's what counts."
And if you don't think SEVEN walks was on the ropes... Yikes... Seven? And on top of that he led off the game in the only way that is explainable, by hitting Jason Kipnis.
Yeah, let's uh start off that way. As if there wasn't any chance for controversy. Things seemed to be all good though through that, especially since the Indians took full advantage by getting a nice return from Asdrubal Cabrera and his double and a sac-fly by Carlos Santana.
But back to the seven walks, one of which came in the first to Travis Hafner.
Three more in the second to lead off the inning with probably your three most least concerning bats, Hannahan, Kotchman, Cunningham.
Then he practically does it again in the fifth before exiting when he walks Cabrera, strikes out Choo and then loads them up with walks to Santana and Hafner.
In the fifth, the Indians took advantage, Shelley Duncan's sac-fly gave them the lead and a double from Super Mannahan extended that, giving us some sort of salvage and doing that whole "two-out" song and dance.
It's unfortunate that the knock out punch had a little less oomph as it could have had. As the Indians let that opportunity in the second go by the wayside. Instead of it being a definitive exclamation point, it turned into simply a minimal lead that was tested by the bullpen. When the bottom of your order coaxes three walks to lead off the inning, you have to do better than no runs. You absolutely CAN'T do no runs.
Jason Kipnis committed the first biggest sin by swinging at the very first pitch, which ordinarily would not be a big deal for most other than a cliff-note. But in doing so, he popped up and made a quick out. He took an advantageous position and completely wasted it.
Then Asdrubal Cabrera commits the second biggest sin with the bases loaded, by grounding into a double play. Of course Cabrera has no control over where the ball goes once he makes contact, but he too was swinging at the first pitch and did not take a count in which Sanchez threw three off-speed pitches. Shame, shame.
So in the end, thank goodness for Jack Hannahan, who is completely out-earning his paycheck. He's not overachieving either. This isn't the same Hannahan from last season that was just going on a home-run binge. The guy hasn't hit one since Opening Day. He's getting it done with good old fashioned tough-hitting.
Of his 13 RBI, 10 have come with two outs and all of them have come with runners in scoring position. That's a hitter. I don't care who you are, what your career average is. If you are presented with these opportunities and you are coming through, you are doing something right.
"He's flying high, confidence wise," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We want to see him up there. He's already been huge for us in a few games. His heartbeat is probably a lot slower than a lot of the yougner kids that we have here."
There is such a thing as late blooming. Jack Hannahan hasn't always been the greatest hitter, maybe he wasn't the best on his college team, but he had to have known something about swinging the stick or he wouldn't have made it as far as he has on glove alone. Maybe this guy has made the necessary adjustments at the big league level. Maybe just maybe, some people need to realize there is something more than just a serviceable defensive third baseman here in this guy.
I won't say anymore, but he's hitting. He won't continue this unworldly production (even though it isn't out of this world, just out of Hannahan's world), but I think there's something here worth holding onto for longer than a few months until Chisenahll is deemed ready. And if there is any doubt that Jack Hannahan is a perfect fit for this town, Terry Pluto removes it all.
The other story is Derek Lowe's great start and he's now gotten himself back on track after the blunder in Seattle. I guess he just never really liked that place after they traded him.
Lowe was more than sufficient yet again, going six very strong innings, giving up one run off another high number of hits (8). However the key as it seems to be with him in his three wins is the low walk total. Lowe called it a 'typical team win' that had good defense and timely hitting.
"They've had  hits in two games against me and somehow we've scored enough runs," Lowe said. "As long as you can stay away from that one big inning. They had a chance there with the bases loaded [in the fourth] and we were able to get out of it and kind of keep the momentum going."
If there's anyone who's going to benefit from Lowe's presence, it will be Josh Tomlin as he's essentially looking at his future. Lowe's way of surviving is the way Tomlin has been living the past year.
Michael Brantely did not start, as Acta said it was just a day off. He did come into the game late as a defensive replacement for Shelley Duncan, with Cunningham sliding over to left field. However I find it kind of weird when someone gets an off day after an off day. Same principle with Kotchman getting an off day before an off day. Makes me think it's more than just an extended breather. Also, worth noting that Hamilton and Rosenhaus on the radio broadcast mentioned a sore wrist.
Manny Acta said that it would take a bus crash for the Indians to put Jason Donald in center field the other day. Well it wasn't center field, but after Shin-Soo Choo was lifted with a pulled hamstring, Acta placed Donald in left field. Cunningham was then moved from left to right and Donald played the ninth in left.
Speaking of fielding, Casey Kotchman made a stellar play in the ninth to save what could have been disaster for Chris Perez. Jack Hannahan also made a great play. Remember what I said earlier about these guys saving more games than they'll lose with their glove? Yeah. I hope so.
Pestano and Perez both gave up a run off two hits, but with enough Hannahan-insurance, no sweat. Tony Sipp had a great inning, making very quick work of the side in the seventh and actually looking like the Tony Sipp we know for the first time all season. That's a good sign at least.
Jason Kipnis, hit, walk, HBP... Three times on base. Brantely take note. Not a real impactful game, but set up opportunities. in the 1st and 2nd spots in the order, Kpinis is 8-27 with 2 walks, compared to 6-32 with 3 walks everywhere else.
[A PRONK OF OLD]
Can we talk about Travis Hafner? The dude is locked in right now. He's showing signs of the old Pronk. And not that "oh he's showing signs" we've said in the past... He's actually doing the things that made him successful back a few years ago.
Granted the constant bombs are not there, but that Hafner isn't coming back because he'd likely kill himself getting to 40 home runs. This Pronk may be a little more lethal though in that in addition to a return of his batting eye, as well as his patience at the plate, he's more experienced.
"I think it's really important for hitters to have a good two-strike approach. You can sit on pitches early in the count. You can take chances. And if you do swing at two breaking balls in the dirt, it's not the end of the world."
I think we forget how good of a hitter Travis Hafner really was until we see him doing what he's doing now. As Manny Acta put it, he doesn't panic when he gets two strikes. For a few years there he was waving at pitches Pronk didn't usually swing at, looking feeble in his attempt to swing. Now he's swinging with authority or not swinging at all.
And he's also using the shift to his advantage. Bemoan the fact that he's going to hit a few more singles than you'd expect someone of his power to hit, but this guy is not a power hitter. He's a professional hitter, he knows how to swing the bat and he's going to take what he's given, or else he's walking to first.
For example, last night, his last two at-bats were hard hit and well hit. Kelvin Herrera's 97 mph fastball was smoked into the outfield. It was hard hit, a good piece of hitting, but it went right to an outfielder. In the eighth against Jose Mijares, he hit a deep fly ball that just got a little too much air under it and gave enough time for the defense to settle under.
He's swinging well.
And when this guy is doing his job, even if he isn't hitting, he's walking and getting on and that makes the lineup better, as it used to.
"Tons," Duncan said. "You can tell it puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher when you've got someone in the middle of the lineup like that raking. And then it also gives us a boost."
If anyone benefits, it's Carlos Santana hitting in front of Pronk. It will keep pitchers on their toes and more likely to pitch to him rather than around him.
As mentioned, Derek Lowe had his ring stolen. At least that is the report. Lowe's house in Florida was robbed and among the items missing were the World Series ring Lowe earned as a member of the 2004 Red Sox (and what a ring that is breaking the long-drought for Boston) and a replica trophy.
Hopefully he gets those back and the odds are they'll track down that ring considering the players have their names etched into the rings. So if anyone sees a World Series ring that says LOWE, you know who to call.
Johnny Damon continues to progress through his time in extended spring training, completing another game on Tuesday in which he went 2-4 as a designated hitter, stealing a base and hitting a double.
Congratulations to Akron's Jared Goedert on being named Minor League Player of the Week. Goedert really has no business in Akron still, but he is what he is at this point, an organizational soldier.
Curious as to how Matt LaPorta hasn't garnered that honor the way he's been swinging. LaPorta went 4-5 in a Clippers loss to Toledo last night and he hit his fifth home run in the process. He's got 10 RBI on the year and hitting .344... As Kotchman struggles, the LaPorta watch is on, but really, it will take more than a month of both for anything to happen.
Someone created a Bullpen Mafia Song.... I'm not sure how I feel about it... I'm still not sure about any of the shirts out there.. Nothing of the Yoenis Cyborges caliber, that's for sure.
We'll look here... Good old Wedge and Company doing us a favor. The Mariners beat the Tigers in their own place, taking a 7-4 contest and cranking out 15 hits in the process.
Max Scherzer got rocked for the second straight game. Jason Vargas didn't have the same success he did with the Indians last week, but he was good enough to get through six and let the Mariner offense do the work against Scherzer, who's given up seven and eight runs in his last two starts.
The good news in all this? That loss combined with the White Sox loss created a three-way tie for first place in the AL Central.
Nino has a blog that he creates dumb nicknames, even for players not on the Indians. Give it a vist at The Tribe Daily.