With regard to the west coast trip, it was less than spectacular, but it’s over.
11 down, 83 to go. And now for something completely different.
1. Terry Francona: Perhaps the best manager (not coach) in the majors, and definitely the best manager for Cleveland. His approach to (and desire for) winning and his perception of reality are in perfect sync.
2. Justin Masterson: He’s got 5 starts, a 4.5 ERA and 0 wins to go with his 0 losses. But more important, he’s got the right stuff, including the right attitude (despite not getting the contract he wants and deserves).
3. Zack McAllister: Who somehow – magically – has 3 wins and a 2.28 ERA.
4. Lonnie Chisenhall: They took away third base and he found his bat. Not only is the Chisel hitting .432, he’s slugging .595 with 16 hits, including 6 doubles.
5. David Murphy: Yeah. In 19 games he has 17 hits and 15 RBI. In right field he has 32 putouts and no errors…
6. Michael Brantley: Yeah-Yeah. In 21 games, MB has 23 hits, 18 RBI, 4 homers and 4 stolen bases. And I think he is possessed by the ghost of Nick Swisher.
7. Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi: If you are one of those guys (and I am) who thinks a player’s value extends beyond stats, then these guys are MVPs, motivating this team and keeping their heads on straight during wins and losses.
8. John Axford: The Tomahawk has 8 saves already with a .176 average. And I think he is possessed by the ghost of Rollie Fingers.
9. Potential: I am stoked that we’ve got guys like Trevor Bauer and Francisco Lindor and Nyjer Morgan and a half dozen other pitching and hitting prospects who are ready to step in if and when needed.
10. Kevin: His dispassion of the Tribe is a constant motivator to keep winning.
10 down, 84 to go. It’s time to get the bus out of the garage basement
So far – less than 20 games in – I am very pleased with the performance of my Cleveland Indians. Yeah, we are in last place (1.5 games out of first!), but we are playing really inconsistent baseball right now… so it won’t take much to get back to and stay in the lead.
In particular, I am really happy with these five guys: Chisenhall (batting .455), Morgan (before he got sent down was batting .348), Murphy (with 15 RBI), Brantley (with 4 homers and 18 RBI) and Aviles (who is great off the bench).
On the other hand, I am not so thrilled with these four guys right now: Santana (batting only .145), Swisher (with 20 strike outs and batting only .197), Cabrera (who is in the middle of a two-year strugglefest) and Gomes (batting only.250, and has 5 errors).
Still, I am totally stoked with this team. And I am absolutely confident that when we finally get humming (like starting two days ago), we are going to mow down the league with virtual ease… in fact, don’t be surprised with a record-breaking win streak.
9 down, 85 to go. Beep at the bus if you love winning.
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.
Either way, we are now at seven wins. And while some might say seven wins is not enough, others would argue it is great.
Like the Tigers, who also have seven wins.
And the Red Sox and Orioles and the Rays… they all have seven wins.
How about the Reds… they only have six wins… I’ll bet they’d like the number seven.
Ah, to be a baseball fan in April, with the entire season ahead of you. If it gets better than this, I’d like to find out on my own.
And by the way, in case you were wondering, Terry Francona has the Tribe exactly where he wants them… and that’s good enough for me.
7 down, 87 to go. Grab your walking stick, this is gonna be a hike.
Earlier this year we got a sneak preview of John Axford, the long dog from Milwaukee who claimed the spot previously occupied by the one whose name will not be spoken. After studying the competition, the Ax managed to pick 18 of 18 Oscar winners… not too shabby.
But this afternoon, #44 picked up his fourth of four save opportunities, which is infinitely more impressive in my book. And while much of the credit for the early afternoon win should go to Zach McAllister and the Bop Brothers (Nick and Jason), I think I’d like to tip my baseball cap to John Axford, who Christian referred to – by way of Ireland – as a heartburn engine.
I like that… I am pretty sure I will be using that. But not yet.
5 down, 89 to go. My head is already spinning.
Take last night (for example). After the rain out on Monday, I was totally amped to see what the Tribe would do. Would Kluber look better? Would Swisher and Kipnis mash? Would Santana continue to hone his third base skills? Would we need Axford to save the day?
But no. Instead, some guy named Nyjer Morgan goes 3 for 5 to knock in two runs, while some other guy named Dave Murphy goes 2 for 4 with a homer and a double. And while neither one of these guys is new to baseball, they are new to Cleveland… so it is pretty exciting to see what they can do.
Meanwhile, Santa looked good at third, Kluber looked like a legitimate #2 and Axford secured his third save. Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom.
And that’s the awesome thing about Cleveland Indians baseball. Every day it is likely to be someone or something else. Chisenhall today, Rayburn tomorrow… Masterson one night, Wood the next.
4 down, 90 to go. I love this game.
1. A win is a win is a win… and a win is better than a loss.
2. Every game counts, but it’s a long season… so don’t freak out over every win or loss.
3. Three wins in six games beats the snot out of winning just one or two… I’ll take it!
In case you haven’t noticed, the boys look pretty darn good. I am not thrilled with Asdrubal’s performance, but I am very impressed with the way Morgan and Chisenhall have accepted their roles. And I will admit that the first time through the rotation was not encouraging, but then again, there is not a single undefeated team left in the MLB…. and we’re only one week in.
As for tonight, it looks like the rain is going to delay – if not postpone – the game. We may have to swap our brooms for mops.
3 down, 91 to go. Get’em boys!
For a change, I am choosing to not listen to the sound of my own voice. This time, I choose to let Terence Mann speak on my behalf:
Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
Good luck Tribe on Opening Day 2014… and happy wishes to all Tribe fans!
It looks like the Indians of 2014 are going to look a lot like the Indians of 2013, but with better hitting, better defense, better base running and, yes Virginia, better pitching.
Unlike Kazmir in the first game, McAllister was not flawless, but he got the job done. And once again, Axford, unlike Johnson, was money. Kluber did not look ready, but I will take 2 out of 3 against the A’s and say thank you.
2 down, 92 to go. The tour bus is heading back to Cleveland… can’t wait for the Tribe to get home.
P.S. Oakland finished first in their division last year, right?
Masterson was exactly who we thought he was. [Sidenote to Shapiro: let’s hold off on Masterson’s contract and watch him earn a cool mill on the open market for every game he wins in 2014]
Morgan was happy to be in the game and made the most of it. I suspect we won’t be seeing a lot of Nyjer this year, but I am grateful for his timely pop last night.
And Axford was a thing of beauty, slamming the door on the charging Athletics.
Someone once said (actually I just made this up): Opening Day is the first dress rehearsal for the post-season. All things considered, we looked pretty good out there.
1 down, 93 to go. I love my job.