Monday, April 19, 2010

Eye on pitching

The Indians began their first homestand of the season with a record of 2-4. They ended it with a record of 6-6. It was a homestand that featured terrific starting pitching and generally horrific hitting by everyone not named Choo. In other words, the Indians thus far have been the exact opposite of what was expected.

What was expected was a team that would score runs but one that would have trouble preventing their opponents from scoring runs. What has been reality, so far, is a team that has been great at preventing runs, and not so good at scoring them. So much for the so-called experts, myself included, who badly mis-read this team coming out of spring training.

So far, anyway. The Indians' excellent pitching thus far must be tempered by the fact that half of the 12 games they have played this season have been against a White Sox team that looks like it is going to be at or near the bottom of the American League in hitting this season. Right now Paul Konerko is the only hitter in the Sox lineup that scares anyone.

Let's see how the Indians' pitchers perform when they face better hitting teams. That will begin immediately on the road trip that starts Tuesday night in Minnesota. The Twins are picked by many to win the Central Division, and one reason they are the popular pick is their killer middle of the order foursome of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Kubel. Let's see how the Indians are able to handle that group in the next three days.

The Indians' offense, meanwhile, continues to basically be Shin-Soo Choo and not much else. Four of the nine hitters in the Indians' starting lineup Sunday were hitting under .200. Sure, it's early. The weather has been cold. But it's early and cold for many of the other teams in the American League, and most of them are hitting better than the Indians.

The Indians embark on their three-city trip to Minnesota, Oakland, and Anaheim with a record of 6-6. If they can return to Cleveland with a .500 record, that would be a good road trip. And it would perhaps be an indication that perhaps the Indians' pitching staff has a chance to be better this year than anyone expected.


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