Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rolling with the Tribe

It's amazing, when a team is hot, even when they screw up things turn out Ok. It happened during the Indians' 12-4 win over the Reds Sunday. With runners at first and third, the Indians tried a double steal, but botched it. Travis Buck, the runner at first broke for second, but once the throw went to second, Shin-Soo Choo, the runner at third, was late breaking for the plate. Choo was so late that he got trapped in no-man's land and then tried to retreat to third base before the throw from catcher Ramon Hernandez go there.

Choo should have been out by 10 feet. Instead, Hernandez threw wildly to third. The ball rolled all the way down the left field foul line, all the way to the wall. Choo and Buck both scored, so the Indians scored two runs on a play they screwed up, but one that the Reds screwed up even more.

Stuff like that frequently happens to teams having the type of season the Indians are having. They are now 18-4 at home, the best home record through 22 games in franchis history.

The Indians have played so well for so long that you expect something to break right for them late in every close game. The next three games will be another challenge, however.

The Red Sox are playing well, and the Indians will be facing Boston's three best pitchers, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester.

It's not a stretch to say that this could be a preview of a post-season series. Certainly the three pitchers the Indians will face in the series are playoff-caliber starting pitchers. And the way the Indians have been playing stamps them as a playoff-caliber team.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ships passing in the night?

The Indians are in Chicago for two games stating tonight. The Indians haven't seen the White Sox since the first three games of the season. After losing the first two games of the season to Chicago the Indians are 26-11 since then. The White Sox, over that same span, are 16-25.

The best part about the Indians' hot start is that it has already allowed them to put considerable distance between themselves and the White Sox and Twins, the two teams that many felt were the best in the division at the start of the season.

However, six weeks into the season the Indians are not only in first place, but a whopping 10 games ahead of the White Sox and 13 1/2 games ahead of the Twins.

The Indians are also getting the kind of breaks that seem to come with teams having the kind of year they are having. For example, last weekend, they had two games with Seattle rained out, and the scheduled starting pitchers for Seattle in those two games were Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, and rookie phenom Michael Pineda.

When you're hot, you're hot.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Sunday's painful loss to the Angels proved once again that the downside to having a team that is a contender is that the losses are far more painful than are losses when the team is an also-ran.

Of course, the wins are also far more enjoyable, so it's a tradeoff. The Indians had three of each on their West Coast trip that ended Sunday, a trip that may have been a validation of the Indians being a team that can stay in contention all year.

The Indians played .500 ball in six games against the A's and Angels, the two teams with the two best pitching staffs in the American League. The Indians actually came within six outs of going 4-2 in the six games, which would have stamped it as a sensational trip.

To this point in the season the Indians are following the battle tested formula for being a contender: win big at home, and break even on the road. The Indians have won 13 games in a row at home, and are 13-2 overall at Progressive Field. They are 9-9 on the road. That kind of a home-away split, if maintained for the rest of the season should keep the Indians in contention all the way through September.

This West Coast trip was another opportunity for us to judge whether the Indians are for real. The verdict six games later: Yes, they are for real. And they will remain for real until their play suggests to us that they are not.