While the entire city of Cleveland was basking in the glow of Nick Gilbert’s instant stardom in lovely Secaucus, New Jersey, the Indians were once again doing what they do best – winning.
What a great night to be a Clevelander. The trade of Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers netted a good-soldiered version of Baron Davis and the first-overall draft pick. Simultaneously in the great Midwestern town of Kansas City, Manny Acta’s Wahoos battered another starting pitcher into submission in their 7-3 series sweeping win over the Royals.
Starting early as they did a night before, the Tribe attack went right at KC starter Shawn O’Sullivan. Michael Brantley, who seems right at home in that leadoff spot (yes, I won’t get off that topic. No matter how good Grady is, Brantley is a better choice for the leadoff spot), opened with a double. Playing some Actaball the night after dropping 19 runs, Asdrubal Cabrera bunted Brantley over to third. O’Sullivan then dotted Shin-Soo Choo in the back (it looked like it was on purpose) to set up runners at the corners with one out.
Carlos Santana, a double-play candidate who has shown great patience all season, worked a walk to load the bases. It was his fourth walk in his last seven plate appearances. Just like the night before, Travis Hafner stepped in with the bases full of Indians, and promptly cleared the bases with a double.
“Hafner came up big again,” Acta said. “It’s no secret that the team that scores first wins a majority of the time. Especially in this stadium with the pitching that we have.”
The 3-0 lead would be enough for Carlos Carrasco. The right-hander who has been the shakiest member of a solid rotation thus far, threw a lot of pitches, but was able to get the Indians into the sixth inning with a 6-1 lead. He allowed five hits and two walks, but K’d five.
“He was very aggressive,” Acta said of Carrasco. “His velocity was better and he went after hitters. It’s a very good ballpark to do that. He went after them with his fastball and once they got behind in the count, he went with his breaking stuff. A good outing.”
He had the benefit of pitching with a big lead as well.
Brantley added an RBI sac fly in the fourth, and two more came in the fifth on a solo blast from Santana and a two-out RBI single from Travis Buck. OK, time to beat a dead horse – the second Grady Sizemore is activated off the DL, Austin Kearns must go. Buck is the superior player in every facet of the game.
As much as we loved what Kearns did for the Tribe last year, the best thing he did for the organization was net them right-handed starter Zach McCallister, who is a real option for them in AAA as a starter. He is 6-0 with a 2.80 ERA in seven starts. Kearns, since the trade (thanks to our friend Paul Cousineau at The DiaTribe ) has the following numbers in 175 plate appearances:
.210 BA / .314 OBP / .283 SLG / .597 OPS with 7 extra base hits
Buck must stay. There, I’ve said it again. But I digress.
AC added yet another solo blast in the seventh to finish the Tribe’s scoring for the night. It was his seventh homer on the season; he had three in 97 games last year. Cabrera also now leads the team with 27 RBIs. If he isn’t an all star this year, he may never be one.
It won’t be noted by many, but reliever Tony Sipp did an excellent job bailing Joe Smith out. Smitty was having trouble finding the plate walking two of the three batters he faces in the seventh. Sipp, with the help of a pickoff throw by Santana, got out of Smith’s jam unscathed and followed with a 1-2-3 eighth. Chris Perez allowed a run in the ninth in a non-save situation, but got the final three outs for another Tribe win.
As I said earlier, what a great night for Cleveland. The Indians are now 26-13, 13 games over .500 and sport the best record in baseball. They lead the second place Detroit Tigers by five games, and hold the biggest gap of any division leader in the game. All they do is win and stay under the national radar.
You gotta love Actaball.
Up next is a two-game set in Chicago with the White Sox. Justin Masterson (5-1, 2.73 ERA) tries to recover from his first loss of the season last Thursday against Tampa Bay. He will be faced by the talented but often injured Jake Peavy (0-0, 6.00 ERA)