Indians 7, Royals 3: Nick Gilbert’s Good Fortune Extends to KC

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)

  • mgbode

    I hate the White Sox more than the Yankees and Red Sox. There I said it. Even Peavy, who I liked in SD, draws my ire.

    Oh, and that’s 2 straight sweeps for the Tribe (1 game set and a 2 game set, but they are still sweeps :) )

  • Harv 21

    OK, so must note exception to the Immutable Truth that a team loses the night after a blow out win. May not always occur the same night the city’s NBA team wins the lottery – stars and stuff all misaligned and whatnot.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    @ Harv

    I appreciate that you’re taking your lumps today after predicting a major drop off for the Tribe after their drubbing of KC in the previous game.

    I totally get where you’re coming from with the “yeah but things will eventually get worse” mindset. However, if there’s one thing the last year in Cleveland sports fandom has taught me, it’s to enjoy the good moments as they come…

    -Browns beating New England
    -Peyton Hillis crushing fools
    -the Tribe’s great start
    -Cavs winning the lottery

    We think Cleveland is cursed, but really, it’s been a pretty good decade for Cleveland teams…despite the lack of a title.

  • Nobody

    The decade’s still young…we might get a title one of these years…but it’s been fun so far this decade.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    Heck, we may end up with three simultaneous winning teams. (gasp!)

  • NJ

    Five every day lefties (three in the outfield) makes it hard for Buck to stay up.

    “No matter how good Grady is”? I think you’re forgetting how good he was. Not sure if he can still do that, but Sizemore in his prime was miles ahead of 2011 Brantley. And that’s no offense to Brantley. Based on the first 18 games Sizemore played, I think he deserves the chance to stay in the leadoff position.

  • Harv 21

    @ C-Bus: “just win 4 of 7 the rest of the way and we will run away with our division.” Mumbling this mantra makes me forget 2007, when Cleve sports also seemed to turn inexplicably rosy. This is a day to just let those good, good sports vibes wash over us. And let it roll til whenever. Fun.

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    @Harv21 — I agree. Just keep enjoying it! Holy crap… the sun just came out!

  • Ben

    Magic Number 118

  • Tommy

    “No matter how good Grady is, Brantley is a better choice for the leadoff spot”

    Guys, lets not question TD’s impeccable roster evaluation.

    http://waitingfornextyear.com/2010/05/white-sox-7-indians-2-masterson-is-a-reliever/

  • Believelander

    @6, the #1 reason to slide grady to 3 is all that power he is showcasing. 1995 carlos baerga was a better hitter with more power potential than Kenny Lofton, but Lofton had a high obp and was better advancing himself on the base paths.

    Grady has one very undesirable lead off characteristic, he strikes out much more then he walks. He doesn’t have michael brantley’s vision to hold up on that tantalizing breaking pitch dropping out of the zone, and pitchers know it.

    Put him in the 3-hole and let your obp guys get on, and he will get more meaty fastballs. KC proved the last two nights that walking the bases loaded is a Bad Idea, and you cant risk dumping a multi threat like sizemore on first with santana and hafner behind him. In the leadoff spot, you can fish outside the zone for a strikeout with a bit less pressure.

    At the end of the da2

  • Believelander

    @6, the #1 reason to slide grady to 3 is all that power he is showcasing. 1995 carlos baerga was a better hitter with more power potential than Kenny Lofton, but Lofton had a high obp and was better advancing himself on the base paths.

    Grady has one very undesirable lead off characteristic, he strikes out much more then he walks. He doesn’t have michael brantley’s vision to hold up on that tantalizing breaking pitch dropping out of the zone, and pitchers know it.

    Put him in the 3-hole and let your obp guys get on, and he will get more meaty fastballs. KC proved the last two nights that walking the bases loaded is a Bad Idea, and you cant risk dumping a multi threat like sizemore on first with santana and hafner behind him. In the leadoff spot, you can fish outside the zone for a strikeout with a bit less pressure.

    At the end of the da2

  • Believelander

    -day, it’s more of an academic debate than anything else, but I think it makes more sense to let Brantley get on base, then let grady double/homer him in.

  • NJ

    Grady, when healthy, had a comparable-to-better OBP than Brantely (at least based on MB’s minors+major league numbers thus far).

    Granted, all this is hard to judge since we don’t know where GS is after the injury nor do we know exactly what type of major league player Brantley can be. MB has had a great first quarter, but is it for real or not?

    More to the point, I question the declaration that Brantley is without doubt a better leadoff hitter than Sizemore.