August 26, 2014

LeBron’s mind and Kluber’s cutter: While We’re Waiting…

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Browns camp is under way, LeBron chose his jersey number and the Indians finally won a game. Happy Monday, kids. Let’s dig in.

LeBron James has always had a way to recall certain instances of his on-court life. Having covered him during his final year in Cleveland back in 2010, I was always intrigued by the way he would seemingly flash back to certain second-long frames in his mind—certain plays, specific floor placement, time, date, location, you name it. If you haven’t read Brian Windhorst’s extremely well-reported piece on this very characteristic of the four-time MVP, do so—now. (I had considered using this in this week’s #ActualSportswriting, but it’s too good, and too pertinent to just quote.) While cynics may attempt to poke holes in the video game anecdote, the details that James can recall years after they occur are astounding. James already came pre-packaged with an insane physique, possessing an adult’s body as a teenager. The fact that his basketball IQ is through the roof as well—well, it’s almost unfair. The story about the game-winners in Golden State? Incredible.


If you haven’t been following along, Grantland has been rolling out some high-quality work on MLB’s best pitchers. It was only a matter of time before Corey Kluber received the “PitchCraft” treatment, getting his due just hours after dominating the Kansas City Royals late last week. I mean, we know Kluber has been downright filthy this season, but just how filthy? His most thrown pitch, his sinker, isn’t even his best pitch. Kluber’s cutter is currently the fourth-best in all of baseball, providing almost a foot difference in movement when compared to his fastball. His slider? Well, that’s held opponents to a .079 batting average this season thanks to nearly 11 inches of horizontal break—an MLB best. Only the Padres’ Tyson Ross has more strikeouts with his slider (84 to Kluber’s 72), and he’s thrown the pitch twice as often.

The Grantland piece also reiterated what we said earlier, Kluber has been this effective despite having a higher BABiP than many of the other pitchers ranked in the top 10 in WAR. Kluber, following his outing against KC, was third in wins above replacement, having been worth 4.3 additional Ws.


Hey, did you guys hear about that one really good take? Yeah, me neither. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:

An Idiot in Exile” by Pat Jordan (Sports on Earth): “Johnny Damon was a major league baseball player for 18 years. He won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and another one with the Yankees in 2009, which is why he once said, “Being a baseball player is so great.” He said the game “was fun,” and winning championships was even more “fun.” He learned how to have “fun” with the A’s and then taught his teammates with the Red Sox and Yankees how to have “fun.” His concept of “fun” was mostly that of a young boy. … He dropped water balloons from the upper floor of hotels on passing pedestrians below. He and his teammates held down other teammates and poured ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard all over their clean uniforms, which he thought was hilarious. In the clubhouse he performed pull-ups naked, his penis dangling in his teammates’ faces. He liked to “party” after games with his teammates, drink booze, smoke pot. He collected women as if they too were toys. Some might say that his sense of “adult fun” was a lot like his sense of childlike fun.”

The Passion of Roger Angell” by Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated): “Writing well is hard. It requires constant thinking. The gears, flywheels and levers of the mind click and clatter nonstop. Writing is flying an airplane without instruments, almost always through the dark storms of doubt. It is new every time. There’s an added difficulty with writing about baseball: The writer ages but the players do not. They are perpetually young, replaced almost imperceptibly by younger versions of themselves. Every season is like a summer-stock version of Bye Bye Birdie. Then one day a ballplayer with $100 million banked calls you “sir,” and you realize the chasm has grown Olduvai Gorge–wide.

Playground Basketball is Dying” by Myron Medcalf and Dana O’Neil (ESPN): “If there is a holy ground of playground hoops, it is the space here near 155th Street, just off the Harlem River Drive. The Harlem Garden, old-timers used to call it, and it is hardly hyperbole. If Madison Square Garden is billed as the world’s most famous basketball arena, this is its outdoor cousin. This is where Julius Erving shucked the nickname given to him by a Rucker announcer — The Claw — and argued to be called The Doctor. This is where Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, fresh off being selected as the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, respectively, in the 1996 draft, partnered for a dream backcourt; this is where Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston went from local legend to NBA player; and this is where Kareem, Dominique, Wilt, LeBron, KD, Kobe and so many other first-name-only star players have dropped in for at least one game in their respective careers.”

Mean Girl” by Kelefa Sanneh (New Yorker): “In M.M.A., more than in most sports, athletes must be promoters, too. Rousey is smart enough to know that one of her promotional assets is the way she looks—she has appeared on the cover of not only ESPN the Magazine but alsoMaxim, which called her “Badass & Blonde,” and photographed her in a garment that seemed highly unsuitable for combat. Of course, this asset can be a liability, too, especially for a female fighter seeking the same respect given her male counterparts.”


Calling my shot now: That Tom Verducci profile of Roger Angell will be discussed in nearly every year-end “Best of” piece when it comes to sportswriting. It’s the pen-and-paper, modern day equivalent of Mozart covering Beethoven. Verducci is easily one of the best sports writers working today; Angell is a legend, currently 93 years of age and still plugging along. He’s not in the BBWAA—which is simply fantastic given how antiquated and unnecessary the BBWAA is—and is the first to ever win the Hall of Fame’s award for baseball writing to have not been a member. Independent writers (or “bloggers”) could learn a lot from Angell who almost always wrote as a fan. Good news is, The New Yorker unlocked their entire archives for the rest of the summer, so you can catch up on any of his pieces that you may have missed. I recommend starting here. Then go here.


You all obviously listen to the great work that Craig does with the WFNY podcasts. But as radio continues to loose steam, pandering and forcing senseless debate, I continue to listen to more and more podcasts by national types. Playing off of the success of Bill Simmons’ BS Report, ESPN has rolled out podcasts for Grantland’s Zach Lowe and’s Jason Whitlock. A few that I recommend: Lowe and Lee Jenkins, talking Cavs; Whitlock and Scott Raab, talking Cavs and Cleveland; and Whitlock and ESPN’s rock star reporter Ramona Shelburne, who spoke candidly about reporting and women in sports.


And just because:

Indians Roster Notes: Lopez Released, Tomlin to Have Arm Evaluated

For the fourth time this month, the Indians announced today they have released a veteran player DFA’d 10 days earlier. This time, it was utility infielder Jose Lopez, following in the footsteps of, chronologically, Johnny Damon, Jeremy Accardo and Derek Lowe.

Indians beat writers, who had a nice Twitter fling with Lopez throughout the season, were saddened by the announcement:

In other notable Indians roster notes, recently-converted reliever Josh Tomlin will have his right arm examined in Cleveland this week. He was originally rumored to see well-known specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum while the team is in Southern California this week, but supposedly the doctor is unavailable.

According to various Twitter reports, Tomlin has fought elbow soreness dating back to last season, possibly resulting in his poor performance to date this year: 5-8 with a 5.82 ERA in 20 games (16 starts).

It’s very possible that Tomlin will be moved to the DL this week to make room for Roberto Hernandez, who is scheduled to start Wednesday. It is also possible that lefty Chris Seddon or righty Corey Kluber also could go back to Columbus, while outfielders Matt LaPorta or Russ Canzler could be activated from the Clippers roster (h/t @MLBastian).

[Related: Contention Windows and Depth Charts: Analyzing the Cleveland Indians’ Future]

Indians Weekend Wrapup: Unimpressive Start To The Second Half

The long All-Star break brought about some hard truths for our Wahoos. While they were just two and half games out of first, their margin of error was (and is) a lot slimmer than their rivals, the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The bats need to become more consistent one through nine. The starting rotation needs to get stronger. The bullpen needs to get some depth beyond the back end three.

It all started Friday night in Toronto. The Blue Jays are a tough team, but the Tribe’s rotation was set the way they wanted it. Toronto is missing four of their five top starters and the Tribe would have their crack at a couple of fill ins in lefty Aaron Laffey and righty Carlos Villenueva.

Instead of taking advantage, the Tribe bats fell asleep in two out of the three games, particularly with runners on base. To make matter worse, in the one game the offense actually showed up, the pitching failed them. The Tribe would end up losing two of three and lost ground to both the Tigers and the first place White Sox, who each won Sunday and gained a game. The Tribe fell into third place. Its a three-team race in the AL Central, but with the Tigers so hot and the Sox not slowing down, the Indians cannot afford a slump.

As we do every Monday, lets take a look back at the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Indians All-Star Break Review: DH and Outfielders

As we do each summer at WFNY when the Cleveland Indians hit the All-Star break, we take a look back at the four facets of the team on the field. There’s been been a lot to talk about with this club. Their 44-41 record is good enough for second in the American League Central, but the team has shown some serious flaws. GM Chris Antonetti continues to tell us that the Indians have not played their best baseball yet. I hope he is right. Additions will need to be made and in-house improvements will be a must if the Tribe plans on playing October baseball.

We started by looking at the starting rotation. Next was the bullpen. Yesterday we examined the infielders, and today, the last of our four part series, will delve into the DH and the outfield.

The best laid Indians outfield plans were shelved before Spring Training even started. The decision to bring back Grady Sizemore for another year was good in theory. But the Indians should have known better. While preparing for the season, Sizemore hurt his back so severely that he needed surgery. The team doctors didn’t want to put a timetable on his return, but the earliest we were told we’d see him was mid-June. At this point, the free agent market was completely barren.

The injury began a chain of events which hamstrung the team’s offensive plans. Instead of Sizemore in center, flanked by Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo, Brantley would move back to center (where he belongs by the way), and left field would become a contest between Shelley Duncan and a bunch of former Major League castoffs on Minor League deals. Nobody stepped forward to claim the job other than Duncan, who showed some power in Goodyear, but hit under .200. He was given the job by default. [Read more...]

Angels 3 Indians 0: Weaver Blanks Tribe

This just in – Angels starter Jered Weaver is good at baseball. This also just in – the Indians offense struggles from time to time.

Sometimes you sit back and watch a game and have to just chalk it up to being dominated by a great pitcher. That was certainly the case last night as Weaver completely befuddled the Tribe for six innings. But in the seventh, with the Indians trailing 2-0 , they finally had their shot.

Jason Kipnis led off with a walk and advanced to second on Michael Brantley’s single (by the way, I know Travis Hafner will be back soon, but its a sad state of affairs when Brantley and his one home run once again hits cleanup. When he isn’t, Jose Lopez is. Wow.) Carlos Santana, back in the lineup after his mini-absence, walked to load the bases with nobody out.

This was their big chance. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw the next three names due up – Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman, and Shelley Duncan. I immediately thought (and tweeted) that I had a bad feeling.  [Read more...]

Indians 7 Orioles 2: The Zach Attack and the Home Run Ball Get Tribe Back On Track

It was a perfect night to be a Cleveland sports fan. I for one sat in front of my TV, popped on the Ipad, had my Iphone next to me on one side and my five-year old son on the other. I was ready for action. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt always says “the great thing about sports is they always deliver.” Last night was no exception.

While I obviously had my eyes on the NBA Draft, the one night of the year that I actually shed the “NBA Free” tag (because of my passion for the college game), the Tribe needed some love and attention as well. Coming into Baltimore losers of five straight for the first time all year, Manny Acta called for a 4:30 team meeting to clear the decks so to speak.

“It was just basically to talk to the guys,” Acta said, “and make sure they know it’s a very long season, a roller coaster where you go up and down — how just a week ago when we left Cleveland we were sitting pretty in first place and then a week later you go through a struggle and you’re where you’re at. It’s about staying positive, sticking together and just making sure you do what you’re supposed to do and not panic and try to do too much.” [Read more...]

Tribe Sweeps Reds In A Masterpiece

For the first two months of the season, the Cleveland Indians were a first place club despite several underachieving parts. Nowhere was that more evident than the front end of the starting rotation. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, slated to be the 1-2 punch that would allow the Indians to compete, were in no way meeting expectations. The Tribe relied on hot starts from Derek Lowe and Jeanmar Gomez to carry them, but as both of them have regressed back to the mean, it was time for Masterson and Jimenez to step up. In his last three starts, Justin Masterson has been nearly unhittable. He continued that last night as Justin stifled the Reds and led the Tribe to a 8-1 victory to complete the sweep of Cincinnati.

Masterson was able to keep the Reds lineup, an absolute dynamo in Cincinnati and the first game of this series, whisper quiet. His sinker and slider were both on, with Acta pointing to the sinker as his best on this evening, “He pounded the strike zone with that heavy sinker1 , and then he was able to throw the ball by guys with the four-seam [fastball] at 95 miles per hour and mix in a few good sliders. He was under control the whole time.” Masterson scoffed when asked what’s working for him right now. He said he was able to throw strikes early and locate. He makes it sound so simple, and right now for Justin, it is. Masterson went the distance in this one, allowing just one unearned run due to an Asdrubal Cabrera error, which ended his 18 inning scoreless streak. However, Masterson allowed just three hits and one hit batter while striking out nine and walking none, needing just 110 pitches in the effort. With just six walks in his last five appearances and six of his last seven starts being quality, Masterson has been in total control. On a night where the bullpen needed it, they took the night off. [Read more...]



  1. That sinker helped induce 13 groundball outs []

While We’re Waiting… Damon Being Damon, Harden’s Struggles, and Sandusky, Ohio vs Sandusky, Jerry

“On a mid-May segment of the MLB Network chat showIntentional Talk, hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar attempted to stump outfielder Johnny Damon on past teammates. The duo asked the current Cleveland Indian and 18-year vet where, if at all, he had crossed paths with five other players. He batted 1.000, remembering not only the big-league clubs but also where they’d played together in the minors. “I pay attention to my teammates,” he said, laughing that big Johnny Damon laugh. “The tough thing would have been to ask me about my teammates I’m with now. This is the first time I’m actually with them.” Throughout the interview, he frequently glanced offscreen to smile and wave at Chicago White Sox players walking to batting practice. He knew every one of them as well. During the exchange, Damon and Millar only addressed each other as “pimp.” It was broish and stupid, but the subtext was clear: nothing had changed from when the pair were in the clubhouse together. For Damon, once someone’s a teammate, he’s always a teammate.” [Noah Davis/The Classical]

[Read more...]

Box Score: Indians 8, Reds 1

Justin Masterson couldn’t possibly be more dialed in right now. The Tribe right-hander has assumed his rightful role as the ace of the staff, throwing his third straight gem as he led the Indians to a 8-1 victory to complete the sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field and split the six games of the Ohio Cup. Masterson went the distance, scattering three hits and one unearned run in the eighth inning while striking out nine. The Indians put a five spot on the board in the fourth with home runs by Johnny Damon and Asdrubal Cabrera. Lonnie Chisenhall added a three-run double for good measure in the bottom of the seventh to put the game out of reach. The Tribe is now 36-32 and currently sits in first place, one game ahead of the Chicago White Sox, pending the outcome of their game tonight. The Tribe is off tomorrow before opening a three-game series in Houston on Friday night. Ubaldo Jimenez will face Lucas Harrell.

Scoring Summary
Bot 4th: Cleveland
- J. Damon homered to deep right, C. Kotchman scored
- A. Cabrera homered to deep right center, L. Chisenhall and S. Choo scored
Bot 7th: Cleveland
- L. Chisenhall doubled to shallow right, C. Santana, C. Kotchman and J. Damon scored
Top 8th: Cincinnati
- W. Harris grounded out to second, J. Bruce scored, T. Frazier to third
Z. Cozart ss 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .262
C. Heisey cf 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 .265
J. Votto 1b 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .367
B. Phillips 2b 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .288
J. Bruce rf 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .251
S. Rolen 3b 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 .175
T. Frazier lf 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .265
W. Harris dh 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 .114
R. Hanigan c 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 .288
 Totals 29 1 3 1 0 0 9 0 4
2B - T Frazier (11, J Masterson).
RBI - W Harris (2).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - R Hanigan 1.
GIDP - J Votto.
Team LOB - 2.
 Base Running
CS - C Heisey (3, 2nd base by J Masterson/L Marson).
E - J Votto (3, throw).
DP - 1 (B Phillips-Z Cozart-J Votto).
S. Choo rf 4 1 2 0 0 1 2 0 2 .276
A. Cabrera ss 4 1 1 3 1 1 0 0 2 .300
M. Brantley cf 5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .282
C. Santana dh 5 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 4 .232
J. Lopez 2b 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 .238
C. Kotchman 1b 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .228
J. Damon lf 2 2 2 2 1 2 0 0 0 .203
    A. Cunningham lf 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .194
L. Chisenhall 3b 3 1 2 3 0 1 0 0 2 .271
L. Marson c 3 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 .242
 Totals 35 8 11 8 2 6 6 0 17
2B - S Choo 2 (22, B Arroyo 2); J Lopez (8, A Simon); L Chisenhall (2, A Simon).
HR - A Cabrera (8, 4th inning off B Arroyo 2 on, 2 Out), J Damon (3, 4th inning off B Arroyo 1 on, 1 Out).
RBI - A Cabrera 3 (31), J Damon 2 (13), L Chisenhall 3 (9).
2-out RBI - A Cabrera 3, L Chisenhall 3.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - S Choo 1, C Santana 1, L Chisenhall 1, L Marson 1.
GIDP - C Santana.
Team LOB - 9.
E - A Cabrera (7, field).
DP - 1 (J Lopez-A Cabrera-C Kotchman).
B. Arroyo (L, 3-5) 4.0 8 5 5 2 2 2 1.31 4.19
A. Simon 2.2 3 3 0 2 2 0 1.39 1.98
J.J. Hoover 0.1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1.06 3.00
L. Ondrusek 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1.31 3.04
J. Masterson (W, 4-6) 9.0 3 1 0 0 9 0 1.30 3.98
HBP - C Heisey (by J Masterson).
Pitches-strikes - B Arroyo 90-57; A Simon 42-26; J Hoover 10-4; L Ondrusek 16-10; J Masterson 110-76.
Ground balls-fly balls - B Arroyo 6-6; A Simon 4-4; J Hoover 0-0; L Ondrusek 1-0; J Masterson 15-3.
Batters faced - B Arroyo 21; A Simon 14; J Hoover 2; L Ondrusek 4; J Masterson 30.
Game Details
Umpires: HP–Ron Kulpa. 1B–D.J. Reyburn. 2B–Jim Wolf. 3B–Derryl Cousins.
Weather: 107 degrees, clear.
Wind: 10 mph, out to center.

Indians 10, Reds 9: Its Bizarro World as Tribe Outslugs The ‘Nati

I said yesterday that the Indians are going to have to win this division with their pitching and defense. Naturally a night later they come out and tear the cover off the ball. I believe yesterday I also wrote the following sentence “the bottom of the order continues to be a black hole.” The 7-8-9 of the Tribe order then proceeded to drive in seven RBIs while the guys who have been carrying the offense, Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera, didn’t get a hit. This was just another in a long line of reasons of you never know what you are going to get on any given night in baseball.

This one was supposed to be the big rematch between the Indians Derek Lowe and the Reds Mat Latos, less than a week after the Lowe/Baker flap in which Latos got himself involved. Instead, it became a battle of the bats. All-World first baseman Joey Votto got Lowe with a two-out solo shot in the first to put the Reds on top. Shin-Soo Choo led off for the Tribe and answered with a deep solo blast of his own. It was on from there.

The Reds pounded Lowe with a double and three singles to take a 3-1 lead in the second. However, the Tribe countered with some offense of their own. Michael Brantley opened the second with a ground-rule double. Carlos Santana, moved to the six hole to help his slumping bat, singled sharply up the middle moving Brantley to third. He would score on Johnny Damon’s groundout. With two out, Lonnie Chisenhall blasted a two-run shot into the Reds bullpen to put the Tribe on top 4-3. [Read more...]

Reds 5 Indians 3: Where Exactly is Ramon Vazquez These Days?

Brandon Phillips kills the Indians. Its a bit that comes up every single year and sticks in the craw of Tribe fans to an endless degree. It was April 7th of 2006, more than six years ago, but it is a day that will live in Indians infamy. It was the day they gave up on a talented and uber confident kid second baseman because he was out of options and the manager didn’t like his attitude. Swagger is a better word for it.

Then GM Mark Shapiro and his manager Eric Wedge were in the midst of their “partnership,” which we all know now was horrible mistake on Shapiro’s part. The GM always picks the players, and the manager’s job is to play the hand he is dealt and make it successful. Instead back in 2006, Wedge’s affinity for utility man Ramon Vazquez and his dislike of Brandon Phillips rough exterior won out. Shapiro made the final call and dealt Phillips to the Reds for reliever Jeff Stevens. They gave up on him at age 25.

Vazquez played 34 games for the Indians that season as a backup and 310 games total over the next three years. He is now out of baseball. Phillips has gone on to become a two-time all-star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, and one of the best second baseman in the game. On top of that, the Indians watch him torture them year in and year out in interleague play.

Last night was no different. [Read more...]

Box Score: Indians 6, Cardinals 2

You can’t grab a much more all-around solid win than the Cleveland Indians did tonight. Josh Tomlin dominated the Cardinals lineup for seven strong innings, and the Tribe bats nickel and dimed Jake Westbrook via small ball on their way to a 6-2 victory at Busch Stadium. Tomlin needed just 76 pitches and allowed only two seventh inning runs, adding a base hit of his own. The Tribe scored in three different innings against Westbrook in six innings, two of which came through RBI groundouts. Johnny Damon gave the Indians a larger cushion in the seventh when he hit a two-run homer. Cleveland sends Justin Masterson to the mound on Saturday against Kyle Lohse for St. Louis.

Scoring Summary
Top 1st: Cleveland
- C. Santana doubled to deep left, A. Cabrera scored, J. Kipnis to third
- M. Brantley grounded out to second, J. Kipnis scored, C. Santana to third
Top 4th: Cleveland
- C. Kotchman grounded out to second, C. Santana scored, J. Damon to second
Top 5th: Cleveland
- J. Kipnis singled to shallow right, S. Choo scored, A. Cabrera to second
Top 7th: Cleveland
- J. Damon homered to deep right, M. Brantley scored
Bot 7th: St. Louis
- M. Adams singled to shallow center, Y. Molina and D. Descalso scored
S. Choo rf 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .274
A. Cabrera ss 5 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 .298
J. Kipnis 2b 5 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .281
C. Santana c 4 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 .233
M. Brantley cf 5 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 2 .284
J. Damon lf 4 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 4 .188
    A. Cunningham lf 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
C. Kotchman 1b 4 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 .222
L. Chisenhall 3b 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .233
J. Tomlin p 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 .333
    S. Duncan ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
    J. Smith p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    N. Hagadone p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
 Totals 40 6 11 6 1 1 8 0 16
2B - C Santana (8, J Westbrook).
HR - J Damon (2, 7th inning off M Cleto 1 on, 2 Out).
RBI - J Kipnis (36), C Santana (26), M Brantley (29), J Damon 2 (9), C Kotchman (20).
2-out RBI - J Damon 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - A Cabrera 1, J Damon 2, J Tomlin 1.
GIDP - A Cabrera.
Team LOB - 8.
DP - 1 (A Cabrera-J Kipnis-C Kotchman).
 St. Louis
R. Furcal ss 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .312
C. Beltran rf 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .275
M. Holliday lf 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .276
A. Craig 1b 3 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 .380
D. Freese 3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 .265
Y. Molina c 4 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .337
D. Descalso 2b 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .226
S. Robinson cf 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .275
J. Westbrook p 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .174
    M. Cleto p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    M. Adams ph 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 .286
    F. Salas p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    S. Freeman p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    T. Greene ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .208
 Totals 36 2 10 2 0 1 5 0 12
2B - Y Molina (14, J Tomlin).
RBI - M Adams 2 (10).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - R Furcal 1, D Freese 1, D Descalso 1, S Robinson 1.
GIDP - M Holliday.
Team LOB - 8.
E - R Furcal (7, field); A Craig (2, field); D Descalso (3, field).
DP - 1 (D Descalso-R Furcal-A Craig).
J. Tomlin (W, 3-3) 7.0 8 2 2 1 1 0 1.31 4.96
J. Smith 1.0 2 0 0 0 3 0 1.28 3.24
N. Hagadone 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.97 2.75
 St. Louis
J. Westbrook (L, 4-6) 6.0 8 4 3 1 7 0 1.44 4.25
M. Cleto 1.0 3 2 2 0 0 1 2.00 5.40
F. Salas 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.87 5.60
S. Freeman 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.15 4.15
WP - J Tomlin.
Pitches-strikes - J Tomlin 76-52; J Smith 21-14; N Hagadone 16-13; J Westbrook 97-67; M Cleto 21-13; F Salas 17-12; S Freeman 8-5.
Ground balls-fly balls - J Tomlin 11-9; J Smith 2-0; N Hagadone 1-1; J Westbrook 15-1; M Cleto 2-2; F Salas 2-1; S Freeman 1-0.
Batters faced - J Tomlin 29; J Smith 5; N Hagadone 3; J Westbrook 29; M Cleto 6; F Salas 3; S Freeman 3.
Game Details
Umpires: HP–Mike Winters. 1B–Mark Wegner. 2B–Wally Bell. 3B–Brian Knight.
Weather: 87 degrees, clear.
Wind: 5 mph, no wind direction.

Video: Johnny Damon Robs Prince Fielder of Home Run

In his return from paternity leave, Cleveland Indians outfielder Johnny Damon climbed the latter in Comerca Park to rob the highly-paid Prince Fielder of a home run early in Wednesday night’s win.

Providing an interesting juxtaposition, Tribe first baseman Casey Kotchman would later put a ball off of the Belle Tire sign above the bullpen in right field, helping the team take down the Tigers for the fifth-straight time.

Indians 9 Tigers 6: Homers, The Mafia, And Bad Tiger Defense

Every time I think I have a read on this team, they go out and surprise me.

I wrote on Sunday that I felt the Indians were about to head into a big time trouble area. But the one thing I’ve learned about a Manny Acta managed team, they seem to respond well to adversity. They are also getting healthier. The same cannot be said for the Detroit Tigers.

Last night the Indians welcomed Johnny Damon back from paternity leave and it would pay big dividends. Carlos Santana was behind the plate for the first time since his DL stint. They faced the power throwing right-hander Max Scherzer, a strike-out machine. It didn’t take long before Wahoos greeted him rudely.

Shin-Soo Choo led the game off with a single. After two fly ball outs, Carlos Santana hit another lazy fly ball to short right field. Brennan Boesch, who we have seen butcher several balls this season against the Indians, dropped the ball as he ran in to make the catch. This kept the inning alive for the hottest Indian of the all, Michael Brantley. The man they call Dr. Smooth took Scherzer’s first pitch deep into the right-field bullpen for a three-run homer. [Read more...]

Indians Weekend Wrapup: A Conclusion To An Unimpressive Week

Is anyone else sensing trouble here in Wahooland? This was supposed to be the week where the Tribe got fat on the AL Central bottom feeders. The Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins each came to town for a three-game series. It seemed to be the perfect tonic for the banged up Indians. Instead, they lost four of six and fell two and a half games behind the first place Chicago White Sox. Maybe the best tonic is for this team to leave town. But one this is for certain, the Indians seem to be in a heap of trouble.

The starting pitching was a little better over the weekend, but not good enough. The lineup is still without big guns Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner. The clutch hitting has disappeared. I know, I sound gloomy, but the fact remains that the Indians have lost seven of nine since riding high after the sweep of the Detroit Tigers less than two weeks ago.

So what went wrong this weekend? What can be done to improve the offense (I don’t know)? Lets take our usual Monday morning look back on the weekend that was. [Read more...]

LaPorta Recalled, Damon Placed on Paternity List

Many people have been calling for this for days and weeks, and it’s finally here. Although it’s likely not how people expected it. Matt LaPorta will make the move from AAA Columbus to Cleveland today, replacing Johnny Damon on the active roster. Here is the news from Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Left fielder Johnny Damon will to leave the Indians and go on the paternity list after Saturday night’s game. His wife recently had twins.

With Damon leaving the club, Matt LaPorta will be recalled from Class AAA Columbus to replace him. FOX TV, which broadcast Saturday night’s game, first reported the news. …

A player cannot stay on paternity leave for more than three games.

So it appears that LaPorta will get at least a three-day tryout with the big league club. Of course, he was hitting .307 with 14 homers and 42 RBI in 46 games for the Clippers, but struggled during most of the month of May. Who knows how this factors into the long-term situation, but it should be interesting to see how the offense performs over the next few days.

[Related: WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 5/30]

Royals 6 Indians 3: Another Average Start Does Them In

Remember a week ago at this time we were all so high on our Cleveland Indians? They were completing a three-game sweep of their rival Detroit Tigers, the pitching was great. The hitting was just good enough. Outside of Jack Hannahan, the Indians were healthy. All seemed well in Wahooland.

Fast forward seven days and all of a sudden the Indians look like they could be in some trouble.

Carlos Santana is on the seven-day DL with a concussion. Travis Hafner is going to miss the next four to six weeks after needing a knee scope. Hannahan came back for one game and then was placed on the 15-day DL with a calf strain. Asdrubal Cabrera just returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing three games. If we know anything about this year’s Tribe, it is that they do not have the depth to sustain a glut of injuries. Without the likes of the aforementioned starters, Jose Lopez became the cleanup hitter, Casey Kotchman was moved up in the order, guys named Juan Diaz and Luke Carlin have been seen regularly. Even Aaron Cunningham got a start.

Yesterday’s 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals capped a really rough six-game stretch for the Tribe. The hope was that they could salvage the afternoon tilt to take the series and temporarily right the ship.  Yes, they had to face another lefty, veteran Bruce Chen, but they would have plenty of chances to get to him. [Read more...]

The Left Field Fiasco

Tribe off-days seem few and far between. With a 21-game in 20-day stretch now over and the 40-game mark now surpassed, we can take a look at some hard truths about this this team. Last year the magic number was 45 games, where the Indians were 30-15 and the darlings of the majors. Things fell completely their way during that stretch. The pitching was spectacular, both rotation and bullpen. It was a different hero every single night. Heck, Orlando freaking Cabrera (Obie!) was being hailed as a guy who was a great clubhouse influence (insane I know) who helped Asdrubal Cabrera find his power stroke. Everything clicked.

This season we have another first place team at essentially the same point in the season. Once again, the pitching has been very good, but not quite as good as a year before.  During that hot start, the 2011 club looked a lot better offensively than what we have seen from this current group, yet both teams are in first place. The 2012 offensive limitations have been known since the start of Spring Training.

[Read more...]

Manny Ramirez Prepping for Return in AAA

During the MLB off-season as the Indians were trying to find a right-handed bat, I wondered what could be bad about trying to bring Manny Ramirez back. As everyone told me I was crazy and that it was a bad idea and that he had nothing left in the tank, the Indians brought back Grady Sizemore and eventually signed a deal with Johnny Damon. Well, as those storylines continue to play out, Manny Ramirez, who has seemingly turned over a new leaf, is preparing to in AAA to join the Oakland A’s on a $500,000 deal.

“I went through all that situation and I looked myself in the eye and I said to myself I needed a change,” Ramirez said. “My wife is Christian, you know, and I decided to go that path. That’s why I’m here. Because when you fall, the men, all the men do is remind of your past but when you come to God, God says you’re like a new child.”

As Sizemore continues to rehab and Johnny Damon continues to pop balls up and throw underhand from left field, it might make some wonder, “What it?”

UPDATE: Ramirez suffers slight set-back-

“Ramirez was held out of Sunday’s game with Triple-A Sacramento because of a left wrist injury of unknown severity. He is with the River Cats for a 10-game assignment as his 50-game major league suspension nears completion. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in his Sacramento debut on Saturday at Albuquerque.”

Tribe Weekend Wrapup: The Pure Rage Edition

Wow. What an interesting 48 hours it has been in Wahooland. Here the Indians sit atop the AL Central division, two and a half games ahead of the Chicago White Sox and three in front of the Detroit Tigers. They have won four of six and are in the midst of a big homestand. The starting pitching has been great. The bullpen for the most part has been solid. While the offense continues to be up and down, there have been some encouraging signs from the likes of Shin-Soo Choo and Casey Kotchman. Over 82,000 fans filled Progressive Field on a beautiful weekend by the shores of Lake Erie. Yet all of a sudden, there is this prevailing negative vibe over the ballclub.

That is because Indians closer Chris Perez opened his mouth and let the truth fly. The comments and his subsequent refusal to back off of what he said after Saturday’s 2-0 win, have dug an even deeper hole with a fan base that, right or wrong, already didn’t seem crazy about him. But hey, there were games to be played against the Miami Marlins, who came to Progressive Field hovering just over the .500 mark, but playing much better of late. Since the Perez story has dominated the Tribe landscape, the majority of this post will dedicated to it. So let us jump right in, as we do each Monday morning in this space. [Read more...]