July 28, 2014

Clippers Bats Whip Bulls 8-3 to Take a 2-0 Series Lead

IL Playoffs Round 1 – Game 2
Clippers 8, Bulls 3 (box)
COL leads series 2-0

Unlike Game 1, this time out both offenses established themselves early. By the end of the first inning, a combination of five runs–two more than had scored in the entire game–were in and on the scoreboard. But, it was the Clippers’ bats who would carry the day. Columbus starter–and former Durham Bull–Mitch Talbot got the chance to beat his former team, and was good enough after the first inning to give him team time to stretch their legs. And stretch they did.

Chad Huffman again led the offensive assault, with three hits in five trips, including a double and his second home run in as many games of the series. Huffman drove in two and also scored twice as well as the Clippers rocked former Tribe draft pick Chris Archer to the tune of five runs in 5.2 innings. Tim Fedroff, Travis Buck, Beau Mills, Juan Diaz, and Argenis Reyes all had two hits each as well, as the Clippers plated eight runs on 14 hits. They were especially potent with two outs, scoring all of their runs with two outs. [Read more...]

Clippers Shut Down Bulls 3-0 Behind Solid Pitching from McAllister, Bullpen

IL Playoffs Round 1 – Game 1
Clippers 3, Bulls 0 (box)
COL leads series 1-0

Often in a baseball playoff series, Game 1 is all about “strength versus strength” – the teams usually each send their best pitchers to the mound, and the offenses are feeling each other out. Bulls’ starter Matt Moore hadn’t lost a start since being promoted from AA in July, so it looked like the Clippers–even with their best starter in Zach McAllister toeing the rubber–would have their work cut out for them.

Well, Moore was good; the difference is that McAllister was great, at least for six innings. And, the Clippers’ bullpen was exceptional. Columbus got enough offense from the middle of the order, and pushed past the Bulls for a 1-0 series lead. OF Chad Huffman led the bats with a home run, a double, and two of the three RBI on the night. Beau Mills drove in the third run, and that was more than enough for the Columbus pitchers. [Read more...]

Twins 2 Indians 1: A Crushing Defeat

I know I am deflated. I can’t imagine how the Indians felt after this killer loss in Minneapolis last night.

Justin Masterson was at his best, while the Tribe lineup was at its worst. Nevertheless, the Wahoos were nursing a 1-0 lead heading into the ninth inning. Chris Perez entered with 16 consecutive saves in tow. A normal Pure Rage outing and the boys would be going for a four-game sweep this afternoon in Minneapolis.

Instead, we were all left scratching our heads as to what had just happened. [Read more...]

Jose Bautista Makes Tribe Fans Sad

Joey Bats came to Progressive Field last night determined to send a lively crowd of 27,000 home unhappy.  He hit his 2nd and 3rd home runs of the series to hand the Indians their second loss in a row.  Bautista peppered the left field bleachers in the 3rd and with a game winning bomb in the 10th off Chris Perez.  He now has 31 homers – 6 more than anyone else in the majors.

It was a tough extra innings loss to take after some more 9th inning rally magic from the Tribe tied it up.  With the Indians down to their final out, Travis Buck, who has hit well in this series, doubled to left center to score a pinch-running Austin Kearns and tie the game at four.  The park was juiced up and ready for some extra innings heroics – but the balloon was quickly popped just two pitches into the top of the 10th.

[Read more...]

Choo breaks thumb, Travis Buck back up

Compounding the frustrations of last’s night loss in San Francisco is what appears to be a serious injury to Shin-Soo Choo.  His nightmare season continued in the fourth inning last night when a pitch from Jonathan Sanchez ran in on on him and hit his left hand.  It was confirmed last night that he had a broken left thumb.  He was immediately placed on the 15 day DL.  While further examination is required, it’s unlikely he’s back on the field in that time span.  ESPN.com speculated this morning that Choo could be out for the year, or close to it.

To fill his roster spot, Travis Buck was called back up from Columbus.  He has been on the I-71 yo-yo that Jenny Lewis trademarked over the past few years (sadly, Jensen was finally let go from Columbus yesterday).  Buck is hitting .228/.278/.347 in 32 games this season with the big league club.  The Tribe outfield is in complete disarray.

Buck and fan fav Austin Kearns will likely platoon in right while Choo is out.  The already struggling lineup is now littered with platoon and utility players – Buck, Kearns, and Shelley Duncan will now all see regular outfield duties.  It’s going to be a slog to get to the All-Star break.

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Austin Kearns: Why is he still here?

Jon touched on it yesterday, but over 24 hours removed from Austin Kearns’s strikeout to end the game on Tuesday night, and I’m still in disbelief. The fact that Kearns remains a bench option, the last one it turns out for manager Manny Acta on that night, is a mystery to me. In my opinion, GM Chris Antonetti has some explaining to do, because what I see is a talented outfield in Columbus and a gaping hole on the bench in Cleveland, and it’s been that way for nearly three months now.

This season, Kearns is hitting .207 with 0 homers and 2 RBI in 87 at-bats over 30 games. He’s been part of the Tribe’s left field mix that has included Michael Brantley, Travis Buck, and Shelley Duncan, mainly getting his starts against lefties. His playing time has dipped recently with the return of Grady Sizemore, but the fact that he’s wasting a roster spot right now, with the Tribe offense still trying to find its way, is infuriating for yours truly.

There have been several instances this season where his presence has hurt the Tribe, but this is the first time it was undeniably a killer for the Indians. Heck, I would’ve rather kept Everett in the game and let him have a crack at bringing the tying run home from third. At least Everett has made some contact this year.

[Read more...]

Red Sox 4 Indians 2: Running Into a Loss

The one thing I love about Actaball is that the Indians are a fundamentally sound club that rarely beats itself. Last night, the aggressive base-running that has worked so well all season backfired not once, not twice, but four times in the 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

The Indians were first on the board in the second inning. With two out, Ezequiel Carrera hit a two-out RBI single bringing in Travis Buck, but Orlando Cabrera was nailed trying to advance to third, robbing Michael Brantley of a chance to add to the 1-0 lead. It was an aggressive play, but as the old baseball adage says “you never make the third out at third.”

The Red Sox took the lead in the top of the third against Fausto Carmona on a Jed Lowrie sac fly and a two out RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez. Like so many times this year, Carmona seems to be one pitch away from avoiding major trouble, and then gets bitten. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Review: The Most Unlikely of Sweeps in the Most Unlikely of Seasons

OK, so heading into Friday’s series opener with the Cincinnati Reds in the Battle of Ohio, the Indians had Grady Sizemore already on the disabled list and were forced to place smokin-hot DH Travis Hafner on the DL as well with an oblique strain. Early indications were that Pronk would miss four to six weeks. Travis Buck, who had just come up to replace Sizemore and has been hitting the ball well, was a late scratch Friday night with turf toe. Things looked blique for our fair Wahoo Warriors and as I wrote on Friday for Cleveland.com, this felt like a real dangerous time for them. The schedule is a murderers row of teams through the first week in June and the injuries were piling up.

So what did the Indians do this weekend?

They swept the Reds right out of Progressive Field, winning all three games in different fashion. This was truly the most unlikely of sweep in this most unlikely of seasons. [Read more...]

White Sox 8 Indians 2: Fausto’s Nemesis Gets Him Again

I don’t know what it is about the Chicago White Sox this season, but the Indians seem to have an adverse reaction to the South Side Nine. Despite dominating the rest of the American League, the Tribe can’t seem to solve the strikeout prone, fourth place Sox.

Last night’s 8-2 thrashing at US Cellular Field was the fourth time in five games the White Sox have beaten the Indians. They are 25-11 against the rest of the league.

In the majority of these four losses, the Tribe has been competitive at least. Not last night. Even the 15-10 home opening loss they showed some life. In the swampy nature of this Chicago May evening, the Indians played like they were in a fog themselves. [Read more...]

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. [Read more...]

Some Final Thoughts on the Indians’ Opening Day Roster

Now that the dust has settled on the Indians’ opening day roster, we can finally spend some time combing through the decisions the Indians made this week.  Let’s take a look at the various groups to see if we can divine any of the motivations, upside and consequences of the first iteration of the 2011 25-man roster.

Starting Pitchers: The opening four have been set since sometime in November, with Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot being guaranteed spots in the rotation.  [Read more...]

Waiving Goodbye to Jensen Lewis?

I’m sure some of you will be terribly offended by this post, since you already know MLB’s waiver rules like the back of your hand.  If that’s the case, by all means, accept my profoundest apologies.  But for the rest of us who need a little schoolin’ on some of the finer points of MLB’s transaction rules, let’s get it on.

On Monday, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Jensen Lewis had been placed on waivers.  And some people—not you, of course; you’re very smart—didn’t quite understand what that meant.  Was Lewis cut?  Was he still allowed in camp?  If a team claimed him, could the Indians pull him back and protect him?  Was Jack Hannahan to blame?  What about Russell Branyan?  I love blaming that guy for stuff.

So all together now, let’s get on the same page.  According to Keith Law, formerly a member of the Toronto Blue Jays front office and writing at baseballanalysts.com:

There are three kinds of waivers in MLB: [Read more...]

Tuesday Tribe Notes: Lots of Decisions Still to Be Made

We are less than two weeks away from opening day, and the Indians still have many question marks lingering around the final 25-man roster. Injury timetables and up and down Spring performances have left a lot to still be dissected by GM Chris Antonetti and his staff. Last year in Manny Acta’s first Spring as Indians skipper, he wanted a full week of games where his regulars would play in the spots they would start the season in.

This year is not as simple.

So what is there left to determine? [Read more...]

What (the) Buck Are You Talking About?

According to this Jordan Bastain tweet, the Indians signed Travis Buck to a minor league contract today with an invite to Big League camp

I know what you’re thinking: Who

But I actually like this deal quite a bit for reasons I’ll delve into below, even though it probably won’t end up meaning all that much in the long-run.  Let’s explore.

First though, I should be clear: Travis Buck hasn’t been very good in professional baseball so far, and that’s not even accounting for the multiple injuries with which he’s struggled.  Throughout parts of the last four seasons, Buck has put up a .250/.330/.424  line (.331 wOBA/.754 OPS) as a corner OF for the Oakland A’s.  During that time, he’s bounced around the minor leagues and the DL, resulting in only 669 Major League plate appearances–about as many as Matt LaPorta has.  He’s struggled so much recently that Oakland refused to call him up last September and decided to non-tender him this off-season, allowing the Indians to offer him a minor league contract.

OK.  Enough with the Debbie-Downer spiel.  Here’s why I like the deal: [Read more...]