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Indians Indians Archive 2010 Indians Lasting Moments: First Half
Written by Nino Colla

Nino Colla

choo_hat_tipThis is part one of a two part series on the Indians 2010 season.


Every season, regardless of outcome, has its ups and downs.

For the Indians in 2010, there are probably way more downs than ups and those downs are probably equal to a bottomless pit.

Still, if this team is going to move forward from what they’ve learned in 2010, they need to have learned their lessons from specific moments in time.

It’s also good to remember the good times, just for the sake of not having a totally bad taste in your mouth.

These are the lasting moments of the Tribe’s 2010 season. Some are good, some are bad, and others have a need for perspective after the fact.

April 2nd - Spring Training Ends

The Indians started spring on a high note and ended it with a 19-9-2 record, the second best win percentage of all 30 teams and best in the Cactus League.

Beyond the record, all the key parts to the 2010 offense were doing things worth getting excited about. Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner were knocking in runs, Matt LaPorta looked to be just about ready for 2010 performing better than expected, Asdrubal Cabrera was hitting, and most importantly Grady Sizemore was healthy.

Mark Shapiro went as far as to say that Sizemore had looked better than he’s ever seen him.

On the pitching side, Fausto Carmona looked unstoppable, Mitch Talbot started out real hot to gain control of the fifth rotation spot and thanks to a late push from Carlos Carrasco, David Huff nabbed the fourth spot.

The one downside was an injury to Kerry Wood that forced Chris Perez into the closers role and some shaky looking bullpen arms outside of Rafael Perez.

April 5th - Opening Day @ Chicago

A sense of hope for 30 teams in baseball is always prevalent on this day. Sure it means all of nothing if a team loses their first game since there are 161 left, but a 6-0 shutout at the hands of the White Sox is a harsh realization that there are 161 games left.

More than anything, Mark Buehrle staked claim to play of the year before any other nominees got a chance to step up. Lou Marson is still perplexed.

April 8th - Tribe wins series, Perez notches two saves

A few days later, after that sobering realization that this is going to be a long year, that glimmer of hope returns. Fausto Carmona showed signs of life and Chris Perez notched his second straight save in place of Kerry Wood.

Grady Sizemore comes alive with three hits and three RBI, including an insurance run in the 11th inning when he doubled home Asdrubal Cabrera.

April 11th - Perez implodes, Tigers sweep

A few close losses in the Tigers could have been wiped clean after Luis Valbuena (of all people!) took Justin Verlander downtown with a grand slam and Jake Westbrook put forth a winning effort.

But then double the Perez, double the trouble as they collectively give up five runs. More spectacular was Chris’ ninth inning implosion that led to walking Johnny Damon with the bases loaded to tie it and uncorking a wild pitch to end it.

April 12th - Home Opener

It was the first crowd of the year and also the largest. Another hopeful performance by Fausto Carmona was stalled by a stalemate offensively. Chris Perez returned a day after his implosion to put two hitters on without recording an out.

Jamey Wright (remember me?) was the ultimate goat after he threw a pitch that was screaming “hit me” as it crossed the plate and crashed into the bat of Nelson Cruz.

April 18th - Sweeping Sox

Fausto Carmona improved to 2-0, Chris Perez notched his fourth save (all against Chicago), and everyone was asking the same question: Can we play Chicago every day?

April 28th - Don’t bunt on me

One pitch, one bunt, one run, one irate reliever.

Locked in a stalemate with the Angels, Manny Acta went to his closer Chris Perez with two on and two out. Up to the plate strolled Howie Kendrick with a thought that bench coach Ron Roenicke (in charge, with Mike Scioscia tossed) put into his head: Don’t dismiss the idea of bunting.

Bunt Kendrick did with the defense playing back and Perez not expecting such a move. Little did Chris know it wouldn’t be the last time a bunt foiled him and his Tribe.

May 5th - Still looking for number five, thanks Baby Louie

Chris Perez was sure to notch his fifth save, and finally his first against a team other than the White Sox, when the Blue Jays entered the ninth down two runs thanks to a Luis Valbuena double in the eighth.

Little did Perez or any one else know that what Luis Valbuena giveth, he can also taketh away. Aaron Hill reached safely to bring his team within one after Valbuena let a routine game-ending grounder roll right through his legs.

One hitter later, Adam Lind clocked one to left field, the Tribe was behind and to make sure everyone remembered what he had done, Valbuena committed another blunder before the inning ended.

May 7th - It never happened and it never will

One of the most significant moments of this past season never officially happened. All for the better for David Huff who got smashed early, but when you look back at 2010 stats and see a big goose egg in Grady Sizemore’s home run column, try to remember that wasn’t the case.

Sizemore wasn’t shutout; it was on this day that the soon-to-be injured center fielder hit his first home run of the season, but because of the game getting rained out before five completed innings, it wasn’t official. Less than two weeks later, Grady was placed on the disabled list and his season was over.

May 11th - Win for Westbrook

The last time Jake Westbrook won a game was April 8th, 2008. With some help from Russell Branyan who hit his first and second home runs of the season, Westbrook finally got back in the win column against Kansas City.

May 15th - Salute The Kearnal!

One of the bright spots of the Indians first half was Mitch Talbot, the rookie acquired from Tampa Bay for catcher Kelly Shoppach, who paired up with Carmona to give the Indians a decent tandem in the rotation.

Talbot went eight strong against Baltimore but was staring down a loss after two solo home runs to Ty Wigginton and no run support. That was until the ninth inning when young and bright eyed closer Alfredo Simon came in without a blemish on his record.

Shin-Soo Choo would bring the club within one with a single and set the stage for wonder-signing Austin Kearns to deliver a shocking blast to left field of Camden Yards. Four runs later Mitch Talbot had enough run-support for six more Ty Wigginton home runs and his fifth victory.

May 17th - It must be a west coast thing

It shouldn’t shock anyone that Joe Maddon would pull something of sorts. Not only because he’s an innovative manager but because he learned from the likes of the team who had already done something similar to the Indians earlier.

After yet another valiant effort from Fausto Carmona, the Tribe found themselves in yet another close one. Chris Perez blew the lead, though not the save with Kerry Wood (who would collect his first save later that week) back for ninth inning duties.

Jason Bartlett ended things in the 11th with more of a traditional type of a bunt, but still a no-doubt frustrating way to lose in walk-off fashion.

Perhaps what is forgotten in this game was the fact that the Indians lost their shortstop for an extended period of time when their old shortstop tried to bite off more than he could chew.

With the infield shifted, both Jhonny Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera dove up the middle in an attempt to field a ground ball. The result was neither getting to the ball and Cabrera riving in pain as his left forearm suffered a break at the hands, or body, of Peralta. Rookie Jason Donald would make his debut a day later and save a struggling Valbuena from demotion.

May 29th - It must be a Joba thing

David Huff was back in the clubhouse just a few hours after the fact, but for a few moments, the struggles on the mound became irrelevant. Huff lay motionless in the middle of new Yankees Stadium after a line drive off the bat of Alex Rodriguez struck him in the head.

Huff would make a remarkable return to the mound his next time up in the rotation, but the hit to the head was just one of the many hardships that the 2009 wins leader for the Tribe dealt with. After winning 11 games his rookie year, Huff lost 11 in 2010 and has fallen out of favor under Acta.

The game wasn’t over after Huff went down though. The Tribe battled back not only once against CC Sabathia, but twice. Unfortunately a stretched bullpen couldn’t keep up and the Yankees got out to a 10-4 lead by the fifth inning. But again, the Indians couldn’t be held back on this day.

As they’ve made a habit of in the past, the Indians put down Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning with an unlikely cast of characters. Lou Marson would start the scoring with a double and soon enough would repeat the act later to bring his team within one.

Jason Donald would put the Tribe ahead for good and the Indians would pull out yet another improbable victory over Chamberlain and the Yankees.

June 2nd - The Not-So-Perfect Game

If the teams the Indians were playing didn’t create these storylines, how ever would the Indians stay relevant?

Guilt by association, but the Indians claimed the spotlight for one night when umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe at first, instead of making him the 27th out of what should have been a perfect game.

Armando Galarraga will probably be remembered for a long time for missing out on history, but Jason Donald will forever be the answer to a very cool trivia question.

June 9th - Master of revenge

He had to outduel former teammate for most of the game, but Justin Masterson’s up and down season probably had one of his highest ups against Boston. Masterson tossed a shutout against his former club in an 11-0 victory, but it wasn’t until the eighth that the Indians busted out offensively.

Masterson won his second game of the season and it was one to savor because it would be nearly a month before he’d win again, which would be a recurring theme for Justin in 2010.

santana_skywardJune 11th though the 13th - Hope comes in a new form

I have the tickets stored away for safe keeping myself. I will never forget witnessing in person the arrival of Carlos Santana.

Not only did I get to see his debut against the Nationals on Friday, but I was there again to see him belt his first home run and guide Fausto Carmona to one of his better games of the season.

It may have been the Nationals and Indians, but you couldn’t make up better subplots.

- Manny Acta and Austin Kearns facing the team that dumped them.

- A hotshot rookie catcher making his debut at home in the middle of the order.

- A even more hyped pitcher making his first road start against said rookie catcher.

- A former Indian farmhand facing his old team.

Santana was 0-3 with a walk and a run in his debut, but perhaps his “I’m here moment” came really early when he gunned down Nyjer Morgan trying to steal early in the game.

It was Kearns shining brightest though with a pair of home runs and four RBI against his former club. Santana’s moment would come the next night. After successfully guiding Westbrook to his fourth win, Santana would help Carmona with the bat and behind the dish.

Carmona tossed a complete game, allowing just a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman as he faced just one over the minimum. Santana provided the offensive support as his first major league hit was a double down the line that scored a pair and gave the Tribe a 5-0 lead.

Santana wasn’t done against former Tribe prospect J.D. Martin as he clubbed his first major league home run in the fifth inning. It was Santana’s night all around and it set up a marquee rookie matchup on a Sunday afternoon in Cleveland.

After making his debut earlier in the week, Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg arrived in Cleveland with much media attention and fanfare for his first road start. Santana got the better of the matchup, drawing a walk and collecting a hit in three at-bats against the fireballer from San Diego State

It was Strasburg who got the last laugh though. Despite a solo home run from Travis Hafner in the second inning off a 100 mile per hour fastball, the right-hander bounced back to strike out eight and collect his second win. He didn’t last past the sixth inning, but Nationals bullpen and offense supported him to a 9-4 win. He also helped the Indians sell merchandise with red ’37 Strasburg’ t-shirts for sale at Progressive Field.

June 27th - One streak ends and another one begins

The loss to Strasburg started a run of absolute horror for the Indians that was probably their worst stretch of the season. The Indians lost 11 of 12, with one win coming against Pittsburgh. A seven game losing streak came to an end on the final day of interleague play in Cincinnati.

It was Mitch Talbot who ended the streak, picking up his eighth win of the season, but it was Shin-Soo Choo flexing his muscle and making a bid to be the Indians All-Star representative. Choo took Bronson Arroyo deep twice for his 11th and 12th blasts of the year and the win would start a run of five that included a sweep over Toronto.

This win streak coincided with the trade of Russell Branyan to Seattle. When Muscle’s old team came calling with two prospects of decent value, the Indians jumped at the deal, sending the first baseman west after he gave them 10 home runs. Matt LaPorta returned from Columbus with a vengeance and clubbed a home run against Toronto on Tuesday.

July 6th - Only with the Tribe in 2010

When a man fell out of the stands in a game at the Ballpark in Arlington, it only fit that the Indians were involved. Blown perfect games, fans falling out the stands, what else?

The man survived the fall, but at the time it seemed as if bad luck and misfortune didn’t just follow the Tribe, it spread to everyone around them but the opposing team, and in this case, the opposing team’s fans bore the brunt of it.

July 9th - You’re a shining star, our shining star

It wasn’t meant to be for Shin-Soo Choo in his bid to make the All-Star team. It was untimely and perhaps damaging to his case, but the strained thumb suffered in a game against Oakland on July 2nd threatened to be more damaging to his season.

Five days after Choo was placed on the disabled list, Carmona stepped up against the Rays and put an end to a three game losing streak and an end to a six game Rays win streak.

Carmona won his eighth game and gave up just two runs in 6.2 innings of work. It was enough to give Carmona the nod as the Indians lone All-Star representative. Though we’ll never know if Choo would have made the team had he been healthy, it was a nice reward for Carmona and all the work he put into his comeback.

In the same game, scrap-heap pick up Jayson Nix hit his sixth home run in seven games for the Tribe. With an injured Cabrera and a struggling Luis Valbuena, Nix took advantage of not only a new home after being dumped by the White Sox, but playing time.

The Indians would go into the All-Star break a few days later with a loss in extra innings to the Rays.


You can follow Nino on Twitter @TheTribeDaily where he often tweets about his parties with Andy Marte and sometimes about the Indians.

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