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Indians Indians Archive Wahoo Week In Review: 4/15-4/22
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

Contrary to reports, Shin-Soo Choo did not miss Michael Brantley’s high five in this picture. This column is a heck of a lot more enjoyable to write when it doesn’tbrantleychoo follow a Chris Perez blown save, but it will happen. I would be perfectly content with Chris Perez converting 85% of his save chances this year. The Indians head to Minnesota having split four games with the upstart Royals and a first place 13-6 record.

This week’s results:

4/15: Baltimore 2, Cleveland 8

4/16: Baltimore 3, Cleveland 8

4/17: Baltimore 2, Cleveland 4

4/18: Cleveland 7, Kansas City 3

4/19: Cleveland 4, Kansas City 5

4/20: Cleveland 7, Kansas City 5

4/21: Cleveland 2, Kansas City 3

Record: 5-2, 40 runs scored, 23 runs allowed (RS: 5.71/game; RA: 3.29/game)

Tribal chiefs:

jtomlinJosh Tomlin: 13.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R/ER, 1 BB, 8 K

Grady Sizemore: 8-for-19, HR, 3 RBI

Michael Brantley: 7-for-21, 0 HR, 0 RBI

Justin Masterson: 13 IP, 10 H, 3 R/ER, 6 BB, 6 K

The Indians scored 20 runs over the four games against Kansas City, yet I feel completely unsatisfied with the offense. Either that’s the point that we are at this season or I am really hard to please. For long stretches of time, the Indians offense looked dormant and inept in this series. However, when they got some confidence rolling through the lineup, they put up crooked numbers. Of the 37 innings in the series, the Tribe scored in 11 of them and did not hit a single home run in Kansas City. 12 of the 20 runs came in the 7th inning or later.

The series was the complete opposite of how the Indians played in their first 13 games. Questionable defense, playing without the lead, and a boatload of walkscowboyjoe hampered the Indians. That said, they managed to split the series thanks to some timely hitting and a couple of very good starts. Part of the walk parade was thanks to a quartet of the most incompetent umpires in the league. Cowboy Joe West should do himself a favor and focus on his music career. It needs plenty of focus. After Wednesday night’s game, I listened to a sample of his mega-hit “Blue Cowboy”. Somehow, listening to his music was more infuriating than watching him call balls and strikes.

Looking at the tone of my column thus far, I realize that I sound downtrodden and frustrated with a week where the Indians went 5-2. Being at the point where I can nitpick a winning week is fantastic. Last year, there was a culture of losing on the field, in the clubhouse, and with the fanbase. Now, we’re all pissed off when they lose a game. Apathy no longer reigns supreme. The bandwagon is slowly filling up again. It’s great to be at this point.

Shin-Soo Choo has a hit in 12 of his 19 games. He’s hitting .203. If he gets 550 at bats, he is on pace to strike out 156 times.  The Indians are 13-6. At some point, Choo will begin hitting the cover off the ball and all will be right again. For now, the Indians entered Thursday’s game leading the league in batting average. To reiterate, their best hitter is hitting .203.

Along the same lines, Carlos Santana is slowly coming around. Santana has walked five times in his last four games, adding four hits. Teams have given him the Atkins Diet of Breaking Balls and his plate discipline looks like it is starting to adjust. He is laying off more frequently and starting to hit mistakes with more authority. To reiterate, Carlos Santana is 14-for-65. Shin-Soo Choo is 15-for-74. That is a combined 29-for-139. The Indians entered Thursday’s game leading the AL in batting average.

Grady Sizemore’s return to the lineup was quite eventful. He homered in his second at bat and added a double later in the game. He has not had the chance togradyhrtrot
steal a base yet, but he has tested that knee to make a diving catch in the Kansas City series. A 75% or better Grady Sizemore is a million times better than the Burns platoon in left field. The only concern with Sizemore in the lineup is that with Brantley in LF and Sizemore patrolling CF, there are tee ball teams with better arms in the outfield. I wonder if we could have Choo run behind Grady on flyballs, have Grady run the option, pitch to Choo, and then have Choo throw people out.

joesmithsideThe bullpen had not allowed a hit for 27 straight batters prior to Tony Sipp’s implosion on Wednesday night. He followed it up with a weak outing on Thursday. He is the key to this bullpen. Pestano will be prone to lots of inconsistency and Sipp is the only real bridge to Chris Perez. In the credit where it’s due department, Chad Durbin had 2.2 innings of solid relief in Tuesday’s game to give the Indians a chance to climb back in the game.

My Manny Acta Moment: I tweeted at Manny Acta on Tuesday about giving Hannahan the day off against lefty Bruce Chen. While Hannahan’s 2010 splits gave credence to the move, Hannahan’s .545 average against southpaws entering the game said otherwise. Also saying otherwise was Hannahan’s two run double off diminutive Tim Collins in Wednesday’s win. A nitpicky criticism, but one worth noting because the two-run 2B felt like it validated my opinion.

I will preface this criticism by saying that Manny Acta has pushed all the right buttons this year. However, when Acta went to Tony Sipp on Thursday night after Tomlin’s leadoff walk in the 8th, I said aloud, to nobody in particular, “No, Manny. Give Tomlin a chance to get out of it.” I have no way of knowing what would have happened. In my opinion, the Indians need to give Tomlin the opportunity to prove that he can get out of a jam late in a game.

Tony Sipp entered the game and allowed Chris Getz to easily take second base. Forgive my ignorance, but how hard can it be for a lefty to keep a runner close at first base? Sipp got Melky Cabrera to fly out, but then walked Alex Gordon, the man who he was really brought on to face.

Give Tomlin a chance. He gave up a leadoff single in the 7th and promptly got a double play.

Josh Tomlin has boulders on the bump. He has an average fastball, average to a tick above average secondary stuff, but a plus heart and a plus set of stones. Let the kid prove himself, especially with the way Sipp looked the day before.

The three biggest plays from this week:

#3: Asdrubal Temporarily Saves the Day: Asdrubal Cabrera’s all-out effort on Jeff Francoeur’s 8th inning infield single kept the tying run at third base, even though his flip to 2B was about two seconds slow. Give credit to Ned Yost for pinch running Jerome Dyson for Billy Butler. Vinnie Pestano got out of the inning, but Chris Perez’s blown save made this play appear insignificant in the box score.

#2: Hannahan Hammers a Hanger: After a couple futile bunt attempts, Jack Hannahan had to swing away against Tiny Tim Collins. On an 0-2 pitch, Collins threw a looping meatball hanging curve and Hannahan mashed the mistake down the right field line. Given what happened to Tony Sipp in the ninth, the runs proved to be huge as the Indians won 7-5.

#1: Hey you guys!: The affectionately nicknamed Sloth Duncan came up in a big spot to drill an RBI double in the 10th inning, again off Tim Collins, to break a 3-3 tie. Hitting became contagious and four Tribesmen touched home plate en route to a 7-3 extra inning win.

Looking ahead: The Indians will see a lot of the Central Division this week, traveling to Minnesota before entertaining Kansas City and Detroit at the Jake to finish out the month of April. Tom Hamilton likes to note that the MLB schedule makers sit around and get drunk while producing the season schedule. Worth noting here is that Kansas City has played 14 of their 19 games at home, Minnesota will be entering just their third series at home of the year, and the Tigers will come to town for their first road series against a division foe.

One final note: With eight games left to play in April, the Indians are seven games over .500. If they win at least two of the final eight, they secure themselves their first .500+ April since 2007 where they started 14-8. Confidence is one of the most important assets to a baseball player. The longer the Indians stay in this race, the better their chances are. This is not a team built to erase a seven or eight game deficit. As evidenced so far, this team has the potential to be very streaky. They have two lengthy win streaks spawned from consecutive losses.

The starting pitching will not continue going this good, but the two top offensive players in the lineup will not continue hitting .206. As the pitching regresses to its mean, the Indians will need their best threats to drive in runs.  The rule of thumb is that you begin to evaluate a team after the 40 game mark. The Indians are nearly halfway to that point and have totally exceeded expectations.

On that note, as the Tribe comes back home this week, SUPPORT YOUR TEAM! This is a very likable group with some talent and a desire to come to the ballpark every day. They believe that they can beat anybody and it shows on the field. Support them. They have earned it so far.

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