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The Final Word

Oct 02, 2014 -- 2:37pm

By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

I'm depressed. I just witnessed my baseball team waste a season of great pitching.

The Tribe finished 2 games out of the playoffs. It might as well been 20.

I watched a team 81 times that scored 3 or fewer runs. The Indians lost 56 of them.

I watched a team make more errors than any other team in baseball and finish dead last in fielding.

The greatness of Cory Kluber, Michael Brantley, and Yan Gomes plus the incredible managing of Terry Francona was overshadowed by some of the most frustrating baseball on a game-to-game basis that I've ever seen.

Now we wait for next year. Right now optimism is not at the top of my list.

The Indians are spinning that the young pitching is better than ever and that they will fix the wrongs.

Speculation is that the front office is counting on Nick Swisher being healthy, Jason Kipnis rebounding from an awful year, and everyone else being a little bit better.

First, if they are really counting on Swisher rebounding, then they have their heads in the sand. Swisher is sliding at warp speed down the hill known as a career.

Kipnis came to camp last year not in great shape, got a big long term contract then got hurt and played horribly. He sparred with the media and fans all season long.

Michael Bourn had hamstring problems all year long. But let's face it. He no longer steals bases and doesn't get on base enough to wreck havoc. He's just an average player at best right now.

Did I mention both Swisher and Bourn make a combined total of 28 million dollars and will be paid that for the next two years?

Once again it's dollars misspent.

Fixing the defense will also be no easy task. Lonnie Chisenhall is a clank at third and Kipnis has no range at second. Francisco Lindor is the clubs best defensive shortstop and playing him and moving Jose Ramirez to second would be the best option. But right now the club is adamant that Kipnis is their second baseman and Lindor is still a half season away.

It's obvious the Tribe needs at least one big bat in the middle of the lineup. But the belief is they won't spend the money to get one.

As good as the pitching was and will hopefully continue, you need to add more arms. You never have enough.

Honestly, I would trade anybody in the everyday lineup but Brantley, Gomes and maybe Carlos Santana.

If the Indians don't do anything dramatic then selling tickets will be impossible. Maybe they don't care.

All year long fans were interested in the team. TV ratings showed that. But the Indians did not get fans to invest in the club. Invest means going to the game and spending money.

Fans in general dislike the Dolans. Fair or unfair, right or wrong, this is perception and reality.

Nothing short of going to the World Series will change that.

And on top of that, fans believe it costs too much to go to games. That is ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Indians 2014 season

Sep 29, 2014 -- 5:38am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

For the first time since 2000-01 the Indians secured back-to-back winning seasons, the only problem is they missed the postseason. To describe this year, it would be comparable to a roller coaster. Through the ups and the downs were the good, the bad and the ugly that made up the season. Here’s a look at a few things that made this year what it was.

The Good

Corey Kluber – A top three candidate and a potential winner for the American League CY Young award, Kluber not only led his team, but was tied for league best in wins with 18. His 2.44 ERA ranked third in the AL and seventh in the Majors, proving that he’s now a legitimate ace for the Tribe. The crazy thing about all of this is he accomplished these numbers with the worst ranked defense in all of baseball behind him.

Michael Brantley – Probably the best player in the AL this year not named Mike Trout, and that’s no joke. Brantley this season had a slash line of .327/.385/.506 to go along with 20 homers and a team high 97 RBI. He also became the first Indian since Kenny Lofton in 1996 to have 200 hits in a season.

Yan Gomes – For a guy who had to manage a staff, and deal with the physical grind of catching, Gomes put together a very solid season. He hit .278 with 21 homers and 74 RBI, ranking offensively as one of the top five catchers in the game. To go along with his offensive game, he managed a starting staff who’s ERA after the All-Star break ranked second lowest in the AL at 3.04. Defensively, Gomes committed the most errors by a catcher with 15, but his caught stealing percentage was third best in the MLB at 32 percent.

The bullpen – The biggest bright spot on the team from start to finish, the units ERA this season ranked seventh in all of Major League Baseball at 3.13.

Terry Francona – He was the AL Manager of the Year for the 2013 season, and there’s a good argument Francona should very well receive that award again. This season was much different then last, as he didn’t have a productive Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson or Danny Salazar at his side. His team went through stretches of numerous defensive miscues, injuries and offensive slumps, but was still able to will his ball club to an 85-77 record. The biggest part out of all of this was the ability to keep his ball club focused and calm through out the season.

Carlos Santana – It was a struggle for Santana in the first half of the season, hitting just .206 compared to his post All-Star batting average of .260. He led the team in homers with 27, and ranked second in RBI with 85. Santana also ranked first among all Major League hitters in walks with 113. On the defensive side of things, Santana started the season off as the club’s starting third baseman and back up catcher, but that quickly changed, as he moved over to play a pretty solid first base due to a rash of injuries.

The Bad

John Axford – The Indians paid Axford $4.5 million to be the team's closer, but that lasted just until the end of April, as Francona decided to go closer by committee. Axford had a solid month of April, picking up nine saves, but fizzled out and then remained a reliever with okay numbers, until he was placed on waivers. The Pirates claimed him off waivers on Aug. 14.

Danny Salazar – He was disappointing to start the season, going 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA in eight starts. However, after spending some time in Triple-A Columbus, Salazar bounced back. His numbers post All-Star break was a 5-4 record with a 3.40 ERA.

Michael Bourn – It was another year where Bourn battled the injury bug, as his hamstring gave him fits all season long. When he was in the line up he batted .260 with three homers and 28 RBI. His stolen bases total dropped again going from 23 swiped bases in 2013 to just 10 in 2014. Bourn’s the typical speed guy whose skills are now starting to diminish in his career.

Zach McAllister – McAllister in 2013 posted a solid season, going 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA, however, this year was much different. He bounced back and fourth between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus, struggling to put together a solid year, as he went 4-7 with a 5.23 ERA.

The Ugly

Nick Swisher – Just when things looked bad last season for Swisher, it only got worse this year. Swisher’s .208 batting average, eight home runs and 42 RBI were all career worsts for him. His knees gave him problems all season long, turning him into a $15 million dollar DH, who’s not even serviceable in that regard.

The defense – The Indians' defense was ranked dead last this year, committing a total of 116 errors. Enough said.

The offense – Sure the offense ranked 11th in runs scored this season with 662, but the numbers are a bit skewed. There were stretches by the Tribe where they would have eight or 10 run ball games, and then have a stretch of games where they were lucky they scored five runs in a series.

Jason Kipnis – Like Swisher, injuries riddled Kipnis this season, as he battled an oblique injury. An All-Star last year, he hit .240 with six homers and 41 RBI in 129 games in 2014. Not only did he struggle at the plate, but also on the diamond, as he flashed hardly any range up the middle at second.

The month of April – The old sane is, ‘you can’t win the division in April, but you certainly can lose it’, and that held some truth, as the Indians went 10-17 to start the season. Getting too far behind that early really put a hurt on the Tribe, as they played catch up for some portion of the first half of the season.

Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera – Two guys on contract years that the Indians expected big things out of, but fell short. In 19 starts Masterson went 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA compared to last season when he led the team with a 14-10 record and a 3.45 ERA. As for Cabrera it seems like an eternity ago for when he was an All-Star. The shortstop struggled defensively and offensively, posting a .246 average with nine homers and 40 RBI. The poor play by both Masterson and Cabrera resulted in the organization trading them before the deadline to St. Louis and Washington respectively.

Upcoming Free Agents – None, however, utility man Mike Aviles has a $3.5-million club option for the 2015 season with a $250k buyout.

Worth Quoting – “That’s always the hardest one. You go 100 miles per hour since February 10 and you’re with this group all day every day and then all of a sudden it comes to a crashing halt and you go home.” - Indians manager Terry Francona on the end of the season 

 

 

 

Wednesday night's Indians game against Twins rained out

Sep 10, 2014 -- 5:26pm

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ Chris Coon

Wednesday night's game against the Minnesota Twins was postponed due to rain and will be made up on Thursday as part of a traditional doubleheader. 

Tickets from Wednesday's game will be good for Thursday, but fans must exchange their tickets at the Progressive Field ticket office beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday morning. Gates will open at 11 a.m.

For fans holding tickets for Wednesday's game that can't attend the game on Thursday, they can exchange them no later than Sept. 24 for one of five eligible games - Sept. 22-24, Sept. 26 or Sept. 28. 

The pitching matchups for game one on Thursday will be Indians' starter Corey Kluber (14-9, 2.47 ERA), he'll go against Minnesota's original starter for Wednesday night,  Kyle Gibson (11-10, 4.27 ERA). Game two will be Wednesday's night's original starter for the Tribe, lefty T.J. House (2-3, 3.71 ERA), he'll face off against the Twins' Ricky Nolasco (5-10, 5.87 ERA).

 

 

 

Carrasco dominates in 2-0 win, as Tribe sweeps the White Sox

Sep 07, 2014 -- 5:35pm

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

 

The Indians picked up their third straight win, as they swept the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, beating them, 2-0, at Progressive Field.

Quick Hits

  • With Sunday’s win the Indians remain in third place in the American League Central, but improve to 74-67 on the season. 
  • The White Sox remain in fourth place in the AL Central after the loss, but drop to 63-79 on the year.
  • Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco pitched a scoreless 8 2/3 innings, while allowing four hits, walking no one and striking out eight. He improves to 7-4 on the season.
  • Chicago’s Scott Carroll falls to 5-10 with a 4.92 ERA.
  • Indians’ reliever Cody Allen picked up his 19th save of the year.
  • Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and Roberto Perez each had two hits for the Tribe.

MVP of the Game – Since rejoining the rotation, Carrasco is 4-0 with a 0.70 ERA (3 ER/38.2 IP) in six starts. In that span he’s thrown 42 strikeouts, while walking just four batters. Carrasco in three of those last four starts has struck out eight or more batters.

Carrasco’s command was on point Sunday, as he walked no one and struck out eight. His fastball had very good movement on it, giving right-handers fits all day, while also producing a pretty filthy curveball. He was effective with his pitch count, only throwing 104 pitches through a scoreless 8 2/3 innings, and he did a good job throwing strikes.

Runs are at a Premium – This weekend in a three-game series against the White Sox the Indians struggled in producing runs, scoring an average of 2.3 runs per game. Luckily for the Tribe Chicago drove in less runs, scoring just two combined. On Sunday the Tribe got things going in the first inning, when Bourn hit a triple over Chicago centerfielder Adam Eaton, who misjudged the ball. For Bourn that was his AL leading 10th triple of the year, and he now ranks second in the Majors in that category, just two shy behind Los Angeles-NL Dee Gordon.

In that same inning Brantley picked up his team leading 89th RBI of the year on a single to center, driving in Bourn. Brantley had two hits on Sunday marking it the 48th time this season he’s had a multi-hit performance. The left-handed hitter is also riding an 11-game hitting streak, where he’s batting .422 (19-for-45).

The other run by the Indians came in the eighth inning when Carlos Santana grounded out to second with the bases loaded and one out. On Sunday Santana became just the fifth Indian in franchise history (first switch hitter) to reach 25 home runs and 100 walks in a season, after he drew a walk in the first.

Closing Time – After a recent string of unsuccessful save opportunities where he blew saves against Detroit on Aug. 30 and Sept. 2, Allen was able to enter Sunday’s game and notch his 19th save of the season. It took the unofficial closer three pitches, but he was able to get Chicago’s Connor Gillaspie to line out to center to end the ball game.

Stepping up Big – The Indians starting rotation this year is posting a 3.95 ERA, which ranks 19th in the Majors, however, since the second half of the season they have compiled a 2.82 ERA. With Sunday’s pitching performance from Carrasco, the Tribe’s rotation ERA since Aug. 9 is now 1.84. The team in that span has a record of 17-8, while the starters have struck out 168 and walked just 40.

A Stat from Left Field – The Indians own the fourth highest home winning percentage in the A.L and the seventh highest in the Majors at 43-28.

Worth Quoting – “My goodness. He looks so strong, and sometimes you just wonder if a couple starts they’ll get a little fatigued, because you haven’t stretched him out, but he just looks like he’s getting stronger.” – Indians’ manager Terry Francona on Carlos Carrasco’s recent success in the rotation again

Up Next – The Indians will take on Los Angeles-AL on Monday, making up their June 18 game that was postponed due to rain. On the mound for the Tribe is RHP Danny Salazar (6-6, 3.80 ERA), he’ll go against Angels RHP Jared Weaver (15-8, 3.56 ERA). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

 

 

Kluber tosses complete game in 3-1 win over White Sox

Sep 06, 2014 -- 11:24pm

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

The Indians picked up their second straight win on Saturday night, thanks in part to strong pitching from ace Corey Kluber, as they beat the White Sox, 3-1, at Progressive Field.

Quick Hits

  • With the Indians win on Saturday they now improve to 73-67 on the season, but sit in third place in the American League Central. They’re five-games behind front running Kansas City, and four-games away from the second wild-card spot.
  • Chicago now drops to 63-78 on the season, and are in fourth place in the AL Central.
  • Tribe starter Corey Kluber pitched a complete game for his 14th win of the season, improving his ERA to 2.47.
  • White Sox starter Jose Quntana didn’t factor in the decision, pitching six innings, while allowing one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out seven.
  • Chicago reliever Zach Putman picked up the loss, he’s now 4-3 with a 2.15 ERA.
  • Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley each went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Carlos Santana had a solo homer for the Indians.

MVP of the Game – Entering Saturday night’s game, Kluber had dropped three straight starts for the first time in his career, however, he got things back on track, pitching a complete game. Kluber was effective with his pitch count, tossing 104 pitches, while allowing one unearned run on five hits and striking out eight for his 14th win of the season.

Kluber set the tone right off the bat, retiring the first seven batters he faced. His command was solid on both sides of the plate, and he threw exclusively fastballs to the first eight batters he faced. Kluber has also now allowed two or fewer earned runs in 13 of his last 16 starts, and has limited opponents to four or fewer earned runs in each of his last 29 starts. Saturday night’s complete game also made it his third this season, the most by any Indian since Len Barker in 1981.

Spark Plug – In his last 16 games, Ramirez is hitting .328 (22-for-67) with nine runs and six RBI. Eight of those games have been multi-hit performances by the infielder. Saturday night Ramirez went 3-for-4, while coming up big in the seventh with an RBI triple off the right field wall, scoring Michael Bourn. It looks like with each game Ramirez play in, he gains more confidence offensively and defensively, proving to be a true spark plug for this Tribe team.

Keeping it Going – Santana hit his team leading 25th home run of the season in the fourth inning, while picking up his 72nd RBI of the year. It was the first pitch he saw from Quintana, making it his 99th  homer of his career. Santana may be the most dangerous .229 hitter in the league, as he now ranks 10th in the AL in home runs. He’s also the first Indian since 2011 to hit 25 or more home runs, with the last Indian being Santana when he hit 27.

As for the other guy who’s kept things going, it’s Brantely, who has now hit safely in 10 straight games and 12 of his last 13 (.352 during that span). He also drove in his 88th RBI of the season in the seventh when he hit a single to right, scoring Ramirez. Brantley also swiped his 19th bag of the year, and is 19-for-20 in stolen base attemps.

Defensive Blunders – The Indians on Saturday night recorded their 108th error of the season, when Chicago’s Adam Eaton hit a ground ball to first base. The ball deflected off of the glove of Jesus Aguilar and into right field, scoring Jordan Danks.

Two batters before that Danks hit a pitch to Jason Kipnis that appeared to be catchable, but instead it hit off the glove of Kipnis and went to center field. Though it wasn’t ruled an error, Kipnis still should’ve made a play on the ball. To be fair the Indians did make a few solid plays, especially when Michael Bourn made a diving catch erasing a single from Eaton, and two potential runs in the fifth.

The New Guy – On Friday the Indians acquired outfielder J.B. Shuck from the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations. Shuck, an Ohio State product hit just .167 with two homers and nine RBI in 22 games this season with Angels. However, in Triple-A this season he hit .320 in 102 games.

As a rookie last season, the left-handed hitter played in a 129 games for Los Angeles, batting .293 with two home runs and 39 RBI, good enough to finish fifth in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.

A Stat from Left Field – The Indians starting rotation in their last 25 games has an ERA of 1.94 (33 earned runs in 153 innings).

Worth Quoting –“I was just telling him (Kluber) I was going to talk to you guys (media) about the direction of his play, so you guys would get off him being tired.” – Indians’ manager Terry Francona on Kluber and how much he’s pitched

Up Next – The Indians continue their three-game home series against the White Sox on Sunday. On the mound for the Tribe is RHP Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 2.94), he’ll go against Chicago RHP Scott Carroll (5-9, 5.07 ERA). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

 

 

Tribe falls to Tigers, 11-4, after seven-run 11th inning

Sep 05, 2014 -- 12:47am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

On Thursday night the Indians fell to the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field, 11-4 in 11 innings.

Quick Hits

  • With the Indians 11-4 loss, they’re now 71-67 on the season and sit in third place in the American League Central. They're also six-games out of first place behind front running Kansas City, and five-games out of the final wild-card spot.
  • Detroit improves to 77-63 on the season and are in second place in the AL central. They currently own the second wild-card spot in the AL.
  • Indians’ starter Trevor Bauer pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits, while walking and striking out four. He did not factor in the decision.
  • Tigers’ Max Scherzer threw six innings, where he gave up four hits along with three-runs. He walked three and struck out six, but did not factor in the decision also.
  • Tribe reliever Josh Tomlin picked up the loss, he drops to 6-9 on the season.
  • Detroit’s Phil Coke picked up the win, he improves to 4-2.
  • Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley each had two hits for the Indians.
  • The Tigers’ Ian Kinsler went 2-for-3 Thursday night with a double, while Victor Martinez had a homer run and three RBI.

LVP of the Game – Tomlin pitched just a third of an inning in the 11th but allowed a total of five earned runs on three hits, while walking two. The poor showing by Tomlin resulted into a seven run affair in the 11th, as Indians’ reliever Bryan Price followed right after, surrendering two runs on two hits in two thirds of an inning. The dagger through the heart for the Tribe was when Tomlin allowed a three-run homer to Victor Martinez in the 11th, making the score at the time 9-4.

Bauer Outing – It was a struggle early on for Bauer, as he had a 38 pitch four-run first inning. Right off the bat things started going sour, as he gave up a leadoff double to Detroit’s Ian Kinsler. Sluggish starts this season for the right-hander have been an issue, and the numbers don’t’ lie.

Entering Thursday night Bauer was posting a 6.55 ERA in the first inning compared to a 3.76 ERA after the first. Bauer in the next 4 2/3 innings pitched scoreless ball, allowing two hits, while walking one and striking out four.

Bauer on his outing

Chipping Away – Though the Indians were down four-runs to start the game, the offense slowly battled back. They scored their first-run in the fourth inning on a Yan Gomes sacrifice fly. In the sixth the Tribe scored a pair, when Gomes grounded out to third and Lonnie Chisnehall hit a shallow RBI single to left field. The Indians then tied the game up in the seventh on a two out RBI double by Brantley, making it 4-4.

A Stat from Left Field – The Indians have allowed 21 home runs to the Tigers this season, (six in this series) the most versus any opponent.

Worth Quoting – “They’ll be okay. The other night (Monday) after the tough loss, they came back with energy the next day. There’s nothing else to do, that’s really not a worry.” – Indians manager Terry Francona on making sure his team ignores Thursday’s loss

Up Next – The Indians will open up a three-game home series against Chicago on Friday. On the mound for the Tribe is LHP T.J. House (2-3, 3.92 ERA), he’ll go against the White Sox LHP Chris Sale (11-3, 2.11 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

 

 

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