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Tribe Wins 3 of 4, 1.5 Back
Posted By Bradley Ross On Aug 19 2011 @ 6:31 pm In Cleveland Indians | 1 Comment
The Indians are on a roll recently. Their record might not fully reflect it but they are playing about as well as any team in the majors. In their last 15 games (since August 1st) they are 9-6. Consider that 10 of those 15 games were against the 3 division leaders in the American League and the first 7 of those were on the road against the 2 toughest of those leaders.
The Indians have now won 3 straight series, all against division rivals. When they used up their bullpen and lost in 14 innings against the White Sox there was reason for concern but Cleveland was able to pull out 2 straight. Now they head to Detroit where they should not have to face Justin Verlander. If they can win the series, that puts them a half a game back going into a home stand where they face 3 struggling teams.
I have been hard on Fausto Carmona in the past, but the Indians need to ride this hot streak as long as it lasts. I just hope Fausto from June doesn’t decide to show up. Fausto is not an awful pitcher, he is just unreliable. His ERA is back at a respectable level, as reflected in Quality Starts. A league average starting pitcher right now pitches a quality start ~55% of the time, Fausto is at exactly 50%. When he gets cold Carmona could cost the Indians some games. Its a good thing he has been hot because Ubaldo Jimenez has been a bit up and down since acquired. When switching leagues and facing all new batters some speed bumps and acclimations should be expected. Ubaldo’s stuff is nothing short of dominant, with18 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. He just isn’t placing the ball in the right spots and some well placed pitches still get hit.
The Indians are scoring 5 runs a game since August 1st. Only 3 teams in all of baseball are scoring at that pace. Jason Kipnis has been a big part of that, but he has been injured since last Saturday. Despite that, the Indians are still scoring runs. Its a team effort (hitting .265 as a team) which in this offensively challenged season is well above average.
Kosuke Fukudome is really feeling it and hitting .279 in August including .360 in the past week. Adding Carlos Santana (close to .300 BA in August) and Shin Soo-Choo who has been a nice addition since off the DL.
The bullpen has blown a few leads, but looking back at the last 2 weeks, its been positive for the Indians. They are hitting at a decent enough clip to stay competitive in every game while the starting pitching has been very solid. Any time your pitching staff is giving up just over 3 runs a game (3.06 ERA), there is a good chance to win every time out. Once Carrasco is healthy, the Indians may have a problem many teams would kill to have: too many good starting pitchers. Carrasco may end up being the odd man out because everyone else is pitching so well.
Every series with Detroit is a “must win” series. It won’t be the end of the world if they go 1-2 because they have 11 games at home with cellar dwellers KC, Oakland, and Seattle. If Cleveland goes 1-2 in every away series, they are more than capable of going 7-4 or 8-3 in the home stand.
In other baseball news: Jim Thome hit his 600th HR. Its an amazing accomplishment by a forgotten star. I do feel that the event deserved more fanfare than it got, at least as much as Derek Jeter got for his 3,000 hit, a milestone more hitters have reached than have reached the 600 Club
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