The good, the bad and the ugly from the White Sox series and preview of the Red Sox series Opinion by Justin Lada
Well the boys of summer are back in action. That means there is baseball back at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. (Waiting for long pause, questions among Clevelanders.)
Yes it’s true; the Indians did play baseball this weekend. Well the only game most people saw was Friday’s batting practice game, where the White Sox won the eventual track meet, 15-10.
After that the fans, or whatever they claimed to be, was the only game people seemed to want to be at this weekend.
Opening day always brings out some terrible sports fans. Sure, they buy the tickets, and the Indians need that. But they show up, buy four or five $7 beers (in addition or the 12 pack they drank before the game), and turn the bleachers into the ‘Dawg Pound’. However, the Indians have to appreciate all fans.
The Indians drew less than 20,000 in the last two games of the series. After a financial sellout of the home opener, the Indians lost more than 10,000 in game two, and another thousand in game three.
At this rate the Indians won’t even have the media showing up by Easter Sunday.
However the Indians did manage to salvage one game against the heavy bats of Chicago.
Here’s the good, the bad, the ugly and some things I thought about the first series of the season.
Carlos Santana: He has to be the best thing about this series. Most importantly his surgically repaired knee looked to be 100%. That is evidenced by going 6-13 this series, including a home run in the opener. Santana’s opening weekend OBP is .538. Sure that number will go down over time, but that should give you inkling on how important he is to this team.
We haven’t even mentioned the super athletic catch
Not only was the catch athletic, but it came from a guy making his first career start at first base, from being an original third baseman, to full time catcher. He is truly the glue to the offense.
Jack Hannahan: This is a surprise to even me. A lot of people had no clue who this guy was on opening day. Now people are sending texts that look like this: JACK HANNAHAN!! MY BOY!
What a difference a weekend makes in a guy’s career. People went from wondering why the Indians were playing the Zoo guy; Jack Hanna at third base, to people actually not wanting to drink excessively each time the ball went to the hot corner. Okay I know it’s only a few games; however the Indians look good on the signing so far. Had Jason Donald not gotten hurt in spring training, this guy wouldn’t even have a job. Now that he has it, he looks like he wants to stay over there. The Indians third base defense was atrocious last season. Even while Jhonny Peralta was there, the way the Indians played over at third last year should have been a felony public indecency charge. Hannahan has changed all that. Diving left, diving right, he’s looked good. Heck, the fact that he is making the routine plays is reason enough for people to stop hiding under their brown paper bags every time a ball is hit to third.
There’s a little icing on this cake too. Hannahan hit the Indians first home run of the season, which sparked the Indians comeback that came up short on opening day. He also had three RBI’s over the first two games. If anything, he is certainly making the Indians have to think twice about who plays third base when Jason Donald is healthy.
Justin Masterson: I, more than anyone is relieved by being able to add Masterson to this list. Besides Santana’s exception opening weekend, the Indians needed Masterson to pitch like he did Sunday, every bit as a bad. Not only did he salvage one win in the series for the Tribe, he did it by being someone completely different than he was last season.
Masterson spent most of 2010 trying to strike everyone out, and that shows Sunday, when he induced 17 groundball outs and struck out zero batters. And, he looked dominant doing it.
Yes I said Justin Masterson, dominant, and zero strikeouts in the same sentence. In a weekend where the Indians starting pitching got KO’D worse than someone who took home a goodie bag from a Charlie Sheen party, the Indians needed someone to go out and soak up some innings. Masterson went above and beyond. The Indians need him to look like he did Sunday all year: focused on making hitters pound his sinker into the dirt, and letting their defensive upgrades (like Hannahan) and Orlando Cabrera make plays, like they did Sunday.
The Indians defense:
Besides the triple play on Sunday, the Indians defense the entire weekend was, well obviously good. Maybe even great. This could have been explained by the fact that the White Sox hit the ball way away from any fielders the first two games to give them a chance to make errors. But when the ball was hit on the ground Sunday thanks to “The Master”, the Indians made plays. A far cry from last season.
Well, they lost the first two games by a combined score of 23-13, so it certainly wasn’t all going to be good.
Shin-Soo Choo: With having to serve in the Korean Military off his mind thanks to leading his team to a medal for his country, he was exempt from those duties; it was supposed to take a load off his shoulders. That certainly wasn’t the case. Choo went 1-12, with just one single. He struck out seven times. This coming from a guy who hit two home runs in the Indians last spring training game in Goodyear. It looks ugly, heck it looks downright hairy, from the Indians offensive MVP last season. The only reason I’m not putting this in the ’ugly’ category, is because he will rebound from this. Choo has one of the best swings and approaches in baseball, so as Manny Acta said Sunday “We’re not worried, AT ALL.” the Indians aren’t worried. AT ALL. Neither am I. Especially since a guy who has a .538 OBP is hitting behind him, and pitchers start thinking about that.
Carlos Carrasco: 6 2/3 IP, 10 hits, 7 runs. And the L.
This certainly could have been ugly. The Indians, already shell shocked from Fausto Carmona’s horrific opening day start, needed to rebound. Well he only gave up one run in the first inning, which was an improvement from the two running inning on opening day, but it didn’t get any better.
He gave up four runs in the second inning, essentially putting the Indians in the same hole as Friday’s game. Granted the Indians scored three runs in the second inning, to make it 5-3, but that’s all they got all day.
Its bad, but it isn’t ugly. Because after the second inning, Carrasco pitched three smooth, scoreless innings before allowing two more between the sixth and seventh innings.
Matt LaPorta: 2-9, 9 LOB
The Indians really could have used a quick start by LaPorta. Just as much as the Indians need Masterson to perform because of the caliber of player they traded him for, LaPorta needs to do the same. This should be his make or break year, and the Indians are going to give him all season to break it. So far, it hasn’t been good, and if the Indians are to sniff playoff contention as far as the All-Star break, they will need right handed power, that only LaPorta might carry on this team.
The Ugly: If you have heart problems, a weak stomach or are reading this in a car. Please do not scroll down and/or pull over.
Fausto Carmona: 3 IP, (9 outs to be exact out of 21 batters faced), 11 hits, 10 runs (all earned), 2 home runs.
That’s not even good if it’s your first start of the spring. In fact in spring, there’s no way he was going to be allowed to work through the whole third inning, let alone start the fourth. This all coming from the Indians ‘best pitcher’. The only positive spin on this, he walked only one batter and struck out five in that short time. The one walk is a good sign, because control has been part of Carmona’s demons. However this year so far, it seems to be guys in black jerseys. The line he put together is scary enough to flat line any stat geek working in the Indians office.
Even worse news, Carmona next faces the Boston Red Sox. His numbers were 7-0 against the White Sox since 2007. His numbers against the Red Sox since 2006 are 2-3 in five starts and seven appearances, including two of the most horrific blown saves in Fenway Park history in 2006. What those numbers don’t include is Fausto’s numbers in the 2007 post season against the Red Sox.
Yeah, I won’t go there, you’ve probably lost your lunch by now, so on to the next horror story.
The Indians bullpen: Friday (Justin Germano mostly) and Saturday; 8 2/3 IP, 6 runs allowed, (3 BB on Saturday), 4 Inherited runners allowed to score.
Justin Germano was the main culprit of this line, as Frank Hermann and Vinnie Pestano cleaned up his mess on opening day. Chad Durbin pitching Saturday, allowing a run in 1 1/3 inning worked. Gemano allowed two of the inherited runs to score on Friday, not a good stat from the guy who won his job on the last day of spring, is out of options as Joe Smith comes off the DL. The Indians bullpen is supposed to be their biggest asset this season. Outside of Germano, it hasn’t been horrible, and until Sunday, it wasn’t good at all. Even Chris Perez walked two batters in the ninth inning in Sunday’s win, but that could have been rust. But whatever games the starters keep the starters hand the bullpen a lead in, had better be protected to get to Perez, or the Indians will be looking up at four teams this season.
Indians pitchers vs. Adam Dunn and Carlos Quentin
This should be a stat as so much a court docket for an assault charge.
10-21, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 12 RBI, 4 BB, a combined 2.757 OPS.
Oh did I mention the Indians have to face these guys 16 more times this season.
One of these two could win MVP, facing the Indians and Royals a combined 38 games this season.
Well now we can leave that all behind and look ahead, because in baseball, you have to have a short memory.
As if facing the White Sox to start the year wasn’t bad enough, the Indians face the Red Sox for three games, starting Tuesday. Here is what to expect.
The Indians aren’t the only team having their pitching staff beat up early on. The Red Sox took a shellacking of their own, losing three straight to the AL Champs, the Texas Rangers. They were outscored 28-11 this weekend, including a 12-5 blowout Saturday. Their team E.R.A is 9.75, which puts them dead last in pitching. Their top three starters, Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, and John Lackey went just 13.1 innings over the weekend, which of course taxed their bullpen, and they weren’t any better. Their best reliever, Daniel Bard, went just 2/3 of an inning and allowed four runs. New addition Dan Wheeler went 1 1/3 innings, and allowed two runs.
Yeah, so those who think the Indians pitching staff have been abused, the Red Sox probably have no sympathy for you.
However, the Red Sox have a dangerous lineup too. Carl Crawford was zero for the first two games, before being moved down in the lineup on Sunday. But Adrian Gonzales and David Ortiz had seven RBIs this weekend. The Indians pitching staff is certainly getting the ringer early on.
Tuesday; Josh Tomlin vs. Josh Beckett
Beckett had an injury filled spring, as well as the last year. Josh Tomlin threw more strikes than a labor union this spring and shut the Red Sox down in seven innings in his first career start last season.
Wednesday: Mitch Talbot vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Talbot had a rough spring, continuing his rough 2nd half of 2010. The Indians really need to see him gain some confidence in his first start. Matsuzaka also has a lot of flags surrounding him this year as well. However Matsuzaka is 4-1 in his career vs. the Tribe.
Thursday; Jon Lester (0-0. 8.44 ERA) vs. Fausto Carmona (0-1, 30.00)
Well Fausto is coming off the worst start of his career and is facing the team he has struggled the most against. Well I thought it could only get better, but that’s not certain. Lester is 3-1 against the Indians, but does have an ERA of 4.53 against the Indians. He is also coming off his worst start. It was just the second time in his career he didn’t record a strikeout.E-mail Justin at: email@example.com
POSTED 04/04/2011 20:58