April 2009

4/22: Indians vs. Royals

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.


cle.gifINDIANS:
CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Trevor Crowe, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (1-2, 6.75).

 

 


kc.gifROYALS:
CF Coco Crisp, SS Mike Aviles, LF David DeJesus, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mark Teahen, DH Mike Jacobs, 2B Alberto Callaspo, C Miguel Olivo, RF Willie Bloomquist. RHP Brian Bannister (first start).

Sipp coming up; Jackson optioned

So much for that talk about staying the course with the relieves on hand. Eric Wedge announced after tonight’s 8-7 win that Tony Sipp is being promoted from Triple-A Columbus, with Zach Jackson getting optioned out.

Sipp might not slide right into the late-inning setup role, but with Rafael Perez (and everybody else) struggling in setup situations, Sipp will bring some new blood. Jackson was never viewed as a candidate to work late in games. He was the long man, and he posted a 5.79 ERA in two appearances.

I don’t think the Indians intended to promote Sipp (0-0, 3.86 ERA in seven innings at Columbus) so soon, but this battered bullpen forced their hand.

“We’re working to try to get everybody back on track,” Wedge said. “Tony is the guy for us right now. We’re not quite sure how we’re going to work him into the mix. A lot of it depends on how these other guys progress. We’re taking it day by day right now with the struggles we’ve had here.”

None but the brave

This is a night for the die-hards.

The Cavaliers have a playoff game going on next door, it’s bone-chillingly cold and there is a threat of rain. But as I type this, about 20 minutes before first pitch, there is a sea* of fans already in their seats, ready to take in some Tribe-Royals.

*The term “sea,” in this specific instance, equals roughly 85 people in hooded sweatshirts.

As for the rest of you, reading this from the comfort of home (or, perhaps, via BlackBerry at the Q), shame on you. Where’s your passion? Where’s your hunger? Where’s your desire to see the epic battle that is Laffey-Ponson II?

Well, at least you’re reading.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Rafael Perez and his 16.71 ERA are still here. Eric Wedge said the Indians will do some work with him on the side and back off using him in eighth-inning situations for the time being, but they respect what he’s done the last two years enough to give him time to straighten out up here, rather than in Triple-A Columbus.
  • Wedge doesn’t view Zach Jackson as a candidate to handle the late-inning, lefty setup role while Perez undergoes repair, and for good reason. Lefties have hit .339 off Jackson in his career. For right-handers, it’s a .283 mark.
  • Wedge isn’t as concerned about Jensen Lewis (8.10 ERA). He just thinks Lewis has missed his spots a few times.
  • But Wedge didn’t exactly support Lewis’ theory that his two losses in the Bronx are attributable to the hitter-friendly conditions at the new Yankee Stadium. “You’re still putting the ball in a position to where they can do some damage with it,” Wedge said.
  • Lewis, for the record, has served up four homers in 6 2/3 innings — more than any other reliever on the staff.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera is 11-for-his-last-24 (.458) with eight runs, two doubles, a grand slam and six RBIs over his last seven games after starting the season 2-for-15.
  • The Indians and Yankees combined to hit 20 homers over the four games in Yankee Stadium.
  • Tribe pitchers have allowed homers in 12 of 13 games and 23 total for the season. That’s the second-most allowed in the AL, behind the Orioles (25).
  • Here’s one way to lose. Columbus was on the wrong end of a 7-6 decision to Louisville yesterday at Huntington Park. The Clippers had the tying run on third with two out when shortstop Wilson Valdez struck out on a two-strike, foul bunt attempt.
  • David Dellucci began his rehab assignment and went 1-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI.
  • Kinston outfielder Matt Brown and left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz received the Carolina League player and pitcher of the week awards. Brown began the season with a .457 average and .537 on-base percentage, both of which led the league. De La Cruz was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and a league-leading 19 strikeouts. 
  • Tomorrow’s game marks the debut of the new Fill the House outreach program. Through the program, for every ticket sold to Wednesday home games, the Indians will donate $1 to a designated charity. For tomorrow’s game, that charity is the American Red Cross. The Red Cross was also given tickets to sell to the game, and the charity will keep $5 from each ticket sold.

~AC

4/21: Indians vs. Royals

Today’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WMMS 100.7 FM and STO.


cle.gifINDIANS:
CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Ben Francisco, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Aaron Laffey (0-0, 3.88).

 

 


kc.gifROYALS:
CF Coco Crisp, SS Mike Aviles, LF David DeJesus, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mark Teahen, DH Mike Jacobs, 2B Alberto Callaspo, C Miguel Olivo, RF Willie Bloomquist. RHP Sidney Ponson (0-1, 4.50).

It's not too late to infiltrate

It’s an off day. But you could say the Indians have been a little off all year.

Here are four stats that sum up the Tribe’s 2009 season, to this point:

65 2/3 - innings pitched by the starters, an average of less than 5 1/3 per game
44 1/3 - innings pitched by the relievers, an average of more than 3 1/3 per game
6.50 - relief ERA
1 - save situations for Kerry Wood

With numbers like that, it doesn’t matter that the Indians are leading the AL in runs scored per game. If the starters don’t start going deep into games and giving the relievers a fighting chance, the Indians won’t be going anywhere this year.

But it’s early enough for this troublesome trend to get sorted out, and perhaps Carl Pavano’s tremendous outing in the Bronx yesterday will prove to be a major step forward for him and his rotation mates.

In the meantime, general manager Mark Shapiro had a conference call with reporters today to discuss the 4-9 start, and here’s a sampling of his thoughts…

(On yesterday’s replay)
“There was a second feed from the YES Network that was very different from the STO feed. It certainly appeared the ball went over Crowe’s glove and into the stands. I can understand the umpire’s ruling. Most importantly, focusing on that play would be an excuse. We didn’t execute situationally, and our bullpen didn’t execute. That play was influential, but to use that would be an excuse, and that’s not how we play.”

(On possible roster moves)
“We’d consider any move that would make our team better. No one at Columbus has made themselves a clear, better alternative to the guys up here. We need to balance the importance of making us better and understanding there’s some urgency with also understanding the long schedule and respecting what players have done and giving them the opportunity to get on track.”

(On the burden the starters are placing on the ‘pen)
“There’s definitely a correlation between the two. The guys we feel can be dependable relievers for us have had to carry an unfair burden and had to rack up innings and pitches they wouldn’t normally have to rack up. That’s not the only reason we’ve struggled, but that’s been one component of it.”

(On slow April starts)
“It’s certainly something we’re aware of and don’t want. It’s something Eric’s taken a lot of time to try to look at and examine in the past. It’s not something we’re happy about and something we like. But we’ve been the best team in baseball the last four years in August and September.”

(On the longer spring and the adjustment to Arizona negatively impacting the Tribe’s training)
“That’s possible. But there are 13 other teams that train in Arizona, too. I’m not willing to accept that as a blanket excuse for what we’re going through. I think the bigger part of our problem is the first couple times through, our rotation only got six innings a couple times. That was putting a huge burden on our bullpen with no off days. That, along with some bad performances [in the 'pen], has snowballed.”

(On choosing a date to firmly assess the team)
“We’re not locked into any date to make a decision. We’re not going to be passive. We clearly understand the expectations. We’re not resistant to making moves, but we’ve got to feel confident those moves will make us a better team.”

(On the offense)
“We lead the American league in runs scored [per game]. I think we’ve walked too many guys as a pitching staff and given up too many home runs. We had a period where our offense put a little too much pressure on itself [because of the starters' struggles]. But anybody who’s watched us play of late can see this is a team capable of scoring a lot of runs this year. … Clearly [Victor Martinez] are back and having productive years. Everybody else has either contributed at times or contributed consistently since Spring Training. A lot of them haven’t hit their full strides yet.”

Instant karma's gonna get you

Crew chief Jerry Crawford will explain the umpire’s rationale behind ruling that Jorge Posada fly ball a two-run homer after today’s game.

My early guess is that the umpires will say Trevor Crowe’s glove cleared the plane of the outfield wall. If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter if a fan touches his glove, per this portion of Rule 3.16:

“No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk.”

Again, that’s just my guess. We’ll see what that umps have to say afterward. 

For what it’s worth, I think the play that really needs to be reviewed is Eric Wedge’s decision to yank Pavano after six strong innings and 89 pitches to bring in the struggling Perez.

UPDATE: The umpires offered no comment on the play. Wedge said he was told by Crawford that the ball hit the fan first, beyond the fence. The replays are sketchy and do little to clear this up, either way.

It's a mad dog's promenade

Much fuss — and rightly so — has been made over the $2,625 seats directly behind home plate at the new Yankee Stadium.

But I feel the need to point out the $14 price of the bleacher seats. It’s an important, affordable aspect to this new park, because it ensures the bleachers will continue to serve as the home base and breeding ground for the Bronx’s most impressively obnoxious creatures.

untitled.JPGThe first time I ever visited the old stadium, my dad and I scalped a pair in the bleachers and were treated to what I can only imagine is a typical storyline. Some guy had the gall to show up in a Red Sox hat and was booed mercilessly. When he got up to go to the bathroom midgame, dozens of people began chanting a nickname for him that can’t be printed here. And when he returned and doffed his cap to the crowd, he was immediately ejected by security.

I’m sure such scenes are playing out with regularity here at the new ballpark, and you can’t put a price on that.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Eric Wedge gave Ryan Garko his first-ever start in right field for a couple reasons. Most importantly, Garko entered today’s game 4-for-10 with two doubles in his career against A.J. Burnett. And the small territory in right (it’s only 314 feet down the line) is helpful to the slow-footed Garko.
  • More fodder from yesterday’s ridiculousness: The 14 runs in the second were the most runs ever scored in a second inning in any Major League game in history.
  • The Tribe’s 25 hits were the most since a 26-hit showing against the Twins on May 7, 1995. The big difference there is that the ’95 game involved 17 innings of play. The club record for hits in a nine-inning game is 29. That happened against St. Louis on Aug. 12, 1948.
  • The Indians are only the second visiting Yankees opponent to have two innings of nine runs or more in a single series. The other was the Tigers, who did it in 1907 at Hilltop Park in Washington Heights, where the Yankees played their home games from 1902 to 1912.
  • In a single day, the Tribe’s on-base percentage went from .365 to .384.
  • It will be interesting to see if what’s transpired here the last few days is a fluke or part of a trend in which Yankee Stadium emerges as a bandbox. The way the ball carries out to right is a joke. The dimensions here are exactly the same as the old place, but it’s possible the wider concourses are creating a jet stream effect.
  • This should help to illustrate how well the ball flew out of here in the first three games of the series. Consider that the 17 homers hit in those three games are by far the most homers hit in the first three games played at any stadium in Major League history. Second place goes to Cashman Field in Las Vegas (13 homers), where the A’s played their first six games in ’96.
  • For the first 80 years at old Yankee Stadium (1923-2002), there was no span of three games in which as many as 17 homers were hit. It did, however, happen four times from 2003-08.
  • Maybe the air-conditioning ducts in the third-base visitor’s dugout should be blamed?
  • Tuesday’s game against the Royals will air on WMMS 100.7 FM because of the WTAM conflict with the Cavaliers’ playoff schedule.

~AC

4/19: Indians at Yankees

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Yankee Stadium will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. Ryan Garko is getting his first career start in the outfield.


cle.gifINDIANS:
CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, RF Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Carl Pavano (0-2, 16.71).

 

 


nyy.gifYANKEES:
CF Brett Gardner, SS Derek Jeter, LF Johnny Damon, 1B Mark Teixeira, RF Nick Swisher, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Hideki Matsui, 3B Cody Ransom, C Jose Molina. RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 2.70).

About the big inning…

The Indians just put together a 14-run inning against the Yankees in the second inning of today’s game.

In Indians history, the club has notched only one other 14-run inning . That happened in the first inning of a June 18, 1950 game against the Philadelphia A’s.

The 14 runs and 13 hits allowed by Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett were the most ever allowed by Yankee pitching in a single inning.

The half-inning last 37 minutes.

The last time a team allowed 14 runs in an inning came on June 27, 2003, when the Red Sox put up 14 against the Marlins in Fenway. Carl Pavano, now with the Tribe, got lit up in that one.

UPDATE: The five highest-scoring innings in Tribe history are as follows:

14 runs on April 18, 2009, at Yankees, second inning
14 runs on June 18, 1950, vs. Philadelphia A’s, first inning
13 runs on July 7, 1923, vs. Red Sox, sixth inning
13 runs on April 10, 1977, at Red Sox, eighth inning
12 runs on Sept. 10, 1999, at White Sox, sixth inning

They're gonna boogaloo down Broadway and come back home with the loot

Congrats go out to Shaun Clancy, owner and operator of Foley’s NY Pub and Restaurant in midtown Manhattan, for being profiled in the latest edition of Entrepreneur Magazine.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, of course. I believe all my readers are subscribers to Entrepreneur, right? But it’s impressive to see Shaun’s stock has risen from my meager attempt to praise Foley’s in a mailbag column two years ago to this grander state of pub pub.

And if you’re ever in New York, be sure to pay Shaun a visit, will ya?

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • In addition to the Adam Miller news, Lonnie Soloff offered a few other injury updates: David Dellucci (strained left calf) is en route to Columbus to begin a rehab assignment that can last up to 20 days. He’ll initially be limited to DH duties, but he’ll progress to outfield activities by the middle of the coming week.
  • Jake Westbrook (Tommy John elbow surgery) is a little more than 10 months post-op and is throwing all his pitches off the mound. When he reaches 11 months post-surgery (around May 12), he’ll begin getting into simulated game activities.
  • Scott Lewis (strained left forearm) is rehabbing in Cleveland and is scheduled to pick up a ball early this coming week.
  • Jhonny Peralta was back in the lineup today. His sore left forearm is not a major concern.
  • The Indians’ relief crew has a 1-2 record and 5.95 ERA in 11 games. The relievers have worked a total of 39 1/3 innings, or an average of nearly 3 2/3 per game. The Tribe’s greatest preseason concern has come to fruition. The starters aren’t going deep, and the bullpen is taxed.
  • Eric Wedge said the Indians don’t really have any other adjustments that can be made to the ‘pen at the moment. “We’ve already got eight guys now,” he said. “The bullpen starts with the starting pitching. We need to get deeper into the ballgame and be more efficient. That’s how you start to get into a routine with your bullpen and make sure these guys get enough rest.”
  • Having witnessed six solo shots to right field yesterday, Wedge offered a no-brainer take on new Yankee Stadium. “The ball is definitely carrying better than it did at the old park,” he said.
  • The Indians lead the AL in walks with 54. Six of the top 20 individual walk leaders in the AL are Indians.
  • It’s early, sure, but Victor Martinez’s 1.097 OPS ranks 14th in the AL.
  • C Carlos Santana is already on fire at Double-A Akron. He homered for the third time this season in Friday’s 3-1 win over Bowie and now leads the Eastern League with 12 RBIs. He has a .371 on-base percentage, with seven walks in eight games.
  • 1B Michael Aubrey is batting an International League-best .531 (17-for-32) at Triple-A Columbus.

~AC

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