May 30, 2004

Streaking Again

The Indians really had no business winning the game tonight. In fact, Manager Eric Wedge almost seemed to concede it before it started. His starting pitcher, Joe Dawley was making his first ever major league start, and was to be followed by Lou Pote, also making his Indians debut. Wedge had decided to rest star catcher Victor Martinez against the Athletics, who figured to be smarting from the 1-0 loss the previous night, and were starting tough young righthander Rich Harden.

The A's did come out smoking and had a 2-0 lead before Dawley had retired a man, (and before we even had our butts in our seats.) By the time Pote had given up three runs in his first inning of work, the good guys were down 6-2, and were still looking for their first hit off of Rich Harden.

Maybe the 26,000 fans had something to do with the comeback win. This was one of the better crowds I have been a part of in the last couple of years. But you have to credit the manager and the players for this one. They are relentless, if often overmatched. Tonight the bullpen, especially Riske and Jiminez, looked great. And even when we left the bases loaded in the 7th, still down a run, you could sense that the team had another rally in them, now that they were deep into the Oakland bullpen. And so it went.

In that 8th, Gerut and Hafner each delivered RBI hits off of tough lefty Arthur Rhodes, and Alex Escobar got it all going with a clutch triple. Martinez didn't get his day of rest after all, but made his presence felt with a pinch-hit, 2-out, RBI single to close to within one run in the 6th.

My preseason prediction that this team would hit better than people thought, but not pitch as well as people expected, is holding up pretty well so far. However, I figured we'd be able to avoid long losing streaks because of good starting pitching, and I was obviously wrong about that. And who could have predicted The Bullpen From Hell - Part II?

If the Indians are still only 5 or 6 games out of first place a month from now, it will be very interesting to see how G.M. Mark Shapiro reacts if and when the Yankees or another contender come knocking about Matt Lawton or Omar Vizquel, the two guys at the top of our lineup most responsible for our early-game run production and our veteran leadership in the clubhouse. Two months ago, this Tribe fan and most any other would have told you they would take a gross of baseballs for Matt Lawton and his $7 million per year contract. Now he looks like our best hitter, and a guy we ought to keep if we have any hope of making a run at the division this year (or next?).

Here's the Minor League Report for May 28th. We did get some good news this week about minor league 3rd base prospect Matt Whitney, who is considered by Indians brass to be the best natural hitting prospect the organization has had since Manny Ramirez. Whitney suffered a broken leg in a freak accident in the Spring of 2003. It was reported this week that he has fully recovered, and will be sent out this week to a minor league assignment to begin play for 2004.

Posted by dan at May 30, 2004 1:46 AM