The NBA Finals are a major topic within the Indians clubhouse, but this blog entry has more to do with the Tribe’s recent winning ways and not the hoops. In case you are wondering most of the locker room is pulling for the Dallas Mavericks and the players who don’t care have been locked in because the games had provided high drama. Needless to say, but over the past few weeks the Indians clubhouse has been a much happier place. Remember the 1-8 start or the Indians losing to Durham on May 11th and falling to 11-23? Losing can cause problems with a fan base and within a clubhouse, but the Indianapolis Indians never let the losing bother them. Little did the Indians know that their season would begin to turn around on May 12th. That night the Tribe beat Durham behind 6 no-hit inning by LHP Justin Wilson. Winning is great, but it is always nice to win the last game of a road trip. It makes the long travel home a little easier and it gives you confidence as you head to your own park.
When the Indians got back to Indy for a May 13th showdown with Columbus, Manager Dean Treanor and I mapped out the next 30 games. Looking at the schedule (30 games…16 at home…and 16 vs. teams with winning records) it was entirely possible the Indians could go 20-10 and have a record of 31-33 with 80 games to play. At the time the important number to Dean was the 80 games remaining. “If the team is at or near .500, then you can make a charge. The season really picks up in June and more often than not teams change over their roster and then anything can happen.” Well, wouldn’t you know it…the Indianapolis Indians are right where Dean wants them to be.
Since May 12th the Indians 18-8 record is the best in the league and enter Wednesday nights game in Buffalo with a 29-31 record. In the past 26 games the pitching staff has a 3.55 ERA and as a team the Indians are batting .292. I’m not sure where those two numbers rank in the league, but they have to be near the top. Throw in the 5.3 runs per game and the Indians are playing their best baseball of the season.
“Outside of the winning, I really like the .292 average and 5 runs per game. I like our chances if we score 5 runs.” Dean likes the teams chances because of the bullpen. The ‘pen is 6-2 with 11 saves over the past 26 games while the starting pitchers have a 12-6 record. 1B Matt Hague kept stressing to me that the Indians would get better when the warm weather arrived. “Didn’t I tell you that we need the weather to warm up? It’s hard to play baseball in cold wet weather and for me personally the warmer weather has been helpful to my game.” Over the last 26 games Hague is batting .370 with a .435 on-base-percentage. “I’ve always played better in the summer months and I’m sure I’m not the only guy.”
The Indians still have some work to do before reaching .500, but I do have to give a lot of credit to Dean. He believed in his team and did foresee the chance for his club to win 20 of their next 30 games. Looks like the young Indians are rebounding for their poor start.
The Indians arrived in Buffalo Tuesday morning and once again I was reminded how young this team is. The questions are always the followng: Is this a good city? Where can I get something to eat? How do I get to the field? The last question is the one that always gets me. The Pittsburgh Pirates have completely overhauled the Indians roster and most of the current players have never played in this league. In 2010 the Indians played a four game series in Buffalo June 17-20. Only three players who are on the team were on the active roster last June; LHP Brian Burres, LHP Justin Thomas, and RHP Anthony Claggett. The other 21 players currently on the Indians roster were not with the team last year. (one note, Brian Friday was on the DL last year and he flew to Florida from Buffalo never seeing the field.)
Now check this out…ant to talk about turning over an organization? Here is the Indians line-up from June 17, 2010 vs. Buffalo and where they are now:
Kevin Melillo LF (Triple-A Angels)
Brandon Moss RF (Triple-A Phillies)
Jim Negrych 2B (Double-A Marlins)
Erik Kratz C (Triple-A Phillies)
Jeff Clement 1B (DL from knee surgery)
Jonathan Van Every CF (St. Paul Saints)
Doug Bernier 3B (Triple-A Yankees)
Argenis Diaz SS (Triple-A Tigers)
Hayden Penn P (playing in Japan)
Every single player who was in the starting line-up for game one of last years series has moved on to another organization or country. Back to today, every player who was in the final box score from Tuesday’s win at Buffalo played at Coco-Cola field for the first time in their career. Hitting coach Jeff Branson was stunned at the difference. “That was quite a line-up last year. A ton of experience and some pretty good power. Hard to believe so many new bodies have come through the organization, but it’s not a bad thing.”
Only 3B Andy Marte (played for Buffalo), C Wyatt Toregas (while with Columbus), and 2B Shelby Ford (2009 with the Indians) are the only offensive players who have played in Buffalo.
NEWS AND NOTES:
OF Alex Presley returned to the Indians starting line-up Tuesday. He missed two games after getting hit by a pitch on his right elbow Saturday night. For the next few weeks he will wear a small elbow pad and remove the lower leg guard that he usually wears. “Two pads is too many for me. I don’t want to get to first base and look like a fool taking off two pads, so I’ll ditch the shin guard and wear only the elbow pad.” Presley has worn the lower leg guard since taking a foul ball off of his foot. “I’ve worn it for a while and it’s saved me a couple of times. It can hurt and sometimes cause injury when you foul a ball straight down. I’m a little nervous not wearing it, but again, only one pad at a time.”
SS/2B Chase d’Arnaud is back in action and picking up right where he left off. d’Arnaud went on the Indians disabled list May 23 with a groin injury. He was activated on June 2nd and since returning is 7-17 with 5 runs and 4 runs batted in. “Dean helped me out by playing me every other day. I didn’t realize how sore I was going to be after playing a full 9 inning game. I guess I didn’t know how much your body can change after sitting for 10 days. I really needed the rest, but now I feel good and can go everyday.” Like Hague, d’Arnaud has been on tear since May 12th batting .387 with a .423 on-base percentage.
Wednesday LHP Garrett Olson will make the start for the Indians. He is pitching for the first time since May 14th when he suffered an oblique strain that landed him on the DL. RHP Brad Lincoln was the scheduled starter, but he will have his turned skipped because of a minor neck strain. Not sure when or how it happened, but it does not appear to be serious, but it will prevent him from making his scheduled start.
Coca-Cola Field has added one of the most impressive HD video boards I have ever seen. It cost a pretty penny (2.7 million) and it was worth it. Here a photo I snapped from the press box.
I hope that gives you an idea of its size and at the time of the photo the MLB Network was interviewing San Diego Padres skipper Bud Black. I snapped the picture from my crummy phone and you can still see how crystal clear the video board is. Major props to the Bisons for the addition.
Hope you can tune into the radio broadcast on Sportsradio 1260 WNDE or the i heart radio app on your smart phone. Game time is set for 7:05 from Buffalo where the Indians have won 7 of the last 9 times.