Second Thoughts Game #111: Indians 2, Marlins 0
Tribe takes the series in Miami with their MLB leading fifteenth shutout of the season
Player of the Game: Scott Kazmir (6 innings, 2 hits, 0 ER, 2 BB / 7 SO)
Another great pitching performance combined with a few timely hits was more than a good recipe for success Sunday, as the Tribe won the three-game series shutting out Miami, 2-0.
Two runs was all the Indians offense needed as the team blanked the last place Marlins to improve to 6-9 all-time against them.
Sunday’s marks Cleveland’s tenth victory over their last 11 ballgames, as they own a record of 15-5 over their last 20 games.
Kazmir delivers again
Southpaw Scott Kazmir (7-4, 3.89 ERA) was back at it again Sunday for the Tribe pitching another gem and giving his team another victory. Yielding just two hits over six innings of work, Kazmir walked two and struck out seven for his seventh victory and sixth quality start over his last nine outings.
The start lowers his ERA to a season-best 3.89, as he improves to 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last nine starts.
There’s no question Kazmir may be the front-runner for the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award by season’s end. Without a left-handed starter in the upper levels of the minor leagues, I could see the Indians try and extend the two-time All-Star beyond 2013 as he continues to look like Kazmir of old.
In 14 starts with Yan Gomes behind the plate, Kazmir improves to 6-1 with a 2.71 ERA.
Surrendering no runs on just four hits in the ballgame, the Tribe pitching staff recorded their league leading 15th shutout Sunday and sixth shutout over their last 30 games.
Run differential is huge in baseball and can kind of dictate whether or not a team is a playoff contender. Cleveland currently holds a solid 49 run differential while Detroit sits at 137. There is still some work to do as the 2007 Indians finished that year with a 107 run differential.
Say what you will about the team in Motown or the one in Beantown, neither first place club holds as many shutouts as Tribe Town, and that’s something the team itself should thrive off of as the season continues.
The Yanimal breaks free
What is there not to like about Indians catcher Yan Gomes?
Going 3-for-4 in the ballgame, Gomes is now hitting a season-high .310 with nine doubles, two triples, seven homers and 26 RBI through 155 at-bats this season.
I know he’s thriving in the role and playing time he is getting, but Gomes absolutely needs and deserves more playing time. He handles the pitching staff better and keeps raking at the plate in this just his first full season in the big leagues.
Sending reliever Esmil Rogers to Toronto in the offseason for Mike Aviles and Gomes, there’s no question Cleveland got an absolute steal from their Canadian friends. With Mark Reynolds in a contract year, I could easily see Gomes sliding to full-time catching duties next season and have Carlos Santana taking over as the everyday designated hitter.
The move not only saves money, but gives the Indians even more versatility as Gomes could also play first or third base in a pinch as well.
Smooth back on track
With a clutch RBI single in the eighth inning, left fielder Michael Brantley snapped out of a 0-for-14 skid at the plate to give the Tribe a big insurance run late.
Hitting in the five spot in the lineup, the Indians need Dr. Smooth to stay consistent in the batter’s box and keep thriving with runners in scoring position. On the year, Brantley is hitting .346 with RISP and .313 with runners on base.
While I do like him batting fifth, the left fielder has fared better hitting lower in the lineup where Brantley is hitting .284 on the season hitting seventh and just .231 hitting in the five spot. With not many options to choose from in the middle of the lineup, Brantley has still come through when the team has needed him the most in clutch situations.
Despite another win, Cleveland (62-49) trails the Detroit Tigers by just three games for first place in the A.L. Central. The victory also puts them a half game in front of the Texas Rangers for one of the two wild card spots.
The Indians were also 62-49 through 111 games of the memorable 2007 season.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will now start a huge four-game series with Detroit beginning Monday as Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.77 ERA) faces right-hander Anibal Sanchez (9-7, 2.59 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Sanchez is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in one start against the Indians this season, while Kluber is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against the Tigers in 2013.
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But. I think the Tribe will ease him into the full-time role for good reason.
First as much as I am disappointed that Santana hasn't performed better - you can't look past all the effort Carlos has put into the attempt and just flip him into DH without there being an unnecessary strain.
It's worth noting that he was a recent convert from 3B by the Dodgers when we stole him - and - everyone was gaga over the Buster Posey/Yad Molina offensive catcher benefit when it came to the position.
Nobody ever said Carlos was unfit to play third - it's just a testament to how having an outstanding OFFENSIVE STUD CATCHER trumped that same players offensive ability at a lesser valued position. (And we had a promising #1 pick - Chiz- rising in the minors for 3B)
Santana has done everything asked of him. So there is no reason to rush anything.
After all this is a special job in the game. Even though Carlo's ability to hold or gun down runners is sub-par, this guy has been a big part of an exciting story when developing young starters also.
It's just an incredible luxury to have. Besides, it doesn't hurt the Yanimal to get a chance to prove his offensive chops down low in the order either.
Tack on how valuable Aviles is - a player already known to Tito -and a plus given the fluidity of the ACab tenure - and this trade has the potential to be a vital game changer should Yan prove to be more like Molina and less like Shoppach.
Just one more exciting narrative in what is turning into a magical season.
The ratio is improving, but I really think Gomes needs to be catching 3 (McAllister, Kazmir, and Ubaldo) of the 5 starters each time through the rotation. I'm not one of the Santana bashers who think we need to trade him, I simply think Gomes is the better option because of his outstanding value on defense. If his offense craters with increased exposure, then you go back to Carlos and at least you gave it a shot.
They have to win three out of four from the Tigers just to pull within one game of the Motor City Kitties.
I know the tribe is in the wild card race right now but I think the road to the playoffs is still through winning the division.