Second Thoughts: Game #40-Indians 2, Marlins 0
|W: Gomez (3-2) L: Sanchez (2-2) S: Perez (13)
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since the infamous game seven that had the Florida Marlins stealing the World Series from the Cleveland Indians. Today, things are vastly different from way-back-then. The Marlins have a new stadium, a new name, and a completely different look. Long gone is the team that was purchased by Jeff Lurie simply to win the Series, only to be sold away a year later. Talk about a different era in Marlins baseball.
The Indians are a different sort as well. Long gone is a team that was dominant in the 90’s, and while 1997 wasn’t their best team, there was a certain magic to it. Gone is Wright and Mesa and Nagy and Leiter and Counsell and Renteria. But what isn’t gone are the memories from 15 years ago of sitting in a local watering hole until two in the morning, trying to figure out how the Indians didn’t win that Series.
I guess to say that I hold some grudges would be an understatement of mammoth proportions. No, the Miami Marlins don’t look a thing like that team from 15 years ago, but I still detest them with everything I have. It's a differentsort of hate for them than I have for, say, the New York Yankees, but it’s a hate nonetheless. Heading into Saturday’s game, after losing 3-2, I just wanted a win. There wasn’t any science behind it, I just wanted the good guys to beat the bad guys. No, it didn’t hurt that Ozzie Guillen is now their manager…not in the least.
- It’s pretty funny how different you can feel about a baseball player once they start hitting the baseball. It occurred to me as I was watching Casey Kotchman yesterday that if he hits the ball, he’s exactly what the Indians need at first base. No, I’m not even talking about long blast after long blast. The Indians can’t afford a guy like that anyways. What I’m talking about is a guy that can get on base, and more importantly, a guy that can keep the opposing team from getting on base. On Saturday, Kotchman showcased why he can be the “Jack Hannahan” on the first base side. He made a couple of plays in the first inning that the Indians hadn’t seen in years. The first was a diving stop to the right for the first out, and the second was a diving stop for the third and final out. He singlehandedly stopped two hits from getting through, and definitively stopped at least one run from scoring, if not two. On top of that, Kotchman is hitting the baseball. He’s got a three-game hit streak, and has hit in five of his last six. He’s gone 10-for-35 in his last ten games, driving in five runs, and is hitting .286 in May. If he can manage a .270-.290 average for the rest of the season, Kotchman is a steal. No, he’s not what everyone wants, but he is what this team needs defensively.
- Since I started with Kotchman, I may as well stay on the defensive front for a bit. Asdrubal Cabrera made a nice play there in the first to keep the ball in the infield, and while the hit would have been a single either way, it’s one of those things that help a pitcher like Jeanmar Gomez trust his stuff. I’ll get to that in a second, but when Jason Kipnis made another outstanding play in the fourth inning, I realized just how good this infield is. Sure, it’s the ole’ reverse pyramid of sorts, with Kipnis and Cabrera providing the power, while Hannahan and Kotchman provide the slap-hitting, but who cares. The Tribe pitchers need defensive stoppers, and that’s exactly what this team has.
- Jeanmar Gomez was in absolute command yesterday, in every stretch of the game. I really don’t know how long this kid will be effective, because I can’t decide if he’s going to be another one of those finesse pitchers in a long line of Indians finesse pitchers that look good for a bit, and then drop off when the rest of major league baseball figure them out. I’d like to tell you that I haven’t seen Jeremy Sowers look like this, or David Huff, or even Aaron Laffey, but I have. And lefty or righty, when a guy doesn’t throw 90+ in the majors, you have to continue to alter your game enough to keep players guessing. Yesterday, Gomez was doing just that. He was consistently around the strike zone, and the Marlins hitters had no clue. They couldn’t hold back on his pitches out of the zone, and the ones that were in the zone were baffling. The best part is that Gomez knew it. He owned the mound, and had an attitude to go with it. Gomez has been outstanding, and if you take away his eight-run start against the White Sox, he’s 3-1 with a 1.51 ERA. I know, you can’t just take away starts like that, but seriously…look at those numbers. Now imagine if Gomez were a #5 starter behind Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Roberto Hernandez, and imagine if those guys were just doing what they were supposed to be doing. Yeah, darn near giddy, I know. This staff has the makings of something special. Sure, Gomez won’t be this good for the entire season, but if he levels off, I still think you have a solid starter on your hands.
- I’d just like to say that it’s days like yesterday that I can give thanks to the Bullpen Mafia, or whatever moniker that you want to call them. I’ve never been a huge Joe Smith fan, but it’s really hard to go against what this guy does in the role that he’s been put in over the years. He was absolutely outstanding last year, and you could make a real case that he was the best arm in the pen…okay…not the best arm…but had the best stats. Smith always walks too many batters for my taste, and he just doesn’t have an out pitch, which will forever make him different than say, a Rafael Betancourt, but he does bring a change of pace to the lineup, and one in which has been extremely effective over the years. He came in during the seventh inning, and did what he is supposed to do, and got Gomez out of the inning. That’s his job. If a starter can’t get to the eighth inning, and the protected ground of Vinnie Pestano (or Nick Hagadone), bring in Smith, and now Hagadone. Because if you get to the eighth and ninth, at this stage, the game is over.
- Vinnie Pestano has gotten a ton of press as perhaps the best “out” pitcher in the Tribe pen, and it’s hard to argue that. As a matter of fact, I’m not going to argue that today, although my affinity for Nick Hagadone will begin to grow over the next year as his body of work starts providing most Tribe fans with a truer picture of that argument. Pestano has been dominant, and yesterday’s line showcased why you can forget about games like on May 14th, when he gave up the two runs. Since then, he’s been back to business, going two perfect innings, with two K’s. The only surprises were that there were only two K’s. He has a short memory, and really, he has everything that you want in a late-inning pitcher.
- How could I not talk about Chris Perez. First and foremost, he never looked better than he did in Saturday’s game on the field. Perez threw ten pitches, and nine of them were strikes. He struck out the side. It was sublime to a team that has dealt with guys like the post-2005 Jose Mesa, and Joe Borowski and Bob Wickman and even, yes, Chris Perez. He did what every Indians’ fan has been wanting since Mesa’s dominance in 2005, and that’s just mow people down. Let’s be honest here, while he’s had a great season, he certainly hasn’t been as good as he was yesterday. Okay, more truth…nor is anyone really, but for better or worse, that’s what Indians’ fans want, and likely just because it’s something Indians’ fans rarely have. I mean, Mesa was as dominant as a closer in baseball in 1995 when he went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA, saving 46 games on 49 hits, while walking 17, and striking out 58, and nobody remember that. They remember the guy in ’96 and ’97, who wasn’t near as dominant, and yeah, there’s that world series thing too. With that said, keep your mouth shut. Perez slammed Indians fans for booing him, and no offense Chris, open up your eyes. If you were booed here in Cleveland, what in the hell would it be like for you in, say, New York or Boston? Did the Josh Beckett thing not open up your eyes a bit? He shredded the fans for not coming to games, and why players don’t want to come to Cleveland. You just don’t get the history, do you. You probably don’t remember the sell outs and the players not staying when offered hundreds of millions of dollars. Why? Because you don’t know the history. You’re just another, in a long line of players, that don’t understand sports, and the role that fans play in it. Just go out and pitch Chris, and do well, because if you think you got booed before, well, just pitch well.
- There was an Edward Mujica sighting! His appearances in 2007 and 2008 nauseated me, and I have to tell you, seeing him pitching for Miami, and doing a pretty nice job, didn’t fix the nausea. Still not a fan. Hope you get in today Ed, and give up 12 runs.
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My family has had Browns and Indians season tickets for 35 years, and we've gone from four to two for a variety of reasons, and at any one point, someone in my family has said, "costs too much," "less interest," "team sucks," "team doesn't do anything," "don't have the time," "just had a kid," "just had another kid," "Have two kids," "Got braces," "pay cut," "gas went up," "needed a car," and so on and so forth. Combine that with bad teams, good teams, the history of the teams, leaving, going, winning, losing, sell-out streaks, disinterest, signings, not signing...I mean...the list goes on and on...to shrink it to wishy-washy fans...well...screw that...of course they are going to be wishy-washy. I don't live in Cleveland any more, but go to more Tribe games than most people who live there do. Why? I'm not rich, and have no expendable money, but the Indians have always been a part of my life, love it or hate it...same with the Browns...same with the Cavs, although I've never had season tickets, but have always gotten to 5-10 games a year from the days in Richfield to the Gund...to quicken...
Comparing what Kipnis and Pestano were doing vs. what Perez did is somewhat asinine. Of course tone plays a part in it. Nobody wants to hear a millionaire whine about getting booed. It's part of the freakin' game, right or wrong, regardless about how a guy plays. It's also a part of the game to have guys like Perez whine...and then get lambasted for it afterwards for being an idiot...
If that statement was in a bubble, and just about attendance, I'm not sure it would have carried as much weight. When you combine it with whining and moaning about finally throwing strikes so he wouldn't get booed, ripping the fans, then coming back and saying he doesn't want attention, and wants to bring a title to Cleveland...well...go into any elementary school and sit yourself down in a Kindergarten classroom.
Watch the kids, and see how much they don't want the attention too...
And as far as the newspapers using the fans to sell papers and get ratings, have you seen the numbers drop across the country with regards to newspaper sales? I'm not a plain dealer fan for the most part, but if they are feeding off the "fans" to sell papers, they are doing a horrible job...
He's right it is just how it is. People not going to the games means that the team will not deficit spend which means "big name free agents" will not be coming to Cleveland. That is on the fans. Not Dolan, the GM and especially not the players.
Just a few weeks ago Kipnis and Pestano were basically begging people to come to park and support this first place team. That's okay though because they were doing it nicely. When in actuality they are in the same camp as Perez. They are calling out the fans just as much as Perez did Saturday.
The only difference is fans are too stupid to realize it.
The one thing I have learned over the past two year especially is how wishy washy the fans are. There is a double standard and arrogance about them that the media feeds off of to sell papers and get ratings.
"We'll support a winner in this town" is the biggest joke ever.
We will actually support a winner when it is convenient to us. Which means:
1.You’re in first place for more than a week
2.The weather is nice
3.It’s a weekend
4.School is out