Whenever the season gets past the first 10 games, I feel as though it’s “really” begun. There’s something about the double-digits that takes the sheen of newness off the year. We’re 11 game into this season and the Indians are 6-5. Not bad, not great. The Tigers are still expected to win the American League Central, and it certainly looks like they will. They’re 9-4 (.692 win percentage) and have been dominating everybody except the Rangers (who are frighteningly strong). But wait, last season at this time (11 games in), we were 8-3 (.727 win percentage). We spent 96 days in first, and there were plenty of times when the division title seemed like a lock.
And then things fell apart. It’s too early to tell whether the Tigers will fall apart or whether we’ll improve. There have slowly been signs of improvement the past few games. The Indians have started hitting. Not just getting more hits but putting together strings of meaningful hits and, as Jack Hannahan demonstrated last night, getting hits when they matter. Without run support, it doesn’t matter how good the starting pitching is.
Which brings me to Josh Tomlin’s performance last night. Frankly, Tomlin has been one of my biggest worries as far as our pitching. Hitters always seem to get his number the second or third time through the order. During 2011, Tomlin had a 2.54 ERA (average) in innings 1-3, a 4.82 ERA (average) in innings 4-6, and an 11.37 ERA (average in innings 7-9. Last night, he pitched 8 solid innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 7 strikeouts, and no walks. Nice.
We open a three-game series in Oakland tonight, which means Indians fans won’t get a decent night’s sleep until the team is back in our time zone. They’re coming off a three-game sweep of the Angels, but have had some lineup issues. No word on whether former Indians Coco Crisp (STOOPID ranking 3.0) will be in the lineup–he’s recovering from the flu. Last night, Angels manager Bob Melvin used his 11th different lineup of the season. May their problems be our advantage.