Chris Perez entered the game today to a 3-run lead and yet another standing ovation. Two ground outs and a strikeout later, Perez was celebrating his major league leading 17th save, with a fist pump so energetic it almost knocked him to the ground. As it was pointed out on Twitter earlier this evening, Perez has more saves than the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs have wins (each with 16). So while the weekend series in Chicago may have seemed a bit bleak (and there are things that should be concerning Indians fans right now), there are many positives with this team. The Tribe put the lousy Chicago series behind them and beat a Royals team that took 2 of 3 from a first-place Baltimore Orioles squad this weekend.
In the first inning, it seemed like Josh Tomlin was back with a vengeance – he retired the Royals quickly on just 15 pitches, 10 of which were strikes. He got into trouble after he walked Jeff Francoeur and gave up a 2-run shot to Eric Hosmer (I honestly thought Hosmer may pass Francoeur on the base paths). Tomlin lasted for 5 innings and 81 strikes in the end; they obviously didn’t want to overtax him in his first game back off the DL. Even though Nick Adcock made quick work of the Indians’ offense in the first and second innings, he ran into trouble in the third after the just-recalled Lonnie Chisenhall blasted a home run into the right field visitor’s bullpen. The Tribe proceeded to bat around, as Chisenhall made the final out of the inning with a ground out to the pitcher. Overall, Chisenhall went 2 for 4 in his 2012 major league debut. They knocked Adcock out of the game before the end of the third, and Luis Mendoza came in to get the final two outs of the inning – Johnny Damon and Chisenhall.
Before the game, I was watching Nate Adcock warm in the Kansas City bullpen. The Indians fan standing next to me was attempting a very feeble form of heckling, and kept yelling lame insults at Adcock. At one point, the fan yelled something along the lines of, “That weak pitch is terrible…Carlos Santana is going to knock that out of the park.” I didn’t have the heart to tell the guy that Santana was on the DL. I later joked that his lame heckling (including the Santana quote) were Adcock’s downfall. It got inside his head and confused him, and he wasn’t able to get out of the third inning without surrendering 4 earned runs on 6 hits.
Even though that series this past weekend was Ugly with a capital U, one positive is that the Indians scored 7 runs on 6 hits on Saturday, and 6 runs on 12 hits on Sunday. Despite the fact that they were missing their big three – Travis Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Carlos Santana, they still managed to score runs. It used to be once you got below the fifth spot in the lineup, it turned into a wasteland until you got back to Shin-Soo Choo at the top of the order.
Today against the Royals, the Indians scored 8 runs on 14 hits, again without the help of their major stars. In fact, every single person in the lineup (including Aaron Cunnignham, who entered the game in the top of the 7th) had a hit today except for Johnny Damon. It sounds as if the Indians optimistically hope that Hafner, Cabrera, and Santana will all return at some point this week (none of them are officially on the DL). For the Indians to survive their absence, they need production from the fill-ins, and they need the 7-9 spots in the order to continue to hit once they return. It would also be nice if the pitching, particularly the starters, eat innings and keep their opponents from scoring 5+ runs per game.
It was nice to see an offensive outburst that ended in a victory today. When you score 6 or 7 runs, you hope it’s enough to win the game; unfortunately that was not necessarily the case this past weekend.
A few additional thoughts:
– With the Royals in town, it was time for one of my favorite activities – Jeff Francoeur touch watch. As I pointed out earlier this season, Francoeur continually touches himself in between pitches while standing in right field. Today did not disappoint; I think he touched himself more than usual (perhaps due to the heat?) He even kept removing his glove to do a little touching with the left hand…shaking things up a bit. While I may be mesmerized by his constantly-moving hands, Francoeur has also proved that he’s a pretty cool dude in general. Last year he threw a ball up into the right field stands in Oakland that was wrapped with a $100 bill and a note to buy “beer or bacon” with the money. This season when he was in Oakland, he had 20 pizzas delivered to the section. Not to disappoint the home crowd, Francoeur also threw a $100 bill into the stands earlier this month in Kansas City and directed fans to buy beer with it. Select Thursdays this summer have been declared “Frenchy Quarter” nights at Kauffman Stadium; you get a ticket and a “Frenchy Quarter” t-shirt. (Much like the Indians did with the “Choo Crew” a few years back). The Royals happen to play the Indians on one of those “Frenchy Quarter” nights later this summer…a road trip may be in order for that.
– Since I need an obligatory “damn, was it hot” type of comment, I will share this story with you. At one point today, my husband turned to me and goes, “do you have any peanuts left?” I did, but they were under my seat…I responded “yup.” And that was where the conversation ended, because I decided it was basically too hot and draining for me to bend over and find the peanuts. My husband must have felt the same way, because he never pushed the issue, or asked about the peanuts again.