To give you a bit of insight into the highly scientific way this blog is run, we set up a schedule to determine which writer will cover which game on a biweekly basis. This is done by basically instituting a free-for-all “whoever e-mails first gets first dibs” kind of situation. (I said it was highly scientific). A week and a half ago, I decided to pick Wednesday night’s game against the Phillies because it fit into my schedule and because I used to go to Phillies games when I lived in eastern Pennsylvania for six years. (It ends up being the co-owners’ prerogative to get first dibs.) At the end of last week, I realized that Cliff Lee was scheduled to pitch (barring any more of the copious amounts of rain-outs) and I thought “well that’s pretty neat…Cliff Lee comes back to Progressive Field. I made a good choice.” A few days ago, I heard that Trevor Bauer would be brought up from Columbus to start the game and I was even more intrigued. It was as if the past ace of the Indians was returning to face the (hopefully) future ace of the Tribe. While Bauer wasn’t perfect, he more than got the job done. Lee faltered and got absolutely no help from his offense. The result was the Indians’ fourth straight victory; the fourth game in a row that they’ve scored more than five runs. In those four games they have outscored their opponents (the Royals and the Phillies) 39-5.
Even though this wasn’t a game in my season ticket package, I just couldn’t miss a Bauer-Lee match-up; especially on a beautiful night like Wednesday. So I convinced Susan to join me and we went downtown to see this one in person. On Tuesday when the Indians scored 14 runs, I kept joking that because I was going the next night they’d manage to find a way to score negative five runs. Definitely not the case – even though Bauer threw a lot of balls (43 balls out of 93 pitches) and gave up six walks, he still struck out five and gave up just one hit through five innings. He earned his first win in an Indians uniform – hopefully there will be many more to come in his future.
I’ve been hearing so much about Bauer’s warm-up routine, that I was kind of excited to finally see it for myself. When he started his long toss in the outfield, he kept moving further and further toward the right field corner, as he threw to someone in the left field corner. Eventually he was launching the ball so far across the outfield that a cutoff man stepped in to help get the ball back to him. I honestly never thought that I would be so entertained just by watching a guy throw a ball really far, but it was pretty neat to see. I think he still may need some time to refine his pitches in the minors – he needs to cut down on the balls and the walks. If you give people free passes and then leave a pitch hanging over the plate, it could end up putting a quick two or three runs on the board. He almost got burned by one walk – when Chase Utley walked in the fourth inning, Ryan Howard slammed a ball to the wall in right field. Ryan Raburn made a fantastic catch up against the wall, showing that he’s hot with the glove as well as hot at the plate right now.
Speaking of the offense – it just kept rolling. Fourteen more hits tonight and six runs; Ryan Raburn had yet another big night as he went 4 for 5 with 2 RBI. In the past week, Raburn is hitting .429 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI. Remember last year, when we would have killed for any warm body that batted right-handed? It feels good to have a utility player that’s still better than most of the starters from last season. Not that I think Raburn will necessarily continue this pace for the entire season; last year it didn’t even seem like Aaron Cunningham, Shelley Duncan and company had that many good weeks. On the season Raburn is hitting .364/.407/.655 for a 1.061 OPS. Michael Brantley went 3 for 5, Drew Stubbs and Carlos Santana both went 2 for 4, and Asdrubal Cabrera had 2 RBI. They scored 4 earned runs off a former Cy Young winner tonight and they did it without their two marquis free agent signings of the offseason – Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Heck, they scored 8 earned runs off a former Cy Young winner on Tuesday without Bourn and Swisher. Can you imagine what this offense could be like once they return and get into the groove? (Particularly if they can get Jason Kipnis going as well)?
The Indians are red hot right now, and I really hope they’re able to maintain this performance for as long as possible. On a warm night that already felt a bit like summer, you had to hope that you were getting a glimpse at a bright future. The Indians’ young pitcher conquered their former ace, who looked vulnerable against his old team. I half expected Lee to return and punish the Indians (I haven’t forgotten Travis Hafner’s home run during the home opener), but for once the past didn’t return to haunt us.