It was hard for Cleveland fans not to wake up happy this morning. The Browns and Indians both had games, and both teams have reasons for optimism. The Browns, fresh with a new management regime and some solid new players, seem to have the look of a team that could be turning the corner. The Indians are a team that is chasing a playoff berth, and also chasing a series sweep against the Mets. Fans poured into downtown Cleveland today to catch the action, however, most chose the excitement of the season opener rather than head to Progressive Field. Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, both games yielded losses. Fortunately for Indians fans, the Tribe is still only 2 games back of Tampa Bay for the second wild card spot, and they have the easiest remaining schedule amongst those vying for that second spot.
Taking the hill for the Tribe was hard-throwing Danny Salazar. Working on a limited pitch count, he went only 4 innings, while striking out 8 and walking 2. From what I’ve seen so far, Salazar looks like the real deal. His fastball-changeup combination is stellar, and he’s a strikeout pitcher that this rotation needs long-term. Looking to the future, a rotation of Masterson, McAllister, Kluber, and Salazar is very solid. The fifth spot is still to be determined, depending on whether or not the front office resigns Kazmir, Ubaldo, or goes a different route. Regardless, this unit was one of great concern heading into the season, and now it is one of its strengths. The bullpen pitched well in relief of Salazar, up until Chris Perez entered the game. Perez came in to the game looking to retire the Mets in the 9th, and instead gave up a double to Eric Young Jr, which drove in the game-winning run.
Offensively, the Tribe batters were stifled by none other than Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yes, you read that sentence right. Matsuzaka, who was granted his release from the Indians and signed with the Mets, went 5.2 innings, giving up one earned run while striking out six. Most looked at this pitching matchup thinking the Tribe had the upper hand. Before today’s game, Dice-K had given up 15 earned runs in only 12.1 innings So to say he had been pitching effectively is a downright lie. It was not a pleasant sight to watch him pitch so well against our lineup. The only run the Indians could muster out was an RBI HBP from Asdrubal Cabrera in the 6th inning off of Vic Black.
Looking ahead, the Tribe will continue to battle it out with the Rays, Orioles, Yankees, and Royals for the second wild card spot. Like I previously noted, the Indians have a significantly easier schedule than the rest of those teams. If the Indians win the series they should, sprinkled in with a couple sweeps, we could potentially see Cleveland back in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Browns, the Indians seem to be the only Cleveland team with a shot at a playoff berth, especially after the showing they displayed today.