The first half of this season of Cleveland Indians baseball has been surprising to say the least.  The Tribe has two All-Stars, 51 wins, and the team is only 1.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers for the division lead.  The rotation has taken shape, the offense has been consistent , and the bullpen…well the bullpen has been somewhat disappointing.  Regardless, the Indians have given Cleveland fans something to look forward to: a second half of baseball that should be fun to watch.

Heading into today’s game, the Tribe had won the first two games of this series against Kansas City, and were looking to get the sweep.  Taking the mound for the Tribe was Ubaldo Jimenez, a pitcher who has quieted his critics with an above average first half of the season.  The Big U didn’t have the best of outings, but still limited the damage to 4 earned runs over 4 innings.  On for the fifth inning was Indians newcomer Chen-Chang Lee, a Taiwanese prospect who has been labeled as a solid prospect in the past, and he gave up no runs over 1.1 innings.  Three more Tribe relievers came on to pitch scoreless innings before Chris Perez came on to earn the save.

For the offense, Asdrubal Cabrera led the team going 3-5 with 2 RBIs.  The Tribe scored early in the first and third inning, with Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Santana all getting RBIs.  As the Royals were clinging to a one-run lead, Cabrera stepped up to the plate to deliver his double to deep right center to bring in 2 more runs.  Coming from behind to win another game was very refreshing to see.  No one should have been surprised, however, as Cleveland is a whole new team this year when it comes to getting clutch RBI base hits.

Whether it’s the solid managing of Terry Francona or the veteran presence of guys like Jason Giambi, the Indians are a team that can be extremely dangerous.  Talking about the playoffs might have been somewhat outlandish before the season, but now that we’re at the halfway point, it is a strong possibility.  Everything depends on certain variables.  Can the roster stay injury free?  Can guys like Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez continue to pitch strong enough to keep the Tribe in games?  Will Chris Antonetti add a player to strengthen the rotation, bullpen, or offense?  All of these aspects will be answered at some point.  Let’s just hope they all are answered in a positive, successful way.

Looking ahead, be sure to check out the All-Star game, where Justin Masterson and Jason Kipnis will look to help the American League team take down the National League team.  Both players are guys that I think represent the Tribe extremely well, as both have developed into integral pieces of this team.

5 Comments

  • Sean Porter says:

    I hope the Tribe is in talks with extending Jason Kipnis. Seems to me that he’d be a prime candidate for one of those old-fashioned John Hart “sign the kid before he gets to arbitration” contracts.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I agree with Sean, and would add Michael Brantley and Justin Masterson to that list of keepers to at least offer long-term extensions to. Brantley’s recent power surge shows that he is still improving and hasn’t topped out yet. Jimenez has been better this year with a 4.50 ERA, but the lack of innings is a problem. I’m not sure the team will pick up his option for $10MM knowing he’s a 5-inning pitcher most of the time. It’s interesting that Mark Reynolds was not in the lineup for the last 2 games vs. KC. Was Terry just giving him time to regroup or have the Indians seen enough? It’s hard to believe a guy who can hit 14 HR and 42 RBI in the 1st quarter of the season could hit 1 HR and 5 RBI in the next quarter. Let’s hope Team Streak can put together a good 2nd half. It should be interesting.

  • Cale says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else get a big smile across their face when Tim Collins comes in for KC. From everything I hear, he seems to be a pretty good pitcher, but Cleveland seems to score off him every time he comes into the game.

    • Sean Porter says:

      You are absolutely right – and you can add James Shields to that list too. Both are solid to very good pitchers (I’d love to add either, especially Shields to the Tribe) but for whatever reason, we have both of their numbers.

  • Ben M. says:

    While I think Ubaldo is a great guy, he’s still not showing improvement. The only reason why he isn’t giving up many runs is because he never goes past 5 IP. That’s ridiculous for a starter. He can’t face the lineup a third time without imploding. You can’t put a four inning strain on the bullpen that many times down the stretch. He’s a 4-5 spot guy. He really needs to work on longevity to be an asset to the team.