The Indians’ roster doesn’t have any huge, glittering stars. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn are big names, but they aren’t those almost-infallible superstars who often carry the weight of the team’s fortunes on their shoulders. The longer this season goes, the more I’m comfortable with this set-up. Instead of depending on one or two superstars to not have a bad game, I kind of like having a bunch of pretty darn talented guys who take turns having really good games.

Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana were the the heroes on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, with walk-off home runs. In today’s 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, it was Ryan Raburn’s turn to be the hero. Raburn hit not one, but two dingers with four RBI to clinch the sweep. It should be noted that the Indians have swept two four-game series with the White Sox this season. We’ve never done that. We’re 10-2 (.833) against Chicago this year. For comparison’s sake, from 2008-2012, the Indians were 38-52 (.422) against the White Sox. Yes, payback is a bitch, isn’t it?

Raburn was drafted in the 5th round of the 2001 amateur draft by the Detroit Tigers and made his major league debut as a September call-up in 2004. He bounced around the Tigers system, splitting his time between the Tigers and the AAA Toledo Mud Hens (the only season he didn’t spend time in the minors was 2011). He was released by the Tigers at the end of the 2012 season. A 31-year-old utility player might not seem attractive to some, but the increasingly prescient Indians picked him up for a song. He’s produced and produced for us. Raburn is arbitration eligible at the end of the 2013 season. Today wasn’t the first time he got to be the hero, and I doubt it’ll be the last.

The other big hero of the game was, of course, the inimitable Justin Masterson. At this point, writing about how well Masterson is pitching starts feeling repetitive–how many different ways can you say the guy was on his game? Today’s line: 6.2 innings, 1 earned run, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks. He’s now 13-7. Only Max Scherzer (15), Bartolo Colon (14), and Matt Moore (14) have more wins. (Adam Wainwright and Chris Tillman also have 13 wins.) He’s not in the top 20 for ERA, WHIP, or WAR, but by golly, he gets the job done. (Those 160 strikeouts, 5th in the majors, probably have something to do with it.)

The Indians have now won 8 in a row. They’ll spend the weekend in Miami playing the Marlins, then they’re back home next week with a four-game series against the Tigers. This is the last time this season the Tigers will be in town (we have one more three-game series in Detroit at the very end of August/beginning of September). If you’ve been thinking all summer that you really need to get to a game, that series might be a good place to start.

Roll Tribe.

 

8 Comments

  • Sean Porter says:

    1. I know it seems really cliche to say this right now – but Ryan Raburn is my favorite current Tribe player. I’ve always been drawn to the somewhat talented/max effort guys (probably because I never was much more than hustle guy when I played) and Raburn is the type of guy I naturally pull for. He just seems like one of those players who “get it” – that playing baseball for a living is one helluva way to make a buck. I sincerely hope he’s an Indian next year and beyond.

    2. With the exception of 1990, when a young Sean was 14 years old and became a closet White Sox fan for a year (last year at old Comiskey – one of the most underrated parks in MLB history – and their underdog status as a contender vs Jose Canseco’s A’s), I’ve had a long-burning hatred for the Pale Hose. Is it their insufferable announcer Ken Harrelson? Was it the years I had to endure Ozzie Guillen AND A.J. Pierzynski being part of the team at the same time? Their pathetic excuse for a replacement for great old Comiskey Park? The answer is yes, on all counts. Sweeping two four game series against them in the same year is priceless.

    3. Justin Masterson, 2013 edition, is why old school baseball guys wipe their proverbial backsides with new-age “WAR” and sabermetric stats. (I’m very conflicted regarding the new vs old-school arguments relating to stats and how to measure a players’ worth)

    A decade or so from now, some guy in a cubicle will throw Justin Masterson’s stats from this year into his IPHONE 74 and it will spit out to him that he had a mediocre year. Yet, how many times has he saved the Tribe’s worn-out bullpen? How many times has he been matched up against other team’s #1s and come out on top? He’s a horse who almost is guaranteed to give you seven innings, or more, with a good shot of pitching a masterful game.

    He’s the type of guy that the players behind him would run through a wall for.

    • shaun says:

      i never thought i would say this but i think rich hill deserves some props because jam master J was in a heap of trouble when hill came into the game…

    • Noah says:

      Masterson ranks as the 12th best pitcher in the AL this year by advanced stats. That’s about right. Very good but not absolutely elite. He probably has more talent than some listed ahead of him but the results have been choppy. There is room for improvement. Runs allowed each start:
      1, 0, 1, 2, 6, 0, 6, 2, 1, 4, 7, 1, 5, 0, 0, 3, 5, 7, 2, 4, 0, 0, 1. Two thirds of the time he averages just less than 1 run per start which is obviously phenomenal. The 8 starts though, he averages 5.5 runs per start. If you look at the best 2/3rds he looks like one of the best of the best. Look at the other third and he is crappy. If he can turn half of those crap starts into 2-3 runs, he becomes really, good. (And that would put his ERA at an elite 2.64)

      • Noah says:

        Other fun fact: Chris Sale’s ERA against everyone but the Tribe: 2.17. Versus the Tribe: 8.31. Cleveland may well have cost him the Cy Young.

  • Norm says:

    Sean,

    Masterson’s sabermetrics actually are quite good this year a 3.25 FIP and xFIP show he has been slightly unlucky this year. He is in the top 3 in range for pitchers and has actually finished #1 twice before in his career. Also a WAR of 2.6 currently is quite good.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Tribe had two four-game sweeps of the KC Royals back in 1960. I remember Hammy mentioning it but I had to google it to find the team and year.
    Being exiled up in MA has me really excited about this year. When the Indians hired Tito I said to my hubby “can he pull off the same thing his first year with the Tribe like he did his first with the Red Sux?”. In case you forgot, that was 2004. ;-)

    • medfest says:

      That would be the Kansas City Athletics in 1960,before they moved to Oakland.Royals were an expansion team in 1969.

      • Sean Porter says:

        That’s correct. Or as they were known more accurately back then:

        “The New York Yankees AAA team”