Saturday, September 1, 2007

Eight straight with revamped lineup

Paul Byrd was the story tonight for the Tribe, without a doubt. He was about as good as a pitcher can be through the first eight innings of his four-hit, complete-game shutout, though he seemed to tire in the ninth.

But I want to focus on the Tribe's offense, which put a seven spot on the board tonight, a run or two at a time, and has come to life in the past week or so.

The Indians have run off eight straight wins since last Saturday, not coincidentally the day when the lineup was shuffled to put Asdrubal Cabrera in the two spot and Casey Blake at the bottom of the order.

Since the switch Cabrera has batted .281 (9-32) and Blake .400 (10-25).

Cabrera is a switch hitter who strikes out at a lower rate than Blake (1 in 7.3 at bats for Cabrera versus 1 in 5 for Blake) and - as we saw again tonight - can lay down a bunt or move a runner in other ways, He is much more suited for the two hole than is Blake.
(Cabrera's numbers hold up in the minor leagues as well, where he struck out only once in every eight at-bats at Akron and Buffalo this year - 50 Ks in 406 ABs).

The Tribe took an early 1-0 lead tonight because Cabrera laid down a sacrafice bunt with two on and no out in the third. In textbook fashion, Travis Hafner drove in the run with a ground ball to the middle of the diamond - in this case second base.

Had Blake come to the plate in Cabrera's spot he would not have been asked to bunt and - depending on what Blake would have done with that at bat - Hafner's grounder would likely have been the start of an inning ending double play.

Blake, as we said, is flourishing at the bottom of the linuep, having knocked in 7 runs since the switch one week ago. In fact, going back to last night's last at-bat, Casey is 3-for-3 in his last three trips with RISP. Not bad for a guy who's average with RISP was 160-something while hitting higher in the lineup.

Some guys just perform better when the pressure is reduced, as it certainly is batting ninth rather than second. This isn't a knock on Blake, it is just a fact. It is why some guys who are lights out in the set-up or middle-inning role fail miserably as the closer.

Coincidence or not - and I firmly believe it is not - the Tribe has won eight games since the switch.

Wedge seems to have found the button he'd been searching for for weeks when he moved Blake out of the two hole eight days ago.


moose said...

time to rant

bases loaded - contreras has walked 5 guys and our favorite player - the pie man swings on the first pitch and hits into an inning ending double - why is "you know who not be named" the line from harry potter is in the lineup

Anonymous said...

what the heck NIXON didnt matter today - it was one of thoes days

25 to go with a 4.5 game lead

Ron Vallo said...

I have to admit I wasn't happy to see Nixon in there either. The DP was annoying, as was his attempt to run on a ball that got about 8 inches away from the catcher, even if that catcher was Pierzinski.

That said, the team got its collective ass whooped today, which was probably hard to do since they all seemed to have had their heads firmly installed in the aforementioned orifice.

I think I'll put in the same kind of effort tonight as they did and make this my only comment for the evening. No full-blown post. What's to say besides they sucked and Wetbrook just didn't have it.

I'm assuming annonymous that you made your post sometime BEFORE the Tiger bullpen entered their game.

It truly is never over 'til it's over with them. It was Bazardo world for the Tiges today. I'll be (Todd) Jonesin' for more of the same when they play again Tuesday.

moose said...

yep my post was before the tigers imploded - nice to see.

i guess we won enough this week when we could have lost - so I would rather loose 8-0 than on a blown borowski save

moose said...

as terry pluto said in todays plain dealer- there was NO reason for Nixon to TROT out

does he have a contract for next year or is it a one year deal

can the tribe go for five against santana