Saturday, May 31, 2008

Finally a Tribe starter gets picked up by his mates

In pretty much every game of what has been a dreadful season for the Tribe so far, the blueprint has been the same.

One of the Tribe's starters pitches his butt off, only to be let down by an impotent offense or an inept bullpen - or both.

Tonight - for a change - an Indians starter was off, but was picked up by both the offense and the pen.

Cliff Lee, who has pitched like a Cy Young candidate until his last two outings, gave up 4 runs on 10 hits tonight over 6 innings. Keeping the Royals to just four runs under the circumstance was a moral victory of sorts for Lee.

But he also got a real victory as well, the tangible kind that shows up on the stat sheet and in the standings, and it had mostly to do with a bullpen that got the job done for three innings and an offense that popped three long balls - two by Grady Sizemore and one by Casey Blake.

The 8 hits by the Tribe overall weren't much to write home about, but the extra-base hit (in this case lots of extra bases) seems to be making a bit of a comeback for the Tribe in recent days.

The Tribe's outfield defense was outstanding tonight, particularly late in the game.

Ben Francisco made a behind-the-runner throw to nip David DeJesus at second base as he was rounding the bag on a single to right field. The out was made a second or so before Joey Gathright, who had been on second to start the play, was able to cross the plate - eliminating his would-be game-tying run.

In the seventh, Franklin Gutierrez, who had taken over in right field that inning, made a diving catch with two outs to save a run - again the would-be tying run.

In the ninth, Sizemore ended the ballgame with a run- and game-saving catch - slamming into the wall in left-center and preserving a save for Joe Borowski.

It's safe to say the Tribe hitters and bullpen owe the starters a lot more than one.

Let's hope this is the beginning of a long period of payback.


Travis Hafner went on the DL today, finally giving in to the shoulder problems that have plagued him since the middle of spring training.

We've said this before. It bears repeating.

This is now the second key player - Borowski being the first - that the Tribe allowed to play through injury for two months, to the detriment of the team and the player.

Let's hope the time off will strengthen the shoulder and clear the head of Travis Hafner and that he can come back in a couple of weeks and contribute the way he should.

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