Series Preview In Blog: Cleveland Indians

The Twins try to wash the taste of that Yankees series out of their mouth with a three game set in Cleveland this weekend. The Twins enter on a four game losing streak, 2.5 games back of the White Sox in the AL Central.


Sometimes I think the Twins feel a bit overmatched in Yankee stadium.
(from Daniel Dociu)

The Indians return to Cleveland after a 3-3 road trip to the west coast, they took 2 of 3 from Seattle and 1 of 3 from the Angels. It has been a long and frustrating year for the Tribe, but even with a 44-56 record and position at the bottom of the AL Central, some fans still can’t quite bring themselves to give up on the season. To give the impression that all Indians fans are holding out some wild hope of a second-half surge would be misleading, plenty of fans have turned their attention to more important things (keeping a close eye on the ketchup in the condiment race), or to dissecting what caused the 2007 division champs to fail so spectacularly (One theory: missing Hafner and Martinez didn’t help). However I found more than one post by people who hadn’t thrown in the towel just yet. The reason I point that out is this gem in the comments:

The Seven Stages of Indian Fandom

  1. Irrational Expectiations
  2. Discouragement
  3. Rationalization
  4. The Search for Meaning
  5. Adoration of the Unworthy
  6. Acceptance of Abject Failure
  7. Planning for the Future

Check it out for some shots directed at the Cleveland equivalent of the STrib commenter.

Livan v. Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee has been great this year, and is certainly in the running to be the second consecutive Cleveland pitcher to win the Cy Young award. The Twins are the only AL team to saddle Lee with a loss this season (the other blemish on his 13-2 record came against Cincinnati). He, along with Grady Sizemore, have been the bright spots for Indians fans this year. In addition to pitching very well, Lee has been a workhorse. He has only had one outing this season in which he threw less than 95 pitches.

Baker v. Fausto Carmona

Carmona comes off the DL in this one, making his first start since May 23. His return to form is certainly something Indians fans are hoping for and monitoring closely.

Blackburn v. Jeremy Sowers

Sowers has struggled this year. He picked up his first win of the season in his last time out, against the Mariners. In his 10 starts this year, he has averaged 5 innings pitched and has taken a lot of pitches to get through those innings (average of 91 pitches per start).

All of these pitchers will most likely be pitching to Kelly Shoppach who (in my personal opinion) is 0 for 2 on choosing a halfway decent song for his introductory music.

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Carry On

I read this one shortly after spending an awful long time in an airport, so I wasn’t really feeling the miracle of flight. So here’s my take on a particularly frustrating day at the airport:

Carry On (@ Scrawlers)

The muffled, artificially cheerful voice came on over the loudspeaker, startling the miniature dog across the aisle. A head poked out from a pink plush prison, alert and searching. Ears cocked, it listened attentively to the newest update.

I had read somewhere that some animals have no sense of the passage of time. To them, a flight delayed two hours would be no different from one that departed on time.

Among the rolled eyes and exhaled sighs, the tiny head retreated. We both settled in to wait until freedom was granted again.

The Oracle

I was struck by the description of the beggar’s face, so I went for a story revolving around striking features.

The Oracle (@ Scrawlers)

As I stood, stationary for the first time in days, all the miles that had chased me here finally ran me down and struck me with a physical force. I steeled myself, struggling to remain upright as I waited for the caretakers.

Legends were told about people with faces like these. In each retelling, the gray eyes would grow more piercing, thin lips would pull tighter as they regarded me. To faces like these, speech was unnecessary, my thoughts were already known and shared among them.

Their words should not have surprised me.

“Why have you come all this way?”

Time Traveller

On the eve of battle, both the general and the drummer boy know the next day will have enormous consequences for both of them. That was my inspiration here, although it’s pretty clear I also had Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder” in mind as well.

Time Traveller (@ Scrawlers)

I sit on the balcony watching the lightning on the horizon.

I had changed something. Even after all the training and all the dire warnings, I broke the rules. When I came out of the machine, everyone was flush with the excitement of success. I was ashamed to admit that I had let them down. Dire consequences had been promised for the slightest error, but two hours after I returned, the present remained unchanged to my eyes.

I sit on the balcony and wait for the rolls of thunder.

Boredom

Bradbury’s story had the protagonists’ comfortable lives stripped away from them in an instant. I have long had a story in my head about someone who chooses that kind of renunciation of their life, mostly just due to boredom. This is a small portion of that story:

Boredom (@ Scrawlers)

I have a habit of writing short stories.

But I never finish them. Rather, I write a couple of paragraphs that follow a loose outline, but never fully develop a character, or form a cohesive narrative. The stories I do finish often end with an abrupt plot switch, or the absolute opposite, in which the arc of the storyline dissipates into the disappointment of a not-quite ending. Somewhere between the violence and apathy of my writing, my life coasts along; five miles under the limit, on a straight highway, under a pleasantly overcast sky.

Back to Beloit

For my wife’s birthday, she decided she wanted to go to a ballgame with a couple of friends (How did I get so lucky?). So once again we drove up to Wisconsin to see the Snappers take on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Seattle Mariners A affiliate).

The Snappers roster this time around looks quite a bit different right now than it has all year. There were a few promotions during since the All-Star break and Beloit has been recently hit by more than their share of injuries. Joooooooooooooooe Benson (back), Deibinson Romero (leg), and Chris Parmelee (wrist, pictured below forlornly coaching first) are all out for the year.

Jair Fernandez is also out for some time with a cast on his right arm. That didn’t stop him from warming up the pitcher when the catcher (Greg Yersich) wasn’t ready to go. Of course, since the cast was on his throwing hand, warming up the pitcher became a three-man operation (pitcher, catcher, ball return guy). Then in the top of the ninth inning the third out came on a strikeout and the batter’s follow through caught Yersich on the back of the head with his bat and drew a fair amount of blood. Add to that Ozzie Lewis did not play Sunday and was placed on the DL on Monday, and clearly this team a little snakebit right now.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – 8, Beloit Snappers – 4
box score | play by play

As for the game itself, it was kind of a disappointment. I don’t know if the lineup had too many new guys, but the defense was not very good behind Michael Tarsi. Outfielders consistently threw to the wrong base allowing at least three runners to take an extra 90 feet, infielders checked runners for so long that they didn’t throw out the guy at first, and they made three errors. Tarsi didn’t help out much, he gave up some solid hits, was pretty wild all afternoon (1 walk but a lot of 3 ball counts), and one run scored on a wild pitch. It added up to a lot of pitches in 4.1 IP, probably around 80 to 90, and he left with the Snappers down 7-1.

The Snappers managed to keep the game interesting however, they drew 7 walks to add to their 7 hits and 1 HBP, so there were scads of baserunners. Unfortunately, the hits were all singles after Ben Revere’s 1st inning triple, so it was a lot of running around the bases, but not as much scoring as one would like to see with 15 baserunners.

Besides Revere’s triple, Mark Dolenc got on base 3 times (hit, walk, HBP), stole his 23rd base, and scored 2 runs. One of them was on this sac fly by Yersich, I thought I had the CF in frame, and if I had, I think this would have been the best pic I’ve taken at these games. He’s still back there, it just isn’t quite the perfect shot.

Estarlin De Los Santos got two singles and an RBI, otherwise not too many notes on the Beloit offense. Michael Allen did a great job in relief, posting 3.2 scoreless innings in his 3rd appearance with the Snappers. The weather was great and the company was top notch, so I’m not going to complain about anything so silly as the score, but this was a team that was missing a few key players, and it showed.

Other pics:

Michael Tarsi Pitching Pitching Fielding Fuming
Snappy D. Turtle Dancing
Michael Allen Pitching
Ben Revere Batting Batting Running
Estarlin De Los Santos Batting Batting Batting
Jeanfred Brito Batting Batting Batting
Mark Dolenc Running Running
Juan Richardson Batting Batting
Yangervis Solarte Batting Batting Batting Batting Running
Home Plate Umpire Sweating

Series Preview in Blog: Texas Rangers

Coming out of the break the Twins get the Rangers for three games at home. The Rangers are currently 50-46 in third place in the West (7.5 back of LA). That’s pretty good considering they started the year 7-16. Their season turned around from that horrific start after winning two of three against the Twins. Texas has been an even 25-25 on the road, while the Twins are 32-18 at home.

As the Rangers are close to contending and close to falling out of the race, there’s a lot of speculation on who they should drop, pick up, or keep. The Rangers have long been known as a team that relies on offense without any pitching. That hasn’t changed at all this year. A look at the top performers includes a lot of offense and no pitching whatsoever.

One of those top performers has no doubt been Milton Bradley, described in the previous link as a “sabermetric deity”. “Jake Taylor” Bradley was the starting DH for the AL All-Star team and wrote a short entry for the NY Times baseball blog about the pride he felt being chosen (even if it did interrupt his dominoes game with Eddie Guardado). It obviously meant a lot to him, he was quoted as saying, “If they had said, to make the team you have to shine the shoes, I would have shined the shoes.”

Probable Pitchers

Kevin Millwood v. Glen Perkins

Millwood has been described as “boring” and he certainly doesn’t have an overpowering pitch, but that entry has a link to this, which describes all his pitches in excruciating detail.

Eric Hurley v. Livan Hernandez

Now that’s a pitching matchup! Apparently this guy isn’t all that excited. Hurley got called up in June and made four starts before going on the DL with a strained hamstring after collecting his first win (and the congratulations that came with it). In his four starts this season, Hurley has amassed a 5.0 VORP which is the highest of any Texas starting pitcher.

Vicente Padilla v. Scott Baker

Padilla is also coming off the DL, he hasn’t pitched in two weeks. He had a 4.97 ERA with a 1.69 WHIP coming into his last start against the Twins. Of course he pitched a complete game shutout and has gone 8-3 since then (although his ERA is 4.60 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP indicate that might be a function of the 7.1 R/G the Texas offense has scored for him).