Thursday, April 30, 2009

An off day with Matt LaPorta's big league dreams

A lot has happened in the past two days since last I posted, and I'm not talking about the Swine Flu pandemic that is sweeping the nation.

Tops on my Tribe list is one Matt LaPorta, who should find himself in the Tribe line-up come Friday.  With Travis Hafner going on the DL, and the Indians calling up Rich Rundles as a temporary fix, who's going to take Hafner's place in the line-up?  Personally, I'm ready to see LaPorta make his debut.  Unfortunately, and don't throw up yet, David Dellucci is the likely candidate to make the big club.  Let's put it this way.  If Shapiro is going to be the same precautious GM that we've grown to, than Dellucci will get the call.  If he's going to start taking chances with these prospects he's gotten for his big name trades, we'll find out later today, or early tomorrow.  Okay...go ahead an throw up, I think we know where this is going.  Here's the rest of the Tribe's off-day news, including some information on Hafner.

  • The Indians won one of the ugliest baseball games ever played, 9-8, appropriately on a walk-off error by the Red Sox.  Tony Sipp may have been the only player in the game unscathed by the bad pitching and defense that was paramount in this game.  He pitched to five batters in 1 1/3, striking out three.  Thusfar in 2009, Sipp has gone three innings, giving up no-hits, one walk while striking out six.  Here's a great piece on Tony Sipp from Anthony Castrovince.  Eventually hitters will start figuring him out, then we'll see how HE adjusts.

  • The Indians lost a game that they should have won to the Red Sox, 6-5.  Fausto Carmona looked like his old self until the seventh inning reared its ugly head.  Still, Carmona was about as unhittable as he's been since 2007, at one point retiring 12 hitters in a row.  He would ultimately give up two runs with two outs in the seventh, and get bounced from the game, but he continues to improve.  If he stays healthy, I have to believe Carmona is back.  Mark DeRosa bobbled an easy double-play ball that would have ended the eighth inning, and Boston ended up tying the game, then winning it in the tenth.  You win some, you lose a lot more.

  • Travis Hafner went on the DL with a sore shoulder after playing in only 17 of their first 22 games.  There were some moments there when Hafner looked like his old self, but you have to belief this is chronic.  Of course, this could be part of the recovery.  Play four or five days a week, rest, sore shoulder, DL, so on and so forth.  More likely however, the days of Hafner even having a glimmer of his old self may be gone.  We already knew that though, didn't we.

  • Adam Miller had surgery on his finger Tuesday.  It's the first of two surgerys.  The first was the flexor pulley system, followed in three months with the tendon.  When it's all said and done, his finger should bend normally.  Of course, at any point, he may need a third surgery to remove scar tissue.  If this happens, his career could be over.  Let's hope he's on the road back.

  • The Indians are finding a multitude of ways to lose.  Paul Cousineau of The Diatribe rolls out the carpet with a bit of homage to Clint Eastwood...

  • I'm also working on an alliance with Tony Lastoria, in which I will take a much, much smaller part in a partnership that will have me reporting on several Kinston Indians games this year.  I once had the dream of throwing up minor league reports up here, but realized early on that there wasn't anything I could put up that would be remotely close to what Tony does a Indians Prospects Insider.  There aren't many major league sites as good as his.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chopping the Wood in Cleveland

I missed most of the game tonight.  I missed Cliff Lee pitch eight shutout innings, giving up only five hits, and striking out five.  I missed Tim Wakefield throw a one-hitter, while walking four and striking out five of his own in seven shutout innings.

No, I turned on the game at the start of the ninth inning, with the score set at 0-0.

What I didn't miss was Kerry Wood walk Dustin Pedroia on a 3-2 pitch.  What I didn't miss was Kerry Wood give up a single to David Ortiz, putting two runners on with nobody out.  What I didn't miss was Jason Bay, once rumored to be prized by the Indians in a deal for Cliff Lee, park a three-run homer off of Wood to give the Red Sox the lead, and ultimately the victory.

Oh, Cleveland managed to get a rally going of their own in the ninth inning, with two lead-off singles by Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Garko.  After Jhonny Peralta struck out looking (gotta love the bat on the shoulder in the ninth), Mark DeRosa drove in Choo with a single of his own.  Yeah, the winning run actually came to the plate with only one out against Jonathan Papelbon.  That's where it ended, when Kelly Shoppach struck out, and Ben Francisco popped out to end the game.

If only my cable was out all night...

Wakefield has been awesome this year, lowering his ERA to 1.86 in the no decision.  In a normal game, I wouldn't be surprised that Wakefield has shut down the Indians early in the year, but the Indians slump didn't exactly help matters.  The fluttering knuckle ball proved to be too much for the Indians' bats.  Like I said, I'm not surprised.

Wedge ejection
Is it a coincidence that Eric Wedge was thrown out of the game the same day as he laid out his team to the media?  I still haven't seen why he was tossed, and there likely was a good reason, but I'm sure there was a statement in there somewhere.  There always is.  Wedge took his veterans to the shed for their lack of offense, and re-iterated that this is now a veteran club. I couldn't agree more.

On a personal note, it's really good to be back blogging about the Tribe.  I'm not here to take anything too seriously at this point in my life.  I love every nuance of every game, win or lose.  I was scrolling through my blogroll the other day, reading several different blogs, and there are a lot of good ones out there that are related to the Tribe.  I actually got an e-mail today from a new viewer asking why I promote other blogs, and I had to reply with the truth.  "I Love them all."  It's funny.  Over the years, I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Indians' blogging.  I've been part of all three, and proud of it.  That said, everyone's got something to say.  I watched Wood tonight get lit up throwing a 99 MPH fastball.  Some will say it's not a big deal.  Some will scream that it's the return of JoeBo.  Some will blame inactivity.  Some will blame back-to-back games.  Some will stop watching for a week.  Others won't be able to wait for game two.  There will be some data to support it all.  What's my point?  It's baseball, and it doesn't get better than this...

...other than a win...

...and a record over .500...

...and beating the Red Sox...


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sipp saves the day in Indians win over Twins

Have I mentioned how big a fan of Tony Sipp I am?  For those that were doubters before today, something tells me that the Tony Sipp bandwagon is going to get a bit bigger on Monday.

Tony Sipp relieved Jensen Lewis in the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded, and proceeded to save the day.  Aaron Laffey had started the game off with six solid innings of shutout baseball.  Up to the seventh, he had only given up three hits, and three walks, to go along with four strike outs.  It wasn't his best performance, but it certainly followed suit with his previous starts in 2009.  After getting the first out in the seventh, two singles and a walk loaded the bases and ended his day.  He was still up 4-0, but responsible for the runners. 

Jensen Lewis relieved, and continued his rubber-band act. promptly gave up a single scoring two of the three inherited runners.  He then made matters worse by walking the next batter to reload the bases, and end his day.  This seems to be typical Lewis.  One day, he's the guy who looked like a closer late last season.  The next day, he's Tom Mastny.

Enter Tony Sipp.

Sipp inherited a bases-loaded jam and was facing the daunting task of going up against arguably the Twins best hitter, Justin Morneau.  Yeah, I know, without Joe Mauer, there's really no arguing the point.  Sipp promptly struck out Morneau on four pitches, blowing a fastball by the Twins slugger on a 1-2 count. 

The next batter was Jason Kubel, who had two home runs yesterday for the Twins in their 7-1 victory over the Tribe.  Sipp used six pitches on Kubel before striking him out with a pitch that he had obviously taken something off of.  As Tony Lastoria, head honcho at Indians Prospect Insider and scribe to, has said in the past,

"He is still developing a changeup and has a good feel for it, and even
though he just started throwing it when he came into the organization
the Indians feel it may end up being his best pitch."
If that last pitch was a changeup, it appears as though Tony's comments are something straight from Kreskin.

I know it's early, and only Sipp's second appearance, but boy was it electrifying.  I would have to imagine that it's going to be the talk of the rags tomorrow.  If it's not, it should be.

Rafael Betancourt had his best outing of the young year, throwing an extremely efficient perfect eighth inning.    He needed 10 pitches, nine of which were strikes, to get through the inning.  Two of the outs were fly balls, but he still did the job he struggled mightily with last season.  Hopefully it's a pattern, and not the exception.

Kerry Wood got save #4 today.  I can't say that it was a calm ninth inning though.  He allowed the first two runners on, before a double play and strike out ended the inning, and the game.  It's funny how a 97 MPH fastball can calm your nerves with two men on and the winning run at the plate, in the ninth inning.  Let's just say that it's better than an 85 MPH fastball, like we've seen in the past.

Here's a quick thought:  If none of our starters can ever get through the seventh inning, how many relievers are we going to burn through before the end of the season?  Just something to think about, because we are closing in on May with what, two starts through the seventh, and one that took 120-ish pitches by Cliff Lee?  I read somewhere that Carl Pavano is doing just what he's supposed to be doing.  Well, if we needed a guy to go five-six inning a game, why didn't we just re-sign Paul Byrd?  It's beyond me why we don't just give in and give the ball to guys like David Huff.  He's ready...

The Indians avoid a sweep, and lose another series.  When is May anyways...

Back to the Cavaliers, who are handling the Pistons 51-42 at the half.  Let's just get this game over with.  Lebron has 17, and Mo Williams has 16.  The Cavs D have held Gollum (Tayshaun Prince) , the Whiner (Rasheed Wallace) and the Phanton of the Opera (Rip Hamilton) to four points total.  That's playing some D.  Here's to the potential of a sweep, and on their court to boot.  Nothing would be sweeter.

Tomorrow, the Indians will become important again.  There are only two teams that put the Indians in the category of worthy to mention on any major sports network, and tomorrow they face off against one of them.  The Red Sox roll into town, with the Indians facing Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny and Tim Lester.  We roll out Cliff Lee, Anthony Reyes and Fausto Carmona.

Yeah, I'll be closing my eyes and holding on as well. 

The Sunday Drive with the trading of Cliff Lee, the return of Jake Westbrook and the Cavs

Just in case you live under a rock, 'Trade Cliff Lee' rumors have begun circulating once again, thanks to an article by  This isn't anything new in the Indians community, since we have been talking about this very thing for the better part of the past two seasons.  Now, the perfect storm is in the air.

  1. The Indians are 6-12 so far this year, in a division that many had predicted them to win.  They may still, but you know what a record like 6-12 can do to a franchise frantic to win.  You either start shaking things up, or start shutting things down.

  2. Cliff Lee is struggling, leading many to say that he's far from a #1 starter.  He certainly will command #1 starter money when he becomes a free agent.  That's not until the end of next season, by the way.  That said, the "TCL" crew is saying that management doesn't want him at a hefty price, so sayanara.

  3.  There isn't much to talk about with this team, because they have seemed to disappear.  Not only are they losing, but they are horrifically boring to watch.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm okay with boring...when you're winning.
Just to lay this to rest, the Indians aren't getting set to trade Lee.  Now, if a team threw a package of players similar to the CC Sabathia deal at the Indians, then the rumor becomes reality.

Why dealing Cliff Lee has been on my mind for two years,
Would I deal Lee if I were Mark Shapiro?  Yeah, it's true
that I've been a supporter of dealing the lefty for the past two
seasons, including during and after his Cy Young award year.  That
said, dealing him now would be a major PR mistake for the Indians, if
the rumors proved to be true.  The Indians starters are absolutely
horrid thus far.  Fausto Carmona barely resembles his 2007-self, and
seems to fight with every pitch.  Anthony Reyes scares the hell out of
me.  I keep picturing Dave Dravecky, or that House episode that had the
pitcher who's arm literally flew off during a pitch.  I'm a fan of
Reyes, but it's a bit like a train wreck.  Carl Pavano is a waste of
money, even if he made the league minimum.  He may have a moment or two
where you think it's all going to be fine, then you open your eyes, and
realize he hasn't been good since the Red Sox were still fighting the
curse, and that year was really his only good year.  Aaron Laffey is
the lone bright spot, but I've never been on the Laffey bandwagon. 
That he's the only current starter that has my attention says a lot
about this rotation.

So dealing Lee leaves the Indians with what for starters?  Is Laffey
then the #1?  Is Fausto Carmona moved to #1?  Is that the smart move
with him hovering on either breaking down, or breaking away?  Would the
Indians get a #1 for Lee?  Why would a team do that, if they need a
starter?  In other words, dealing Lee right now is vastly different
than dealing Sabathia.

First off, there isn't a Lee behind Lee, as their was behind Sabathia. 
Second off, Lee is scheduled to make only $9 million next season.  It
would make more sense to ride it out a bit longer.  Of course, the only
negative is that Lee won't have the season he had last year, and will
certainly command less on the market next year, than this year.

Still, that's not a reason to give up on the season yet.

So, no, I wouldn't deal him, and I actually thought I was going to say yes when I pondered this post.

I'm actually beginning to think that Jake Westbrook is the cog that may make or break the Indians season.  According to Terry Pluto, Westbrook is planning on throwing his first simulated game on May 12th.  If all goes well, he'll follow that up with three or four minor league starts.

If Westbrook does come back, and can somehow manage to be even a close facsimile of the guy that we saw at the beginning of last season, then the starters could right themselves.  Lee would remain the #1, Westbrook would be the #2, Carmona would be #3, Laffey would be #4, and either Reyes or Huff would be #5.  Personally, I could care a less about the #'s, but am okay with five of those six guys.  The only problem is that this rotation really reminds me of the Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy-led rotations of the 90's, that had a bunch of solid, middle-of-the-order guys, but no take charge guy.  I hate things that are cyclical.

I'm still not ready to give Westbrook the green light in June though (as though I had a say in it).  In all seriousness, how many pitchers rush back from something like Tommy John, and blew out their arms, or had major setbacks.  Why come back in June, if you can be even more healthy in July.  We also all know that getting your velocity back after the TJ surgery can take nearly two years.  We'll see, but it does always worry me when I hear that a pitcher is ahead of schedule with this surgery.

Props have to go out to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I've heard some grumbling about how the Cavs haven't slammed the Pistons in games #2 and #3.  Trust me, they have.  This team is pretty special.  Will they win the title?  That's up to the basketball gods, not me.  I do like the attitude the team brings behind LeBron.  They are going to be tough to beat.  Make sure you check out Amar and his crew over at Cavalier Attitude for playoff coverage.  Back in the day, I used to write over there, and they really do a tremendous job covering the best team in the NBA.

95,722 showed up for tOSU's spring game today, breaking Nick Saban's record last season in his first springer for Alabama.  Terrelle Pryor threw two 40+ TD passes in the game.  Football...already? 

This weeks SoG award for Tribe blog of the week goes out to Tony Lastoria and his crew over at Indians Prospect InsiderFor those that aren't familiar with Tony's past work, I began following his work at The Cleveland Fan, writing a weekly column entitled 'Minor League Happenings."  He then took his work a step further by opening up a blog based soley on the Indians' Minor League system.  What I thought might be a site updated a couple of times a week, it turned out to be updated daily, an more often than not, multiple times.

TL's work isn't heresay either.  Nearly every post is 'from the source,' and nine times out of ten, dead on.  This isn't a site that begs, borrows and steals from other websites.  Tony is outsourcing the writing as well, and has acquired a solid staff of writers that continue to provide multiple daily postings.

Tony also puts out a yearly Top 100 Prospects book that you can purchase, and posts updating scouting reports on nearly every Tribe prospect worth a hill of beans.  It's not only the cream of the crop as far as minor league sites go for the Indians, but is likely one of the best, IF NOT THE best minor league site in the entire league.  Check it out for yourself, if you haven't already.

Have a fantastic final week of April, and don't forget to check the rearviewmirror for the Indians offense.  It's way back there with their defense...somewhere.

Oh, and is it me, or do you feel like trading down. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tribe woes continue with 7-1 loss to Twins

The Minnesota Twins dominated every part of the game against the Indians on Saturday night, as they beat the Tribe 7-1 in another offensive letdown.

So much for Carl Pavano turning some sort of post-Yankees corner.  He gave up 11 hits in five innings, and left the game having given up five runs.  It wasn't a horrid start.  Nine of the 11 hits were singles, and a few of them were of the light-variety that the 90's Tribe infield likely either would have made a play on, or would have made it more interesting.  Still, there was really nothing to the start.  He's a guy that's obviously supposed to swallow up innings.  Gee thanks Carl for those five innings you pitched.  Thanks a lot.

I'd like to say I have faith in the Tribe front office to bring up David Huff sometime soon, and cut their ties with this guy, but they won't.  I'm sure they'll do something even more idiotic, like bring back Scott Lewis, and send Aaron Laffey back down.  Hey, didn't Zach Jackson start at some point?  Oh yeah, he can't start or relieve anymore.  Maybe they can use him for batting practice, or perhaps he can play short.

Well, the offense has now been shut down by Brian Bannister, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey in three out of four nights.  Do I really need to say any more about that?  Sure, Bannister and Blackburn have a history of beating up the Indians, but should they?  Then you top it off with Kevin Slowey, and you really have to scratch your head.  Cleveland had nine hits, and struck out eight times.  Four of those nine hits came in the ninth inning, after the Indians were already down 7-0.  Seven of the total hits came from three players, Victor Martinez (3), Shin-Soo Choo (2) and Travis Hafner (2).  Slowey ended up going eight innings, giving up eight hits and only one run, while he struck out seven.  So, just to make sure we have it straight:  Yankees Stadium makes the Indians look like murderer's row.  Young, quality right-handed starters, who are struggling or have just been called up from triple A make the Indians look like they swing a feather.  Nice...

Rafael Perez made an appearance tonight after his disastrous start, and only gave up a hit in an inning of shutout ball.  Sure, he was down 5-0 when he came into the game, but it's also much better than giving up four or five more runs.  Joe Smith threw two innings of shutout ball after Perez.  It's something...not much...but something.

That said, Masa Kobayashi gave up two gopher balls.  Two words...No Masa.  Hey, what happened to Zach Jackson...oh yeah...he's suspended in no-man's land.

The Indians best starter is on the hill tomorrow night, when Aaron Laffey makes his third start (yeah, I said that with a straight face).  He's facing off against Glen Perkins.  Perkins is only a career 1-0 against the Indians, with a 4.76 ERA.  So, am I the only one that figures he's going to pitch like Roger Clemens on 

At least he's a lefty.

Good Luck Adam Miller

Adam Miller is a prodigious talent.  The 6'4" right-hander has tantalized Indians' fans since we all first found out about his blazing, 97 MPH fastball.  According to Head Tribe Trainer Lonnie Soloff, Miller will likely have season-ending surgery on the middle-finger that has plagued him over the past two seasons.  The biggest fear is that Miller's surgery to the finger on his throwing hand could be career-threatening.

Surgery on tendons in fingers often require a second and even third surgery to help remove scar tissue that develops.  On top of the oft-needed repeat operations, the initial procedure isn't a lock to return mobility to the finger that has kept him from returning to his top-prospect form.  These are a lot of questions that won't be answered for the next six months to a year...if ever.

The hope is that Miller's surgery is a success for his long-term health.  The best case scenario is that 12 months from now, Miller will be wearing a baseball uniform, trying to regain the arm-strength he lost during rehab.  We here at Bringing Back Boudreau wish Adam the best in his rehabilitation.  Too often we see a kid with talent, and just see the numbers.  With Miller, it was #1 (prospect, starter, closer), 97 (MPH fastball) or 9.2 (K's per 9 innings).  Too often we're counting surgeries, or how many times a guy's been shut down, and forgetting that there's a 25-year-old kid behind all those digits.

Let's just hope that the most important digit, Miller's middle finger, responds to a difficult surgery and recovery. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

No offense or defense in Twins victory over Tribe

The lifeless Cleveland Indians are in a bit of trouble.  Throughout the early portion of the 2009 season, the Tribe starting pitching and bullpen have struggled out of the gate, putting the Indians in last place.  The light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be that the Tribe offense was one of the best in the league.

What if it isn't?

Cleveland's offense continued its three game slumber last night, as the Minnesota Twins took advantage of several mistakes to beat the Indians 5-1 at Progressive Field.

The Twins starter, Nick Blackburn, came into the game looking anything like a good starter this season.  He was 0-1 with a near 6.00 ERA, and was the picture of struggling.  Last night, Blackburn went seven sparkling innings, giving up only one run, while striking out four without walking a batter in getting the win.  Leave it to the Indians to make him look like a star, but it's not without precedence. 

Against the Tribe in 2008, Blackburn was 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA, 11 K's, and only three walks.  Like Brian Bannister before him, Blackburn appears to become some facsimile of a Cy Young award winner when he plays the Tribe.  Regardless, the Tribe hitters seem to be taking a break, and if it continues, the Indians are in serious trouble.

Fausto Carmona probably deserved much better last night.  Carmona went six full innings, giving up eight hits and two walks, while striking out seven.  Of course, he gave up all five runs, four of them earned, to give him a line that goes along with all of his other starts.  With that said, you could make a case that his pitches were working as well as they have this season, and for much of last. 

Carmona had the slider and changeup both working, and most importantly, they were on the plate.  Proof is in the pudding.  Carmona struck out seven batters, forced 10 groundouts, and allowed only one flyball out.  His pitches were low on the plate, and not easy to hit.  His one major mistake was to Justin Morneau, who ripped a fourth inning pitch for a home run.

Could this be a sign that Carmona is back?  I'll hold off judgment on that until the end of May, and hopefully after some wins.  Until then, I'll pocket this start as hopefully the beginning of the return of one of the better starters in baseball.

Minnesota played well yesterday, and likely would have one regardless of any one thing.  With that said, the Tribe defense, once again, didn't help matters out, did they.  Mark DeRosa prolonged the fourth inning with a throw into the outfield when trying to force out Joe Crede at second.  Crede ended up on third, and scored when Jose Morales singled in his next at bat.

Later in the game, Ryan Garko got tied up with a hard-hit, Justin Morneau ground ball.  A double play would have ended the inning, or a throw home would have kept the Twins from scoring.  Garko could do neither.

It's true that the Twins played a near-perfect game without these Indians-mistakes, but it would have been a much more interesting game had the Indians played more like, say, the Twins.

You know...mistake-free baseball...

Cleveland comes back today with Carl Pavano.  I gotta be honest with you, I'm not really sure what to expect from him anymore.  He has seemingly started to return to his pre-New York form.  Of course, could that have been based on the fact that he was playing against those same New York Yankees that were the bane of his existence?  We'll see today, when the big righty faces off against Kevin Slowey.  Slowey is 2-0, but has a less-than-stellar 5.89 ERA.  Even better news for the Indians is that he's only 1-2, with a 5.45 ERA career against the Indians.

Maybe Slowey's the slump-buster we need, because if this team doesn't have offense, it's going to be a long...long summer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Indians "Weaver" the Royals to take series

Earl Weaver believed the best way to win a baseball game was the three-run homer.  The Cleveland Indians and Grady Sizemore took that strategy to heart in beating the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Thursday night.  It was the Indians first series win of 2009.

Sizemore came to bat in the eighth inning after the Indians had struggled all night against Kansas City Starter Gil Meche.  The Indians started hitting Meche in the eighth, but it took an error by second baseman Alberto Callaspo to allow a run to score to finally chase Meche.  Enter Ron Mahay, who faced off against Sizemore in his first at bat.

Grady made him pay, and surely made Earl Weaver smile in the great baseball beyond.

Sizemore launched a slider into the right field stands, scoring Travis Hafner and Asdrubal Cabrera, to give the Indians the 5-3 victory.

Jensen Lewis and Kerry Wood rolled in and actually kept Royals from scoring. No, it's certainly not time to jump up and down and proclaim the Tribe bullpen fixed, but it's certainly a good sign.  With Tony Sipp ready to claim an important role, and Lewis starting to find his zone, and the Indians may have their set-up men for the foreseeable future.  Lewis got the win tonight, and  Wood was sizzling, striking out two in a perfect inning to claim his third save of the season.  If he stays healthy, there is no doubt that Wood is the guy this club has been looking for over the past several years.  If Betancourt can somehow manage to regain form, and Perez can be fixed, and the Indians have a solid five relievers.  Toss in Joe Smith and perhaps John Meloan at some point, and there could be a downright scary bullpen down the road.  Of course, part of me wonders if the term "scary" pertains to good...or bad.

I've read some articles proclaiming Reyes' start as a good one.  He went six innings, giving up four hits, two runs, four walks and five strikeouts.  While watching the game, I can't help to feel a bit frustrated.  It does appear that Reyes could be even better than those stats.  I still cringe watching him throw pitches.  He needs to learn to throw, and not try to overpower everyone.  If he could locate instead of trying to Nolan Ryan everyone, he could become a solid #3.  Until then, the Reyes Arm Implosion watch continues at the Diatribe.

The Indians welcome the Minnesota Twins into Cleveland for the weekend series.  Two struggling pitchers take the hill in game one, with Fausto Carmona facing off against Nick Blackburn.  I have to wonder to myself how long it's going to be for Carmona's 2007 sparkle to wear off.  Hopefully, he will regain it soon, but right now, he seems to be a liability on this staff.  This team could become dominant if Lee continues to roll out games like last night, and Carmona can regain form.  If he doesn't, this staff just isn't good enough to go deep in the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cliff Lee out-dueled by Indians-killer, Brian Bannister

Brian Bannister continued to own the Cleveland Indians as he led the Kansas City Royals to a 2-0 shutout victory over Cliff Lee and the Cleveland Indians.

Cliff Lee continued to look more like the Cy Young award winner from 2008, and did everything he could to win the game.  Lee leapfrogged Aaron Laffey's seven-inning performance last night by going eight innings of his own.  Lee's workhorse outing saw him throw 122 pitches, 85 of which were strikes.  He gave up nine hits, two runs, walked one, and struck out five in his best performance of 2009. 

Unfortunately for Lee, he faced off against Cy Bannister, who seems to have made a career out of pitching well against the Indians.  As mentioned yesterday, Bannister was 3-1 career against the Indians, with a paltry 1.91 ERA, including an even better 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in Cleveland.  Make that 3-0.  He actually improved upon that today in going six innings, giving up only four hits, two walks, and striking out one.  He really seems to have the Indians' number, and to think this kid was just called up the other day from AAA Omaha.  My guess is he's earned at least one more start.

Sons of Geronimo officially endorses Tony Sipp as its favorite player, and wasted opportunities, after the jump...

Tony Sipp made a sterling major league debut tonight, perhaps
mirroring what his future may hold by pitching a perfect ninth inning. 
His first batter was Mike Jacobs, who he promptly struck out. 
It was a positive outing for the young future star, and if I'm a
betting man, I'd say that it's the first step in his line to closer. 
Tony Sipp is the real deal.  You may have not heard it here first,
since I first started clamoring for this kid when I wrote over at Tribe
Report, but I'll certainly be the loudest.  This kid is going to be a
good one...count on it.

The Indians had a chance to win this game in the ninth.  A
walk by Jhonny Peralta, and a single by Shin-Soo Choo put runners on
first and second with one out.  Kelly Shoppach ripped a first-pitch to
left field in which David Dejesus caught while stumbling around like a
drunk.  Both runners would advance on a wild pitch, but Trevor Crowe
struck out looking to end the game.  Too bad for Lee, Sipp and the
Indians, who could have used this win as a stepping stone.

Gil Meche goes up against Anthony Reyes tomorrow.  The "Will Reyes blow out his arm" watch will continue.  

Tony Sipp nabs his first tour of duty with Indians

Relief pitcher Tony Sipp was called up by the Cleveland Indians after last night's game to help support a bullpen that has been nothing short of terrible so far in 2009.  To make room for Sipp, the Indians sent down fellow-lefty Zach Jackson.

Tony Sipp was on the fast-track to the Indians' bullpen in 2007.  Sipp was a mainstay in the top 10 Indians' prospect lists, and was on the shortlist of potential closers in the coming years.  Then came the Tommy John surgery after he was shut down for half of 2007.  He wouldn't find his way into a game until the middle of 2008.  Now he's healthy, and has finally reached his dream of playing with the Indians.

Sipp, a power-armed lefty, will likely take the place of fellow lefty Rafael Perez, while Eric Wedge and the Tribe coaching staff tries to right the ship on a season that has gone terribly wrong.  Wedge stated earlier in the week that Perez would stay with the big-league club, but wouldn't be put into pressure-packed situations.  In other words, Perez won't be seeing the light of day in close games in the later innings.

Enter Tony Sipp.

Sipp's best pitch is his slider, but also has an excellent fastball clocked in the lower-to-mid 90's, with plus movement.  Tony Lastoria, author of Indians Prospects Insider, the most knowledgeable site with regards to the Indians minor league system, thinks that Sipp's best pitch could turn out to be his developing change-up.  Mark this down now, he's going to be an elite pitcher at the back-end of this bullpen...perhaps as early as this year.

Sons of Geronimo is a big fan, and hopes that this is Sipp's opportunity to make a long overdue splash in the majors.

Zach Jackson's misfortune, after the jump...

Zach Jackson was sent down to make room for Sipp.  The move is an enigma to me.  Jackson seems to be another forgotten arm in the Tribe pen.  He's a lefty, like Sipp, but apparently not capable of pitching late in the game.  Sipp certainly is, so the Indians made the move to send the long-inning specialist to Buffalo to get more work.  Unfortunately for Jackson, I don't see him ever finding a long-term place in the Indians pitching staff because of Eric Wedge's lack of insight in using long-relievers.  Look for Jackson to either be released, part of a trade, or left to rot in Columbus.  Either way, he certainly deserved a bit more consideration.  Perhaps the better move was to send Perez down for a few weeks, then bring him back when he's straightened out for either Sipp, or for Jackson at that point.

At the end of the day, this move should bolster the back-end of the bullpen.  It should only be a matter of time before Jon Meloan makes his debut as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Laffey, the longball and the double play leads Tribe over Royals

Aaron Laffey provided the Indians with their best start of the season, as the Cleveland Indians held on to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-7 at Progressive Field.  The Indians moved to 5-9 on the season with the win.

Laffey's start wasn't all peaches and cream, although he did pitch well in only allowing one run through seven innings.  He did get some fielding help with five straight innings with a double play, including a seventh-inning dp with the bases loaded that allowed the Indians to keep their 6-1 lead.  Laffey was really in command of his sinker and slider, and trusted his pitches enough to induce nine ground ball outs, to go along with three K's.

Laffey was called up on April 15th after Scott Lewis was sent to the DL with a strained forearm, and has arguably become the most effective Tribe starter.  Laffey's ERA has dropped to 2.19, and opponants are only hitting a paltry .238 off the young lefty.  His start was the first by a Tribe starter to last until the end of the seventh inning.  Unfortunately, the bullpen did everything it could to blow the lead.  More on that in a minute...

Cleveland's bullpen nearly blows it, and the offense flexes, after the jump...

Rafael Perez didn't get sent down to the minors, since Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro insist that he's earned the right to figure things out in the majors.  Huh?  What?  When did they start this policy?  Isn't this the team that sends it's pitchers on a nightly bunji-jump, from AAA to the bigs?  Management has decided that Perez will be taken out of key eight-inning, lefty situations that he has excelled at since making the club two-years ago. 

Joe Smith faced three batters, and managed to give up two hits and a walk, and ended up giving up three runs, although only one scored with him on the mound.  Masa Kobayashi would relieve him, would face two batters, giving up two hits and a run.  Neither retired a batter.  Jensen Lewis would save the day.  He gave up a sac fly, which made the score 6-5 Cleveland, before forcing Miguel Olivo to, you guessed it, ground into another double play.  The six double plays tied a record for the Indians.

Kerry Wood would add to the bullpen issues, but I'll get to that in a the meantime...

The Indians offense continued it's onslaught tonight, led by the fifth home-runs by both Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez.  Sizemore's homer broke a 2-1 game wide open in the fourth inning.  Ben Francisco and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a couple of one-out singles, before Sizemore launched his Earl Weaver special over the wall in right field to give the Indians their 6-1 lead.

After the bullpen imploded, VMart came through in the eighth, blasting a two-run shot that gave the Indians an 8-5 cushion, that it would turn out to need.

This Indians' offense is potent, and patient, which can be deadly to opposing teams' pitching staff.  They have the penchant for big innings, and can really hit teams with a knockout quickly.  This should keep them in most games, even with a poor pitching staff.  The Indians will likely ride this offense, until the arms work themselves out.  If they don't, it could be a long season.

Kerry Wood did his best to impersonate Joe Borowski.  There's a major flaw with this line of thinking:  Wood throws a bit harder.  Wood's fastball's averaged 96 MPH, and his last pitch, a strike, was 97.  This isn't JoeBlo, even though Wood allowed a Dave DeJesus two-run jack, that left the Indians with only a one-lead.  Wood would settle down, and get a strike-out, his second, to end the inning.  Sure, it would have been nice to see him retire three guys on nine pitches, but he still looked essentially in command, and there really wasn't a time when I didn't think he was going to get that last guy out.  Wood recorded his second save.

Cleveland got another good start from a starting pitcher.  Perhaps this is a trend...I'll leave it at that.  The Indians are now 5-9 and 1-0 in this nine-game homestand.  Brian Bannister was recalled from AAA to face off against the Indians and Cliff Lee.  Hopefully Lee can return to full form against Bannister, who has been nothing but spectacular against the Indians.  Bannister has rolled out a 3-1 lifetime record against Cleveland, with a stellar 1.91 ERA against the team.  He's 2-0 against the Indians in Cleveland.  He's pitched well in AAA, having gone nine scoreless innings preceding his call-up.  It could be an interesting game.

The Cavaliers played like garbage in the second half of their game tonight, but still managed to beat the Pistons by eight points.  I suppose it has to be tough to get up against an opponent like the Pistons, who are, quite honestly, as done a team as you can be in the playoffs.  Watching the Pistons is almost painful.  I can't wait to brush this former great team aside, so we can have games worth watching.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I hate off days

I hate off days, but the Indians have to have them.  This past weekend series has the mind working a bit, and there may need to be some changes in the mix for a Tribe team that needs to be better than 4-9 at this stage of the game.  Let's hope that the Tribe is on an upswing, and not a ride to .500...

...or worse...

  • I have to ask, what's the bigger cliche?  Is it saying that the Jorge Posada home run was bogus because of the idiot in the stands interfering with Trevor Crowe's glove, or saying that the Indians shouldn't make excuses?  Personally, I'm sick and tired of taking the gutless approach and saying the call was garbage.  It obviously changed the momentum of the game.  Could the Indians have scored more runs after that?  Sure, but to ignore the fact that there was a momentum shift based on THE WRONG CALL is just the wrong take.
  • Could Rafael Perez look any more clueless on the mound than he has thus far this season?  He was the one guy early last year that seemed to have the stuff to keep him out of a prolonged slump.  Now, he either can't find the strike zone, or is throwing up gopher balls.  It may be time to send the kid down.
  • Speaking of clueless on the hill, what about Jensen Lewis.  Remember Lewis in the spring of last year?  Neither do I, because he was horrid, and was sent down to the minors.  When he returned, he was a different pitcher.  Perhaps he needs to visit Scott Radinsky in Columbus himself.  It seemed to work last year, maybe this year as well.  Of course, when does Lewis start to figure it out on his own?
  • So, we send down Perez and Lewis, what do we have waiting in the wings in Columbus?  My personal favorite is Tony Sipp.  His most recent outing was a beautiful two-inning affair that saw him give up only two hits, while striking out four.  I think he'll be dominant in the bigs, if they bring him up right.  Jon Meloan is also a guy that can control a game.  I'd love to see both make the move up, and hold the fort.  Ultimately, Meloan, Sipp, Lewis and Perez will be the anchor of our pen.  Let's get that going now.
  • Adam Miller is struggling again with his finger.  If you are surprised by that statement, than you are brand new to the planet earth.  Welcome.  There's talk amongst the organization that he may have career-threatening surgery to repair the tendon in his finger.  Isn't his career threatened now?  I hope things work out for the power pitcher, but as of now, he should be off our list of future superstars...although that could change down the line.
  • Seriously folks, if our starting pitching doesn't work out, what do we do?
  • How long with the Tribe brass give Eric Wedge to right the ship?  Personally, if the Indians remain below .500 before the break, will he make it after?  I'm not a big fan of changing a manager in the middle of the season, so we shall see.
  • Is it just a fact that Fausto Carmona won't ever find the strike zone consistently?  Is his slider and breaking stuff just too good?  It looks that way.  Hitters have learned to sit on his straight stuff, and let his breaking stuff go out of the strike zone.
  • The Indians offense is now entering a phase when they just get it.  They are truly waiting for their pitches, and making the opposing starter really work to get outs.  If the pitching can come together, the Indians should make a run at the Series.
I know...I at the Series seems a bit far-fetched...even for me.  But hey, it's still only April...right?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Umpires ensure series split for Yankees

You didn't really think that the Indians were going to win this series, did you?

With the Indians up 3-2 in the seventh inning, and Cody Ransom on first, Jorge Posada hit a towering drive to right field. Trevor Crowe, who had just entered the game to replace Ryan Garko, timed his jump perfectly only to have the ball deflect off a fan in the seats, bounch off the top of the wall, and end up in play.

The Umpires immediately called the play a home run, giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead they would never relinquish. Unfortunately, the call was all wrong.

Crew chief Jerry Crawford correctly stated that the fan that touched the ball was behind the ball. Unfortunately, what he missed was not only would have cancelled out the home run, but should have been an out. A second fan, whose glove was outstretched over the wall, impeded Crowe's glove on its way up to make the catch. Whether or not he would have is inconsequential. The key is that Crowe's glove was impeded in the field of play. At that moment, the batter is out...end of story.

The Umps blew the call, it's that simple.

Carl Pavano and Shin-Soo Choo, after the jump...

Carl Pavano pitched an outstanding game, giving up only one run in six full innings. He deserved better than to have the umps hand the Yankees the game. He pitched four perfect innings in his first five, gave up only four hits and a walk, and struck out four. He saved his best for last, striking out Nick Swisher for the third time with a changeup, and the bases loaded.

Unfortunately, Rafael Perez came into the game, and gave up a double to Robinson Cano, and a single to Matsui, to give up a run. Then came the ridunkulous call from the umpire on the Posada "Home Run." It would get worse.

Shin-Soo Choo lost a ball in the sun in the eighth inning that scored three runs, and put the game away. It was an odd play, and that's all I really want to say about that.

Cleveland comes away with a 2-2 split in the opening series at the New Yankee Stadium, including two embarrassing blow-outs in the opener, and game three that won't be forgotten quickly by each team.

It's just too bad that they were robbed of the third game.

Tomorrow is a day of rest, and Tuesday starts a nine-game homestand against the Royals, Twins and Red Sox. The Tribe is 4-9, and I'd hate to see an April homestand mean so much, but this one does...especially those games against the Royals and Twins. Serious ground could be made up...

...or lost...

The Sunday Drive with 22-4, hope for the starters, and THE DIATRIBE

There truly haven't been many better weekends to be a Tribe fan than this one. The Indians have walked into New York City and just blitzed the Yankees as they opened up their new, $1.5 billion dollar dalliance into the ridiculous. Who would have thought that the opening day blitz was just a welcome mat to the massacre that was produced yesterday, when the Indians poured a can of 22-runs on the hapless Yankees pitching staff. Sure, the Indians lost 6-5 to the Yankees in the midst of the two blowouts, but talk about maximum effort to beat a team. The Yankees were forced to hit five home runs to score those six runs.

Today's game is still just icing on the cake for me. On the hill is Carl Pavano, who has been vilified in New York City as the potential anti-christ. The boos that he has received this weekend have been nothing short of spectacular. Even better has been Pavano's handling of the situation. He seems to be taking a sardonic pleasure in it, as have his teammates, who have been razzing him relentlessly about it. My favorite comment from Pavano came the day after the opening festivity-Pavano-boo-fest, courtesy of writer, Anthony Castrovince's blog, Castro Turf:

Carl Pavano had a little press conference in the dugout this morning. He talked about that "ovation" he received yesterday and joked that he might need a riot squad with him to walk the streets of this city. The highlight came when Yankees GM Brian Cashman approached Pavano to say hello, and Pavano asked him, "Were you one of the ones booing me yesterday?" Cashman replied, "I was booing in the seventh inning."
I don't know what to expect from the former Yankees pitcher today, but if he manages to beat the Yankees in New York, talk about your icing. Either way, The 40-ish (37 and counting) runs that the Indians put up against the Yankees won't be forgotten any time soon.

More on the Yankees new $1.5 million band box, the starters, the offense, and The Diatribe, after the jump...

Raise your hand if you have spent at least an hour laughing about the joke of a stadium the Yankees are stuck with for the near future. It truly is a beautiful park, if you can afford to go to a game. Of course, if you gave any idiot $1.5 million dollars, that idiot could build a beautiful park. What's been amusing to me about the whole expenditure is how that figure is tossed around as though it's been earned. I can't count on all my appendages how many times I've heard, "The Yankees 85 years has earned them this stadium." I'm sorry, isn't it a baseball stadium?

What I found most amusing (discounting the Saturday beat-down) were all the empty seats in the lower decks. I suppose you could make a case on Friday, with it being an afternoon game, that people were working. Of course, the opening series for the Yankees new stadium SHOULD bring in the people, right? So either Yankees' fans weren't interested in the game (doubtful), or couldn't afford the tickets (likely). And what was the excuse when the same thing happened on Saturday? It's just another case of ownership not taking into account the real people that actually come to games. Gone are the days when a father and son can just walk into a game and find an affordable seat somewhere close to the action. What a joke.

On top of that, when you actually look at the field of play, the Yankees could have a very interesting season in Year 1. I know that both the Yankees and the Indians have outstanding offenses, but what I've witnessed, in April mind you, is pretty far beyond just the offenses. In the three games played there thusfar, there have been 17 home runs hit. Now fast forward to the summer, when balls carry better. Yeah, I know, the Yankees better give Dave Kingman a call. It will be interesting to see how pitchers like CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett handle this new stadium, and how the balls seem to carry better.

I'm not all that surprised that the starters are struggling, are you? Everything that I've read about the Indians since the end of last season predicted the ailments we're seeing now with the front five. Most predicted that Lee would be more of a battler this year, than the Cy Young ace we saw last season. Most predicted that Carmona was more of a battler than he was for that one brilliant season, now more than a year past. Most predicted that Pavano would likely pitch like a roller coaster ride. Most predicted that Anthony Reyes is a stubborn pitcher, who has a wind up that will ultimately shred his shoulder and his elbow. If he would ever just learn to pitch. Most predicted that David Huff would be the #5...oh wait...Scott Lewis...Aaron get my point.

Huff looks to be warming up a bit in AAA, and I'll make a wager that he shows up on this roster before June. I'm hoping that Laffey finally puts it all together. I'm hoping that Reyes will finally start to pitch, and stop trying to throw the ball through steel. I'm hoping that Jake Westbrook comes back healthy. I'm just hoping that the starters don't destroy an already struggling bullpen. So far, it hasn't been good for many pitchers, starters or relievers. Something has to give though, or this offense will be wasted.

Terry Pluto threw up a nice piece today, but I'm going to focus on what he said about Michael Brantley.

Michael Brantley was hitting .290, but minor-league director Ross
Atkins said Brantley "has hit the ball as hard as anyone" for the
Clippers. The team's leadoff man, Brantley also had five walks in 31
official plate appearances. "It's one quality at-bat after another for
Brantley," raved Atkins.
Matt LaPorta is a given in this lineup at some point over the next 12 months, but I truly think that Brantley is the guy that will make the Indians lineup go from being something above average, to something special. I keep thinking about this kid with a near .400 OBP at the top of the lineup, in front of Sizemore, Hafner, Choo, Martinez, Peralta, DeRosa, get my point. Add LaPorta or Crowe or whoever you want...but wow, what a difference a kid like Brantley could make.

Finally, every week I plan on talking up a Tribe blog that stands out above the rest. It's not going to be equal opportunity posting either, but blogs that actually do stand out to us here at Sons of Geronimo. So the first weekly SoG award for blog of the week goes out to Paul Cousineau over at The Diatribe. What I like the most about the blog is that PC is a fan, and that's what comes out in his posts. It's not about posting every day, or posting after every game. It's about posting when he has something to say about something that's happened (10-2 or 22-4), someone that's said something, or his normal "Lazy Sunday" posts which combine all of the above. I've never been a big SABR guy, but the diatribe throws up some SABR-metrics that aren't trying to smack you in the face.

Paul and Tony Lastoria from Indians Prospect Insider, also have a weekly Blog Talk Radio show every Thursday Night at 9:30, usually with multiple minor league guests, as well as Tribe Talk. If you haven't checked it out yet, you can do so RIGHT HERE, at Blog Talk Radio's The Cleveland Fan Live.

Here's to the Cleveland Cavaliers, for going up 1-0 on the New Jersey Nets yesterday. Aren't they supposed to beat the Wizards in the first round anyways, then have the rest of the NBA whine that the only reason why they won is because of injuries? Speaking of which, Kevin Garnett is out for the playoffs, and the Celtics lost in overtime to the Bulls and that Rose kid from Memphis. Boy, they aren't trying to make this kid the next big thing, are they? It's a long series Chicago, and I wouldn't get to used to winning.

With all that said, have a fantastic week of baseball everybody...

and don't forget to check your rearviewwindow for the Yankees' home opener. If you look close enough, you'll see it crying, a lot.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tribe "streak" ends with hanging fastball

The job of 'Cleveland Indians pitcher' has been a solitary experience so far in 2009. This point was emphasized today when Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter all hit solo home runs to give the New York Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Anthony Reyes proved to be the model of inefficiency. Reyes only gave up three runs on five hits, but three of those five hits were solo home runs to Teixera, Damon, Cabrera. Reyes also managed to walk three, while striking out only one. Reyes faced 23 batters yesterday, 18 of which he started with a ball. Reyes had to be pulled after the fifth inning after throwing 91 pitches, only 47 of which were strikes. An already overused bullpen again had to suffer a seemingly over matched group of starting pitchers.

Zach Jackson was brought in to start the sixth, and promptly gave up another solo shot, this time to Robinson Cano. Vinnie Chaulk was brought in in the seventh inning. He promptly walked Johnny Damon, who then scored when Chaulk threw a Mark Teixeira grounder wide of first base. Jensen Lewis ended up the goat, giving up the solo home run to Derek Jeter in the eighth inning, on a hanging fastball.

In the meantime, Cleveland's offense was more than giving to the Tribe starting pitchers what they needed to win. Mark DeRosa hit a solo shot of his own in the top of the first, to give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead. After the Yanks took a 2-1 lead on the back-to-back homers by Damon and Teixeira, Cleveland rebounded in the fourth after walks by Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo, and a single by Ben Francisco that tied the score at 2. Cleveland rebounded again in the fifth inning after the Cabrera homer, scoring three runs on three hits and a walk. A DeRosa singled scored Asdrubal Cabrera. VMart then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Grady Sizemore. After Hafner lined out, Ryan Garko doubled, scoring DeRosa, and giving the Indians a 5-3 lead.

Unfortunately, solo homers and errors cost the Indians the win.

Cleveland's offense again rebounded in the ninth, only to have a ridiculous strike call end the game. Tony Graffanino and Asdrubal Cabrera had back-to-back singles, and with two outs, Mark DeRosa stepped to the plate against Mariano Rivera. DeRosa worked the count to 3-2 on five cutters that were all inside. The sixth pitch was up and away, and out of the strike zone. That didn't stop a called third strike on a check swing. It wasn't a strike, but that's part of baseball I suppose.

Joba Chamberlain was merely average today. It seems as though his off the field troubles, as well as the rest of the league, has caught up with the former future star. Chamberlain gave up five runs, thanks to five walks and six hits. He lasted only 4 2/3 of an inning. Perhaps Chamberlain is best used as a reliever.

The starting pitching needs to get better, and fast. Fausto Carmona is on the hill today against Chien-Ming Wang. The good news for the Indians is that Wang is pitching like a Tribe starter, having gone 0-2 with a near 30 ERA. Carmona's ERA is sitting a a paltry 9. This game could get quite offensive.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cleveland slams Yankees in first game at new Yankee Stadium

Somehow, 3-7 doesn't seem so bad after today's game against the Evil Empire.

The Cleveland Indians faced off against the New York Yankees in a game much bigger than any game in April should be. The brand-spankin' new, $1.5 billion dollar Yankee Stadium opened up for business today, and the Tribe promptly handed the Yankees their first loss there, by rolling the Yankees with a 10-2 victory.

The pregame was full of the pomp and circumstance that you would expect at the opening of the house that Steinbrenner built. Kelly Clarkson, John Fogerty and Bernie Williams (what?) rang in the game with the Spar Spangled Banner, Centerfield and some acoustic garbage. Carl Pavano was greeted with boos that were previously saved for the Boston Red Sox and A-Rod. Yogi Berra threw out the first pitch. Babe Ruth's bat that hit the first home run in the original Yankee Stadium in 1923 was laid across home plate before the Yanks took their first at bats. Jerry Seinfeld made an appearance, as did Jay-Z, Paul Simon and Donald Trump, and I half expected the Yankees to roll out Ruth's casket at some point during the game. Of course, David Wells was there in the stands, so maybe that counts.

The last two AL Cy Young award winners managed to keep the game interesting through the first six innings, although it was hardly a stellar performance by either. Sabathia left with the game tied at 1-1 after 5 2/3 innings and 120+ pitches. Lee left after six full innings having stranded 10 runners, but received a nine-run seventh to give him his first win of the year.

The nine run seventh was anchored by Grady Sizemore's grand slam, a Victor Martinez double and homerun, and a Jhonny Peralta two-run double. Peralta, by the way, was batting clean-up for the first time this season, with Travis Hafner taking a day off.

As I flipped on ESPN after the game, I was pleased to see that they showed several clips from the post-game presser of current and former players, coaches, and anyone else they could get their hands on, to talk about how great the stadium is. Sabathia was even up there talking about how electric it was after his team lost. Make no mistakes, I can't wait to see a game there. By all accounts, it truly is something to behold. Funny though, how lost in all the shuffle was the fact that the Yankees actually lost the game.

As for the Tribe-side to the game, you could talk a lot about how it was a bunch of Indians taking their first cuts at CC Sabathia, and how sentimental it was for all the old friends to be facing off against each other for the first time. Sure, you could point to Martinez tipping his helmet to the hefty lefty before his first at bat against his best friend. Sure, you could make a big deal about the Cy Young sumo match between Lee and CC. At the end of the day, does any of that really matter?

The Indians beat the Yankees in game one of their freakin' $1.5 billion dollar stadium, and it doesn't get any better than that.