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Indians shutout Reds 4-0 to win two straight

Despite collecting four hits, strong pitching leads Tribe to second victory

Indians shutout Reds 4-0 to win two straight
Ryan Raburn hit a key two-run homer and also made a nice defensive play in the outfield. (Photo: AP)
February 28, 2014
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Player of the Game: Zach McAllister (2 innings, 0 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB / 1 SO)

The Leadoff

A two-run homer by Ryan Raburn was essentially all Cleveland would need Friday afternoon, as they blanked the Cincinnati Reds, 4-0. 

Collecting just four hits on offense, pitching was the name of the game in the rubber match against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. Seven Tribe hurlers combined to shutout Cincy on three hits, walking three and striking out eight. Besides the long ball by Raburn, outfield prospect Carlos Moncrief added a RBI single in the bottom half of the sixth to put the game away late.

The Indians improve to 2-1 in Cactus League play as they will face their state rivals two more times this spring.

Raburn keeps Rockin'

And who said Raburn can’t hit right-handed pitching?

The 32-year-old slugger continues to thrive underneath the wide-open skies of spring training, something he has done his entire career. Raburn launched his homer of Cactus League play against Reds ace Homer Bailey in the second inning Friday. The outfielder hit .341 with five home runs and 12 RBI for the Tribe last spring.

With the team signing outfielder David Murphy, Raburn will platoon in right field and get the majority of his playing time against left-handed pitching.

Averaging a home run every 15.2 at-bats one season ago, Raburn put himself in prime company last year posting a .901 OPS. Only five A.L. players with at least 240 at-bats posted a higher OPS in 2013: Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Mike Trout, David Ortiz and Edwin Encarnacion.

Platoon or not, don't  be surprised at all if Raburn keeps Murphy on his toes for more playing time all summer long.

Pitching Goose Eggs

For the third consecutive game, Indians starters looked dialed in on the rubber. McAllister looked great in his two innings of work, starting the game retiring six of the seven batters he faced. With Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir bolting for greener paychecks, Cleveland needs Z-Mac to continue to eat up innings and be a durable starter he was last year.

Josh Tomlin followed McAllister and showed flashes of the Tomlin of 2011, when he went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 big league starts. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, the 29 year-old allowed just two hits in two innings also striking out two Reds hitters. If Tomlin can outduel his competition and win a rotation spot this spring, what a story it would be.

Also looking sharp in his spring debut was new Tribe closer John Axford. Signing a 1 year, $4.5 million contract this winter, Axford tossed a solid inning of scoreless relief notching two strikeouts. Saving a combined 81 games with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011-2012, it isn’t crazy to think “The Ax Man” could once again blossom into being one of the elite closers in baseball this season.

Relievers Scott Atchison, Cody Allen, Marc Rzepczynski and Scott Barnes followed up with quiet frames of their own, combining to give up just one hit and three strikeouts over the final four innings.

Other notables:

  • Hoping to make the big league club, non-roster invitee Jeff Francoeur went 0-for-3 Friday. The veteran outfielder has been held hitless so far through four at-bats this spring.
  • Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall collected his first hit on an opposite-field single in the sixth inning. With Carlos Santana looking like he could be a regular at the hot corner this year, the 25 year-old Chisenhall needs a huge spring to take back the job.
  • He won’t make the major league roster, but 22-year-old infielder Erik Gonzalez has quietly recorded a hit in each of the first three games.

Closing Time

It still very early in spring, but the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation is quickly starting to heat up. All four of the five candidates for the fifth starter job (Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Harang and Tomlin) haven’t missed a beat. For a team with very few available spots, this is the main event and competition worth tracking day-to-day.

As for the other starting candidate in camp, there’s no time table when former Blue Jays veteran Shaun Marcum will make his Indians spring debut. Signed to a minor league deal this offseason, Marcum will continue to throw a bullpen for at least the next week before seeing any game action.

Up next for Indians: The Tribe travels to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to take on division rival Chicago White Sox at 3:05 p.m. Harang is scheduled to get the start against ChiSox left-hander John Danks. Bauer is set to follow Harang, as both rotation candidates are expected to log two innings of work Saturday. Other pitchers scheduled to appear include relievers C.C. Lee, Preston Guilmet and lefty Josh Outman.

Indians manager Terry Francona said first baseman Nick Swisher will make his Cactus League debut this Sunday.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Hermie13
March 3, 2014 - 2:07 PM EST
Raburn has a history of putting up big spring numbers (at least my Tigers friends love telling me this)...

That said, am excited to see how he does and if he can hit RHP like he did last year. Should not start everyday but if Chiz is in AAA and Santana is the everyday 3B....Raburn DHing at times against righties may not be the worst move.
Hawk1228
March 1, 2014 - 1:22 PM EST
Matthew
You are most likely right If Carrasco or a guy like Marcum or Harang wins the 5th spot Tomlin makes sense in Columbus There he could pitch on a regular basis and be ready for a spot start or replace someone in rotation due to injury, similar to how they used Bauer and Carrasco last year. Columbus could look like Tomlin House Anderson Bauer and maybe Marcum
Walter
March 1, 2014 - 12:08 PM EST
I believe there is a chance that this bullpen could be better that than last years. What can prevent that from happening is if the SP does not hold up.

I like

Axford
Allen
Shaw
Scrabble
Outman
Pestano
Wood
Hagadone
Matthew
March 1, 2014 - 10:34 AM EST
Hawk,

I mostly agree, but I don't think the Carrasco/Tomlin situation is as cut and dried. If Tomlin wins the 5th starter spot, Carrasco will be in the bullpen. If Carrasco wins the 5th starter spot, Tomlin will go to Columbus to continue pitching every 5th day and be ready for a call up whenever an injury or doubleheader requires it, or if Carrasco falls apart.

So, assuming Carrasco wins the 5th starter spot, I think the Bullpen is:

Axford
Allen
Shaw
Scrabble
Outman
2 or 3 of Pestano, Hagadone, Lee, Wood, Aardsma, Atchinson, Ramirez
Hawk1228
March 1, 2014 - 9:59 AM EST
It appears that the following pitchers all have a spot in the bullpen Axford, Shaw, Allen, Rzepczynski, Outman, and the loser of the Carrasco /Tomlin spot in the starting rotation That would leave 2 spots open in the bullpen assuming we take 13 pitchers back to Cleveland. So unless an injury or one of those above mentioned pitchers have a HORRIBLE spring that leaves Francona with Hagadone, Pestano, Wood, Aardsma, Lee,JC Ramirez and a few more battling for the remaining two spots to decide upon. I really can’t see a healthy Pestano heading back to Columbus with his past success so it is very possible to have one open spot in the bullpen. I am so glad we have Tito as the on field talent evaluator. Such an upgrade over Wedge and Acta
Walter
March 1, 2014 - 12:14 AM EST
Looks like the 5 th starting spot is heating up, It will be interesting who will win that spot in next 3 to 4 weeks.Good to see Scott Barnes pitch good inning. Hopefully he can put his lousy year behind and become an option if there are any injuries to any LHP.

Once Lindor does go to Columbus would that give an opportunity for Gonzalez to play SS in Akron later in the year?

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