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Pitching leads Tribe to eighth straight victory, defeat Cubs, 7-2

Carrasco, Kluber lead way to another dominant mound performance

Pitching leads Tribe to eighth straight victory, defeat Cubs, 7-2
Ryan Raburn (Photo: MLB.com)
March 8, 2014
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Player of the Game: Indians pitching (9.0 innings, 4 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB / 16 SO)

Leading Off

Pitching was the name of the game for the second consecutive day Friday afternoon, as the Tribe defeated the Chicago Cubs, 7-2. Indians bats tagged Chicago starter Edwin Jackson from the very first inning when utility man Mike Aviles went deep off the right-hander to put Cleveland up, 2-0.

An error by outfielder Jeff Francoeur led to two unearned runs by the Cubs in the second inning, tying the game on a two-run homer by third baseman Kris Bryant off starter Carlos Carrasco. An inning later, Cleveland would regain the lead for good on a RBI double by Yan Gomes.

After dropping their first Cactus League game, the Indians have now ripped off eight straight victories.

Pitching excellence

They say a team will go as far as pitching will take them.

Yes, it's spring so the Tribe isn't making great these pitching outings exactly count, but it is definitley worth noting.

Giving up just two unearned runs Friday, Indians hurlers have not allowed an earned run over their last 26.1 innings. Over that same span they have yielded just seven walks and struck out 33.

Despite giving up a longball, Carrasco looked the best he has all spring, allowing no earned runs over three innings of work with no walks and six strikeouts. So far in Cactus League play, the right-hander has given up just one earned run in seven innings, walking one and striking out nine. Whether he makes the big league club as a starter or reliever, there's no question the right-hander is set to make the biggest impact of his career this season.

Corey Kluber followed up Carrasco with three dominant innings himself, fanning five more Chicago batters. Aquired in the Jake Westbrook trade a few years ago, Kluber has his named inked right in the middle of the rotation looking to build on a breakout 2013 campaign.

Relievers Vinnie Pestano, Blake Wood and Bryan Price each chimed in with a scoreless inning to close out the ballgame, striking out five of the final six Cubs hitters. Don't sleep on a dark horse like Wood to potentially grab one of the final bullpen vacancies, he has a live arm that would look great in the late innings.

Aviles dominating at the dish

We're nine games into spring training, and the two hottest players at the plate for the Tribe so far are two members of the infamous "Goon Squad." Ryan Raburn is one of those players and the other is Aviles, getting out to a scorching start going 5-for-9 with two doubles, a homer and three RBI.

Appearing at second base, shortstop, third base and left field last season, Aviles could be in for more playing time if Asdrubal Cabrera still cannot get back to All-Star form. The 32-year old veteran though needs to continue to improve getting on base more consistenly, compiling less than a .300 OBP over the last three years.

Other notables:

  • In the race for the final bench spot, Francouer and Elliot Johnson each went a hitless 0-for-3, while Nyjer Morgan collected a base-hit in two at-bats.
  • Minor league first baseman David Cooper collected his first RBI of the spring on a RBI single in the sixth inning. The former Toronto Blue Jay is looking to make a comeback following rare spinal surgery this winter.
  • Danny Salazar made his spring debut in an intrasquad “B” game Friday, allowing one unearned run and striking out three of the six batters he faced. Tossing 21 pitches, the young flame-thrower topped out at 96 MPH. Salazar is scheduled throw two innings in his first Cactus League appearance on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Closing Time

With their eighth straight victory, Cleveland improves to a 8-1 record this spring as the team sits in first place in the Cactus League standings.

Spring training stats can be deceiving, but it sure is nice to see this team to come together strong early on and win ballgames. Starting pitching continues to be the biggest question mark going into the regular season, but just like last year, it could leave critics scratching their head and buying in when it's all said and done.

Up next for Indians: The Tribe travels to Peoria Stadium Saturday afternoon to take on the San Diego Padres at 3:05 p.m. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will get the start for the Wahoo’s and be opposed by two-time All-Star Josh Johnson.

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

User Comments

Joe Chengery
March 9, 2014 - 9:31 PM EDT
Shy,

By your own criteria, the 90s teams fit, arguably even more than the 50s teams did, as the 50s teams only made one postseason and lost the World Series, a Series they were heavily favored to win after winning 111 games. While the 90s teams didn't win the WS either, they made the postseason more than once, something the 50s teams never did, even though they had great players and a great manager too.

Personally, I think both eras qualify as providing a winning culture- it was the period inbetween that was lacking. The 2000s faltered much more than the 90s did, as the 2005 team didn't make the postseason, and the 2007 team didn't reach the WS- that decade (outside of 2000-2001) is the one that didn't provide the winning culture you speak of; the 90s era definitely did, as it brought back hope and expectancy of winning a WS, something that had been missing here since the 50s.

Hopefully, you're right on the beginning of a new winning culture - I think the ingredients and pieces are in place; now they just need to build the momentum and consistency to contend year in and year out, hopefully winning one or more World Series in the process.
shy
March 8, 2014 - 2:54 PM EST
POK, I thought about the 90's in terms of winning culture but it didn't quite make the cut. Great players- Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Brian Giles, Richie Sexson, Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar, Manny Ramirez and more. Good manager in Grover and GM John Hart but 94-99 even with all that talent they lost 3 LCS's and 2 WS's. And then it all got blown up. I suppose if you look closely at the 50's that could be debunked as merely a good run as well and not a cultural shift. Culture is something you have to look back at over history and it probably takes decades of consistency to ID w certainty. This feels real-if only a beginning. I think a lot of it has do w Terry Francona esp. and Mark Shapiro/Chris Antonetti as proxies for the Dolans. They have a chance to build something of a legacy here. and I think they recognize it and highly value it. But as they say, "All truth shall be revealed in the fullness of time"
pathofkindness
March 8, 2014 - 2:11 PM EST
No "winning culture" in the '90's Shy? hmmm....?
pathofkindness
March 8, 2014 - 2:09 PM EST
Nice game.

I think its interesting that Francona has put Gomes in the four spot a couple/few times already. I doubt that will continue in the regular season, but who knows? There were people here who thought that Terry had a philosophy about not doing that, and maybe this disproves that notion, of course its probably just because Santana is not getting regular at bats at DH...

I can't really see Johnson making the team, and certainly Aviles is doing his best to maintain his place as the primary backup infielder.

Also, I don't know why these middle finger issues (w Corey and Zach) make me so dang nervous, maybe the psychological damage of rooting for Adam Miller for so many years...8--{
shy
March 8, 2014 - 2:03 PM EST
Indians pitching has been wonderful so far this spring. You worry about young newly dependable starters with breakthrough years like Kluber and McCallister regressing - and they look even better. You worry about young on the ledge guys like Carrasco and Bauer getting mentally bogged down and falling but they both look strong- Bauer really looks like different- like a tough hombre big league pitcher instead of a character out of Weird Science. I think the oddsmakers and analysts threw an early cold towel on the Indians chances this year because of the loss of Jimenez and Kazmir. It looks to me like pitching could be a major strength both starting and relieving esp if 1 or 2 under the radar guys like Lee, Price and Wood end up breaking through. The most obvious thing to me that is not being valued by the national baseball media is the culture that is growing around Tribetown. It's a winning culture, the seeds of which were planted last year. Teams that have culture - Yankees, Cardinals, Braves, Rays, the ingredients come and go on a regular basis but the teams are always good, always fun to watch, always in the hunt. Cleveland hasn't had it since the 50's. We have it now IMO
Mark Sheets
March 8, 2014 - 10:15 AM EST
If Swisher, Bourne, and Acab have average years for them instead of the miserable years they had last year that will be a great improvement. I didn't see a need to spend a lot of money this off season. The pieces we need are already in place. We are all waiting for Lonnie and Santana to have their breakout years and if those happen to fall inline for 2014 we could be looking at a dream season.
Matthew
March 8, 2014 - 10:02 AM EST
Danny Devito is right. Spring training only matters when the Tribe loses, like when they lost the first game of the Cactus League season and he insisted that the result was a harbinger of things to come (http://www.indiansbaseballinsider.com/blog/indians-drop-spring-opener-to-reds,-8-3-62090).

When the Tribe wins in Spring Training, it's because they're using fringe guys and surgery pitchers. Those players are specifically designed to win Spring Training games but not regular season games. This makes sense somehow.
Hawk1228
March 8, 2014 - 9:45 AM EST
I am excited by spring training wins. I look at it as a culture of winning. There is chemistry about this team and an attitude of commitment to winning. It may have something to do with Swisher and his extraordinary amount of enthusiasm and the professionalism of Giambi along with the demeanor of a confident manager, but how can you not notice the change in the club last season. Yes these games are meaningless and are used primarily as getting game ready but winning becomes something that is expected and why not start in spring. I see big young pitchers like Masterson and McCallister as well as hard throwing Carrasco and Salazar with Kubler and Tomlin who know how to pound the strike zone. We may not have that big strong 4 hitter capable of hitting 35 plus homers, but we have a lineup that is very capable to keep it moving to the next batter. Some have given Detroit this division, I feel very much differently, I know the subtraction of Fielder, Peralta, and Fister will hurt. I also am looking at a rookie over at third, a 40 year old right fielder, an aging closer and more importantly the loss of a wily manager who knew this club. This division is up for taking and this Cleveland club is very capable.
Walter
March 8, 2014 - 9:18 AM EST
It looks like that Carlos Carrasco is doing his best to nail down that 5th starting spot. Looks like Kluber could be a strong #3 starter for the Indians this year.

Was also impressed with Pestano and Wood yesterday, Indians pitchers that are battling for the final pitching spots are making it hard for Francona,

I think are bullpen could be the surprise this year. Anyone who falters or there are any injuries, there are options/depth down in Columbus to replace them.
Walter
March 8, 2014 - 9:08 AM EST
Joseph

If the Indians were 1-8 instead of 8 -1 in spring training would we be hearing from you saying that this the real Indians no pitching and hitting expect them to lose 100 games?

Currently they are averaging around 6 runs per game and throwing quite few zero's. If it was not for the errors yesterday they would have shut out the Cubs back to back.

Chip
March 8, 2014 - 6:22 AM EST
I think either of Carrasco or Bauer will give you as much,or more as Jimenez did. I'm a big Carrasco fan and think he will have a breakout year much in the same way Kluber did last year. In fact, it can be argued that Carrasco has better stuff. Bauer has looked much better the last couple times out and they have capable depth with Tomlin, Marcum, and Harang. Like I've stated before, it seems foolish that they didn't ink Kazmir to a 2 yr deal similar to what he got from the A's, but that would have immediately eliminated a spot for Carrasco or Bauer. I think starting pitching is a strength for this team.

If Santana can make the transition to 3B and the signing of Murphy, this team will be improved offensively. Swisher and Bourn had below normal performances last season and they will likely see an uptick in performance this year. Cabrera can't be as bad as he was last season. Point being, they made the playoffs and won 91 games last season with some subpar performances. Have some faith!
Tony
March 8, 2014 - 3:04 AM EST
Which pitchers coming off surgery are they relying on?
Joseph Devito
March 8, 2014 - 2:47 AM EST
We shouldn't get excited by the spring training wins. Truth is...they are using fringe guys, not the starters. When the bell rings we still don't have a cleanup hitter and are depending too much on pitchers coming off of surgery. You don't win anything in spring training. Remember management did next to nothing to improve this team in the offseason.

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