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Second Thoughts: Game #51 - Twins 1, Indians 7

Second Thoughts: Game #51 - Twins 1, Indians 7
June 2, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
MIN 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 1
CLE 0 2 1 4 0 0 0 0 X 7 14 2
W: D. Lowe (7-3) L: C. Pavano (2-5)

Player of the Game: Derek Lowe (6 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO)

The Leadoff

After a much needed day off on Thursday, the Tribe came out swingin’ early on Friday against the Minnesota Twins, cruising to an easy 7-1 victory on the arm of veteran Derek Lowe. Celebrating his 39th birthday, Lowe quieted Twins hitters throughout the night, inducing 10 groundball outs in 6 2/3 innings.  

The Indians starter had lots of help offensively from everyone throughout the lineup, as the team banged out 14 hits on the night. No swing proved to be bigger than Jason Kipnis’ grand slam in the bottom of the fourth inning off former Tribe starter Carl Pavano, already his ninth home run on the season.

The Top 9

  • It’s all about D Money. He’s back folks! After getting roughed up for eight runs in his last start against Chicago, the birthday boy Derek Lowe shut down the Twins on just one run and five hits last night. The veteran right hander picked up his American League leading seventh win on the year and is ninth in the AL with a 3.06 ERA. He is now 3-2 in seven appearances (four starts) on his birthday with a 2.52 ERA and one save in his career. There was one point in the sixth inning Lowe was throwing a two-hit shutout, with the only two hits coming off the bat of Minnesota catcher Ryan Doumit.
  • We are all Kipnisses…no really, we are! I’ll go on record as saying right now Jason Kipnis WILL be an All-Star come July this season. Now will he start the game? Probably not, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that he will be starting in the game someday. The Tribe second baseman hit his first grand slam of his career in what was a game clincher for the Indians against the Twins on Friday. Kipnis now has the most home runs, RBI, and stolen bases out of any second baseman in all of Major League Baseball. There is simply nothing else I can say about him except that he is without a doubt, a superstar in the making.
  • The Chiz Kid. Lonnie Chisenhall has not missed a beat so far in his time back with the Tribe. Going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer last night, the Chiz Kid is now hitting .385 (5-for-13) with two HRs and three RBI in his first three games with Cleveland. With Jack Hannahan just put on the 15-Day DL, Chisenhall has a huge opportunity to show what he can do offensively for the Tribe after gaining a little more experience at Triple-A Columbus earlier this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chisenhall remains the starting third baseman even after Hannahan comes off the disabled list.
  • Starting pitching means everything. We as Indians fans have seen it first hand over the last six games, Tribe starters really never gave the team a chance to win a ballgame. With an outstanding outing from Lowe yesterday, let’s hope he will jumpstart and fuel the other four starters into pitching more consistently in the weeks and months ahead. With the win against Minnesota, Lowe now owns a 6-1 record after an Indians loss this season.
  • I want to be like Mike. Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI-double in the third inning on Friday. Over his last 10 games, the Indians center fielder is hitting .368 (14-for-38) with three doubles and eight RBI. He is really coming into his own batting in the middle of the Tribe lineup.
  • Everyone contributed offensively. With only the absence of Casey Kotchman, all of the Indians starters got at least one hit in the ballgame against the last place Twins. The team has now scored at least six runs and finished with double digit hits in four of their last six games.
  • Damon is starting to look like Da-Man we know. With two hits in the ballgame, Johnny Damon looks like he is finally starting to get more comfortable at the plate. The Indians outfielder is hitting .357 (5-for-14) over his last four games with two runs and three RBI. And how about that sensational diving catch in left field in the top of the sixth inning robbing Denard Span of a double? Incredible! Things look as though they may be finally turning around for the veteran at just the right time.
  • Bullpen Mafia barely used. It’s never a good thing to tax a bullpen, especially on the first game of a three or four-game series. The Indians will not have to worry about that this weekend as Nick Hagadone and Jeremy Accardo combined to work 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just one hit and striking out a pair. Both Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez will be more than fresh and ready to go if need be this weekend.
  • Winning the first game of a series. I can’t express how important it was for the Tribe to win the opening game against the Twins last night. Coming off a stretch where they lost five of their last six games, it was nice to see the Indians dominate both offensively and even more importantly, defensively and on the starting pitching side once again. The team needs to at least win this series, but I know expectations are that the Tribe will sweep the struggling Twins.

The Bottom 4

  • The weather. It may have been only June 1st, but last night’s Tribe game almost felt like a playoff game in October to me with the cool and windy weather that rolled into town. Wait, wasn’t it just 92 degrees on Monday? Only in Cleveland. For the 19,904 that did show up to Progressive Field and stuck out the mid-50 degree temperatures yesterday, they were simply treated to a huge Indians win and even more of a reason to believe the Tribe will make it back into first place fairly soon. Come on Cleveland, this is a Browns Town, we’ve been through worse weather in April.
  • No roster moves? With Travis Hafner sidelined for 4-6 weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Thursday, and lingering injuries to both Carlos Santana and Jack Hannahan, the Indians decided not to make any roster moves before Friday night’s ballgame. I don’t understand why Juan Diaz has not been sent back down to Double-A Akron yet, but any Tribe fan would have to be thinking that they will be seeing Matt LaPorta in an Indians uniform very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Triple-A star in the big leagues again by Monday.
  • Errors. While both errors the Tribe made last night did not amount to any runs, errors are not something the team can do not only with so many bats missing from the lineup, but with Lowe on the mound as well. Being a ground ball pitcher and a guy who pitches to contact, the Indians need to work on giving Lowe a more solid outing defensively as opponents are going to put the ball in play all game.
  • Snow Days cancelled. News broke late on Friday that the Indians will not be bringing back Snow Days this winter at Progressive Field. Like the current problem the team is dealing with today, fans just didn’t come out to the park during the cold winter months over the past two seasons and the Tribe lost money. Some of that has a lot to do with the mild winter we had and some was due to the price of admission at the gate. While I did attend and enjoy Snow Days once this past winter, I myself thought the price of admission was a steep price to pay and to be honest, I kind of felt it’s a onetime thing to do as well. Just a suggestion if the organization ever decides to bring it back, how about half-off admission prices for returning customers?  Figures, Snow Days are cancelled just as I was starting to get the hang of ice skating this past winter too.

Closing Time

With the win last night, the Indians (28-23) still stay 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the Central Division, as the ChiSox have now won nine consecutive games. Kipnis is the first Indians player with a grand slam and a stolen base in the same game since Omar Vizquel back in 1999. Lowe is just the fourth Indians starter to earn seven wins through the team’s first 51 games of a season. The only other pitchers to also put up the seven victories over the same time span were Cliff Lee in 2008, CC Sabathia in 2007 and Dave Burba in 2001. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to wish the Indians had an option on Lowe for the 2013 season.

Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will look to stay undefeated against their Central Division rival Twins on Saturday, as it will be Josh Tomlin (2-2, 4.99 ERA) vs. P.J. Walters (2-1 2.96 ERA) at 7:15 pm. Fans coming out to the ballpark will receive a 2012 Indians team photo and can also enjoy Rally Alley and postgame fireworks for the second consecutive night.

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

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