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Second Thoughts Game #6: Indians 13, Rays 0

Tribe offense explodes in series finale

Second Thoughts Game #6: Indians 13, Rays 0
April 8, 2013
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Player of the Game: Carlos Santana (5-for-5 with 2 2B, HR and 3 RBI)

The Leadoff

They’re back! After getting shutout by dominant Tampa Bay pitching two consecutive nights, the Tribe had the last laugh on Sunday as the team shutout the Rays, 13-0. Indians starter Justin Masterson was brilliant through seven innings of work, giving up just two hits and picking up his second victory on the season.

The Top 9

  • Offense wakes up. Finally! It only took the Indians 20 innings to break their scoreless innings streak, but Tribe hitters made a statement that they would not fall victim to a sweep on Sunday. The Cleveland offense erupted for 13 runs on 17 hits, where 11 of those hits went for extra-bases. In terms of both significance and runs scored, this was easily the Tribe’s biggest win of 2013.
  • Masterson masterful again. How about the first two starts Tribe ace Justin Masterson has put up to start the season. The big Indians right-hander pitched seven innings of shutout ball, silencing Rays hitters to just two hits and eight strikeouts in the game. Not only did Masterson defeat the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner in R.A. Dickey five days ago, but now the 2012 A.L. Cy Young winner David Price as well.
  • Reynolds' bat. With another two absolutely crushed home runs in the game, Mark Reynolds now leads the Indians offensively with four homers and seven RBI. I have a feeling this is only the beginning for Reynolds as he will look to feast in hitter friendly Progressive Field all season long. I know it’s early, but the Tribe may be kickin’ themselves for only signing the right-handed slugger to a one year contract when it’s all said and done.
  • Santana rockin’. Raise your hand if you thought Carlos Santana would be leading the team with a .500 average through the first six games? I sure didn’t. Going a career-high 5-for-5 in the ballgame, the Indians catcher is now 12-for-24 with four doubles, two homers and five RBI. For the player who struck out 101 times last year, Santana has miraculously struck out just once to start this season.
  • Price check. Coming into the ballgame, the Indians were 0-5 against Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. That stat quickly became irrelevant as Tribe hitters scored eight runs on 10 hits against the hard throwing southpaw, giving Price his first loss of the year. A offensive performance like this will certainly give Indians hitters more confidence going forward knowing they can takedown any pitcher on any given night.
  • Long balls. A difference in game can come with one swing of the bat and there was plenty of that on Sunday. The Tribe slugged five home runs in their 13-0 rout of the Rays, the biggest and certainly the longest coming twice off the bat of Reynolds.
  • Getting hits with RISP. Entering the game 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position to start the three-game series, the Tribe didn’t let opportunities pass them by this time as the team went 7-for-18 (.389) with RISP. Even in a 13-0 ballgame, Cleveland’s biggest hit with runners in scoring position came in the second inning, as Drew Stubbs laced a RBI single to give the Indians the early lead and end the scoreless streak offensively.
  • Chiz this. It was nice to see Lonnie Chisenhall get in on the action with a big three-run home run off Price in the fifth inning. Many fans are expecting a huge breakout year for The Chiz Kid this year, including myself. If he can continue to hit against both right and left-handed pitching like he has shown so far, this will definitely be a big year for the Indians third baseman. Chisenhall now has six RBI through the team’s first six games.
  • Scoring first. The Tribe is now 3-1 when scoring first and taking the early lead. It’s always good to set the tone early and play ahead in a ballgame so hopefully we see a lot more of that in these early months of the season.

The Bottom 3

  • Cabrera’s struggles continue. Despite his teammates feasting on Rays pitching, Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera could not break out of his early season funk, going 0-for-4 Sunday afternoon. The two-time All-Star is now just 2-for-24 (.083) to start the year.
  • Swisher. Like Cabrera, Swisher was the only other hitter in the Tribe lineup held without a hit. The Indians first baseman is just 4-for-22 (.182) to begin the 2013 season. I have a feeling Swisher will break out of it though once he gets a taste of his new home of Progressive Field and a long home stand in Cleveland.
  • Lose the series. Even with the win on Sunday, on paper the Tribe still lost the three-game series against Tampa Bay. I’ll take a 3-3 start to the season after a tough road trip, and I think the Indians will as well, now having some momentum heading back home.

Closing Time

With the win against the Rays, the Indians move to .500 on the young season with a 3-3 record, just one game in back of first place in the American League Central Division.

Up next for the Indians: The 2013 Home Opener against the New York Yankees, as it will be Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 1.50 ERA) verses Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 13.50 ERA) at 4:05 pm. Fans attending the ballgame will want to be in their seats by 3:25 pm for pregame Opening Day festivities.

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

User Comments

Seth
April 8, 2013 - 2:21 PM EDT
It's overall played neutral, though slightly negative over the past few years. Weather probably plays a part in it, and I could see it being friendlier in the 90s when there were a lot of warm summers. But the overall neutrality comes from it being friendly to left handed hitters and unfriendly to right handed hitters. I would bet this has something to do with the Indians' lefty-dominated lineups the past years, they were probably trying to acquire players who should get a boost from hitting at Progressive. The wall kills a lot of right handed home runs, and runs in general. Here's one article that talks about it: http://rotoprofessor.com/baseball/?p=16994

Stubbs is the guy who I'd see taking a power hit, as he went from playing half his games in one of the friendliest stadiums for right handed power to one of the least friendly, and he doesn't have the power that Reynolds has.
jwahoo
April 8, 2013 - 1:54 PM EDT
Seth that brings up an interesting point.

When I was younger I was always under the impression The Jake was a good hitters ballpark. But, perhaps that was just due to watching guys like Ramirez, Belle, Thome, Murray, Alomar, Justice, Williams and others tee off.

Recently, I have heard the ballpark described as about as "neutral" as a ballpark can get. So, whats the truth or the most truth? Is the ballpark best for hitters? Pitchers? Or somewhere in between?

Either way I see Reynolds having a solid season wherever he is hitting. 30-35 homers does not seem like a pipe dream and would be awesome with 3 great on base guys (Swisher,Brantley,Santana) hitting in front of him.
Jwahoo
April 8, 2013 - 1:48 PM EDT
Just imagine if we can get Ascab and KIpnis going.

He has not got that much attention but I have been very pleased with Drew Stubs so far. He has played good defense and seems to be able to "lock in" when there are 2 outs and runners in scoring position. If he can continue to do that and start to show his usual power and speed I expect him to have a very solid season before all is said and done and give the Indians protection at the very bottom of the lineup.

If you could get everyone on this offense going at the around the same time this could be a fantastic offense.

Lets win opening day and start this season off right.
Tony
April 8, 2013 - 1:20 PM EDT
Good God. Talk about breaking out and taking out your frustrations on a pitcher. Considering who the Indians were up against, to come home 3-3 is very nice.
brian
April 8, 2013 - 11:49 AM EDT
4 of those 5 HR's came from guys who were not in the lineup last year...I love it.
Joe
April 8, 2013 - 10:01 AM EDT
A pretty solid first week for the Tribe. 3-3 against arguably the best in the East, on turf, and on the road to boot !!! Starting pitching remains a mild concern (after Masterson), however only 6 games in to the season is a bit early to be overly concerned. The bats will come around I think, but Reynolds is really rockin'. Absolute monsters !!! Today should be a lot of fun at the Jake !!! Swisher will be in his element !!!
Seth
April 8, 2013 - 9:49 AM EDT
You know, Progressive Field isn't actually hitter friendly. It's been one of the least friendly parks for right handed power in the majors. Hopefully that won't matter too much with Reynolds, who when he hits them, hits them a long way.

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