Tribe Madness: League Park and Dunn Field Regional finals
Our IBI Tribe Madness tournament moves into the region finals as the final two teams in the League Park Region and Dunn Field Region square off. Two players will be eliminated, and the two winners will face off against one another in the Elite 8 round.
League Park Regional Championship
#3 3B Jim Thome (1996) vs. #1 2B Nap Lajoie (1906)
April: Thome 36, Lajoie 21
Opening day bottom of the 10th, nobody on, nobody out and a 3-2 count to third baseman Jim Thome, and he connects with a long fly ball to right field and it's gone as the Thome-Hawk fans go wild with Thome's walkoff homer on opening day. It was his third hit of the day and Jim used it to spark a .303 April with 9 bombs and 26 RBI to take an early lead of legendary Cleveland infielders. Larry Lajoie didn't get a hit until his twelfth at bat of the season. The Frenchman's slow start was salvaged by a 9-for-21 finish to get his average to .272.
May: Thome 87, Lajoie 81
Jim Thome used a 19-game hitting streak to kickoff a very successful May as he hit in every May contest except for two of them. Thome hit .380 on the month with 12 homers and 30 RBI. Nap Lajoie added his own 18-game streak in May and ended the month on a 16-for-25 run. The Frenchman topped Thome's .380 May average with his own .405 with 9 doubles and 20 runs scored.
June: Thome 147, Lajoie 123
A 1-for-25 and a 1-for-18 streak hampered Jim Thome's progress as he suffered through his worst month of the season. Jim only hit .202 with 5 homers and 12 RBI, which were all season lows for the Peoria, Illinois native. Nap Lajoie is still looking for his first homer but put up a .333 average in June thanks to a month-ending 18-game hitting streak. During the streak, the Frenchman raised his average 25 points.
July: Thome 198, Lajoie 174
In his first 24 July at bats, Jim Thome was still mired in his June funk and his season average dipped to .287. Thome then went on a roll and by the end of the month, he raised his average above the .300 mark. He hit .333 with 9 homers and 22 RBI. Nap Lajoie singled in the third inning on July 1st to stretch his hitting streak to 19 games and he kept hitting. The streak just kept growing until being stopped on the 17th with an 0-for-4 day (33 games). The Frenchman finished July with a .359 average but he's still looking for his first homer.
August: Thome 243, Lajoie 219
Nap Lajoie hit in his first 17 August games and rolled to a .371 month. Of his 43 August hits, only 5 went for extra bases but he did swipe a season high 12 bases. He went 0-fer in his final 8 at bats. On August 1st, Jim Thome sent notice by crushing two pitches into the cheap seats as he maintained his 24 point lead. Jim did it by hitting 11 bombs while driving in 22 and scoring 24 times to go along with a .272 average.
September: Thome 312, Lajoie 243
Jim Thome put the dagger into the the number #1 seed's heart with an 11 homer, 26 RBI September with a .351 average. He started the month with an 8-game hitting streak in which he hit 4 bombs then cruised to victory. For his part, the Frenchman had only his second sub-.300 month (.297) and added only one stolen base. His 14 runs were his second worst of the season but his 2 triples were his best.
Jim Thome: .310/.437/.666/1.103, 19 2B, 2 3B, 57 HR, 126 R, 139 RBI, 1 SB, 10.4 WAR
Nap Lajoie: .338/.374/.428/.802, 54 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 102 R, 88 RBI, 39 SB, 8.1 WAR
Dunn Field Regional Championship
#6 SP Willie Mitchell (1913) vs. #1 SP Bob Feller
April: Mitchell 45, Feller 42
Bob Feller went 8.1 innings giving up one unearned run and striking out 8 to win the opener 4-1. Mitchell for his part whiffed 9 in the 7 innings he went. Mitchell came back with a 3-hit winner over the Heater from Van Meter (2-1) in their second start. That's when the two hurlers were separated. Feller would give up one run in a 12-1 decision then get 3 no decisions as he went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA. Meanwhile, Willie shut out the Fellows 10-0 but dropped a 2-3 decision to finish the month 2-2 with a 1.98 ERA.
May: Feller 75, Mitchell 66
Willie Mitchell started May with a six inning performance to notch a 7-5 win but dropped his next two 1-6 and 2-8 (8 earned runs in 4.2 innings). Right after his worst start of the season, Willie gave up only 4 hits and no runs in 8 innings. In the next two starts, Willie gave up only 2 earned runs (5 total) in 13 innings but lost both decisions. For the month, Willie was 2-4 with a 4.19 ERA. Feller lost his first decision 4-1 but won his next six to finish May with a 2.59 ERA.
June: Feller 111, Mitchell 105
Willie Mitchell gave up 5 runs in his first June start and suffered a 2-10 loss. He then gave up only 5 earned runs in his final 5 starts but could only muster a 2-2 June record. After splitting his first two June starts, Bob Feller threw a 4-hit shutout while striking out 10. That win started a four game win streak and Feller is now 12-3 on the season.
July: Feller 150, Mitchell 141
Feller's July started out with a quality 3-2 win on Independence Day but he then dropped 4 in a row as he posted his poorest month of the season. Feller finished July with a 1-4 mark and a 3.50 ERA in 7 starts. On a good note, his 51 strikeouts were tied for a season high. Matched up against Feller, Willie Mitchell turned up his game a notch going 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA. The southpaw from Utah finished the month giving up only 2 runs in his final 16.1 innings.
August: Mitchell 189, Feller 189
Willie Mitchell is making a solid claim for the Dunn Field Region Championship. He did it by giving up only 5 runs in 5 consecutive starts to go 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA (2 no decisions). His hot month evened the score with Bob Feller who went 2-3 with a 4.09 ERA in August. Heading into the final month, Mitchell is hot while Feller is cold. The Heater from Van Meter needs to right himself to pull this out.
September: Feller 225, Mitchell 216
All knotted up at 189, Feller and Mitchell squared off in start number one. Mitchell was pulled in the fifth inning after giving up one run on 89 pitches and Feller went 8.1 innings for a 5-2 win (Feller 198, Mitchell 192). Start number two was a true battle. The Fellows struck for a run in the sixth but the Willies came back for two. That was it as both pitchers and their bullpens made it stick and Mitchell took the 2-1 win (Mitchell 204, Feller 204). Willie Mitchell took command in start number 3 as he went all 9 for a 7-3 win. Feller gave up six as Mitchell moved up, 207-204. Mitchell used start number four to increase his lead with a 5-2 win (Mitchell 210, Feller 204). Feller rebounded to stay in the game with a 9-6 win as Mitchell gave up seven and didn't get out of the second while Feller went six and allowed 4 runs (Mitchell 210, Feller 207). Feller dropped his sixth start 2-4 but Mitchell was gone in the seventh and did not get the win (Mitchell 216, Feller 213). In a dramatic final game of the season, Bob Feller pitched a two-hit shutout while striking out 11 for a 6-0 win. Mitchell gave up 5 (3 earned) in 6.2 innings to drop to 18-11.
Willie Mitchell: 18-11, 2.52 ERA, 282.1 IP, 79 ER, 125 BB, 204 K, 1.28 WHIP, 7.2 WAR
Bob Feller: 18-14, 2.91 ERA, 293.1 IP, 95 ER, 140 BB, 290 K, 1.25 WHIP, 7.5 WAR
Next up: #3 3B Jim Thome (1996) vs. #1 SP Bob Feller (1946)
Here are the updated west and east brackets:
I'm also thinking the Thome/Feller match up could be a pretty good one.