Tribe offense explodes late in third straight victory
Home runs by Johnson and Carson help Tribe double up Royals 12-6
In a similar sequence of events to Wednesday's victory over the Padres, the Indians played a close game against the division-rival Royals at Goodyear Ballpark up until the seventh inning, where the Tribe bats came to life with a fury to score nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings to plate nine runs and bury Kansas City 12-6.
Player of the Game: Matt Carson (2-2, HR, 2B, 3 RBI)
Don't be so hasty to count journeyman outfielder Matt Carson out of the conversation for one of the bench spots. He may not have as good a chance at making the team as Jeff Francoeur or Elliot Johnson may have, but he is doing everything within his power to make a case for himself this spring.
Obviously he has sealed his place in modern Indians lore with a crucial walk-off RBI single against the Astros last September during the Tribe's season-ending win streak to punch their ticket to the postseason, but maybe he doesn't want that to be the end of his story.
After his big day of driving in three runs with a double and home run against the Royals, Carson is now batting .292 on the spring. His ability to play all three outfield positions certainly makes him an interesting utility option, but even so, he still has other more viable candidates ahead of him to outperform.
If anything, he'll give 100% no matter where he plays or what role he serves.
Goons In Training
Speaking of the Tribe bench, a tough decision may very well be looming for Terry Francona when the time comes to initiate the latest members into the Goon Squad.
Another spot may have opened up, though, at least temporarily, with the news that veteran DH Jason Giambi would sit out the next several weeks nursing a broken rib. That could be good news for new utility infielder Justin Sellers and veteran outfielder Nyjer Morgan as they vye for spots on the opening day roster.
They would still have to outperform super-sub Elliot Johnson and outfielder Jeff Francoeur, however, as they are viewed as the probable favorites to make the team. Both Francoeur and Johnson had key contributions in Thursday's win going 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI.
Sellers was a late addition as the Tribe acquired him for cash considerations only two weeks ago. He has made the most of the brief time he's had with the Indians thus far, though, batting .636 with three doubles and two RBI. He has also walked four times in seven games, including twice on Thursday against the Royals. Defensively, he can play at third base, shortstop and second base. He has also had reps in the corner outfield spots in the minors, but none at the big league level.
While Morgan hasn't had an impressive spring campaign thus far as he is only batting at the Mendoza Line, but his overall body of talent has kept him in the race as a guy who can play all three outfield positions, hit for high average and steal bases. If the Indians wanted a viable pinch-running option on the bench, then Morgan may get more consideration.
Hi, remember me?
A handful of players in Thursday's game had the opportunity of facing off against their former teams. For the Royals, it was shortstop Jason Donald who got the opportunity to play against his ex-ballclub in the form of the Tribe while catcher Matt Treanor and outfielder Jeff Francoeur battled their former teammates of Kansas City.
Donald was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2006 and came over to the Tribe in the Cliff Lee trade in 2009 where he spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues batting .257 with seven home runs and 34 RBI. On Thursday he went 1-for-1 with a double and a sac-bunt.
As far as Francoeur and Treanor, both have logged time in Kansas City and now got the chance to play against their former club on Thursday. Treanor's stint with the Royals was brief as he was purchased from the Rangers in 2011. He played 65 games in Kansas City batting .226 with three homers and 21 RBI. Francoeur had more history with the Royals playing three seasons there and compiling a .254 with 39 home runs and 149 RBI. Together, they combined for two hits and an RBI in six at-bats.
Facts and Tidbits
- Terry Francona names right-hander Zach McAllister as third starter in the opening day rotation. McAllister pitched three and a third innings on Thursday allowing two runs on four hits.
- Vinnie Pestano allowed his first run of the spring as Jarrod Dyson scored on an RBI single by Ramon Hernandez during his one inning of work in the sixth.
- Blake Wood has now recorded at least one strikeout in his last six appearances and has not allowed a run since March 3rd. He has also retired the side on seven pitches in each of his last three appearances.
- Carlos Carrasco pitched four shutout innings in a "B" game at the Indians' Player Development Complex on Thursday.
- Indians utility man Mike Aviles celebrated his 33rd birthday on Thursday.
Up next: Indians vs. White Sox @ Glendale. First pitch at 4:05pm ET.
The Indians will travel to Glendale to take on another AL Central foe in the White Sox. Right-hander Josh Tomlin will continue his bid for the fifth starter job as he is set to take the mound against White Sox non-roster invite Dylan Axelrod. Tomlin is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three outings while the soft-tossing right-hander Axelrod has allowed one run in two appearances.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
I have a hard time believing that Francona will go with a bench of Giambi, Aviles, Raburn, Johnson and Francoeur.
That makes 14 fielders and 11 pitchers, as both Santana and Chisenhall will imo make the team. I think Terry goes with 12 pitchers. So in that scenario, w Giambi on the team, either Johnson or Francoeur doesn't make it. My sense right now is that Johnson will be the odd man out, but yes, we've still got a ways to go here...
Speaking of the bullpen, it sure seems like Vinnie is going to make the club. Along with Ax, Allen, Shaw, Scrabble and Outman, that leaves 1-2 spots for Lee (favorite), Wood (has looked great), Guilmet, Atchison, Aardsma, and Hagadone.
The first two are 100% locks outside of injury. Johnson's at least a 90% lock, and I think Francoeur is at least a 75-80% lock. Who it is to temporarily take Giambi's spot is up for debate, though I suspect it's one of the four mentioned in my last post. Morgan would have to agree to go to the Minors if he doesn't make the roster, so he might have a slight leg up on the other three, plus is more known for his speed (provided he still has it).
I don't know if Carson can be sent to the Minors or if he can refuse it; if he can refuse it, combined with his play last year, might also give him a slight edge over Cooper and Adams, both of which can be sent down without them refusing it, I believe.
I think Johnson makes the team regardless if Giambi is ready for Opening Day or not.
I think guys like Morgan, Carson, Cooper, and Adams would be the ones who might temporarily take Giambi's spot if he can't go for Opening Day, and based on what I heard (3 weeks out), Giambi won't make the Opening Day roster, so someone else will temporarily benefit by making the Opening Day roster.
Although, that is what will eventually happen I imagine both Tito and Giambi believe there is a difference between his leadership as "one of the guys" a player on the team and as a coach. He can still lead but I think that's part of the thinking.
Unless he completely and totally bombs (i.e. strikes out two out of three times) from here on out, Chiz is going to make the team. Not even a question. IMO no way do the Indians start the season with Santana as the primary third baseman.
I love Giambi, but maybe its time for him to step aside and become a coach, and have someone else (ok w Johnson) in his 25th-man spot...