While We’re Waiting… Worst. Week. Ever.

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This has not been a good week for the Tribe. “Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was saddled with the loss, although he didn’t really pitch all that poorly. He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs, one of which was unearned. That run was still Jimenez’ fault, though, as it came when, with one on in the fifth, Jimenez threw wildly to first on a ball which had bunted to the third-base side of the mound, allowing the baserunner to reach third and the batter to take second. Each of these baserunners went on to score on sacrifice flies.

Compared to what was to come later, though, that inning looked like a thing of beauty. Bryan Shaw came out to pitch in the eighth inning, and that’s when things really got sketchy for the Indians. After a leadoff single, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera bobbled what should have been a 6-4-3 double play grounder, and everybody was safe. A wild pitch by Shaw advanced both runners, and then a throwing error on a ball hit to Jason Kipnis allowed both runners to score. Cody Allen then came out to put a bow on things for the Angels, giving up a single, a walk, another single, and a sacrifice fly to give the Angels a 7-2 lead.

Of course, the way the Indians have been hitting lately, or rather failing to hit lately, that might as well have been a 72-2 lead. Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen struck out the side in the eighth, and it took Ernesto Frieri all of nine pitches to retire the Tribe in order in the ninth inning. The offense has been pathetic lately. They have gone 70 straight innings without scoring more than one run in any inning. I don’t care if your starting rotation consists of Sandy Koufax, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Justin Verlander in their primes: you aren’t going to win a lot of ballgames with an offense like that.” [Vern Morrison/It’s Pronounced “Lajaway”]

Seriously. Not a good week. At all. “A three game deficit in the division suddenly turned into a 7.5 game chasm, and control of the 2nd wild card spot ceded way to a 3.5 game hole. After Friday, the Indians found themselves just a half game above the streaking Royals for 2nd place in the Central Division. What a difference a week makes.

None of this means the Indians are out of the playoff hunt, mind you. The Central Division may be a foregone conclusion at this point, as the Tigers have a 7.5 game lead and the best run differential in the major leagues. They’re going to be awfully tough to catch at this point, depressing as that may be to admit. But the other contenders for the two AL Wild Card spots are having their own issues. Tampa Bay is the favorite for one of the spots, but their #2 starter (Matt Moore) is on the DL. Texas lost Nelson Cruz to the Biogenesis suspensions, although they did manage to trade for Alex Rios (and Alex Rios’ contract) on Friday. Baltimore’s starting pitchers have struggled all season, and they play a far more difficult schedule the rest of the way out than the Indians will face. It’s an uphill climb and it’s going to involve a lot more scoreboard watching than the usual September playoff fight, but there’s still a chance for the Indians to snag a wild card slot for the first time in team history. Even after the Tigers debacle, Baseball Prospectus playoff odds had the Indians at a 28.5% chance of making it to the postseason (and a 1.1% chance of winning the World Series). That’s a far cry from the Tigers MLB-best 99.5% chance at the playoffs and 23.9% chance at taking home the hardware, but hey, at least we’re not the White Sox. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, and the Indians schedule remains undaunting. “ [Al Ciammaichella/The DiaTribe].

Travis Benjamin is very very fast. “Benjamin had just three punt returns in 2012, but had a 93-yard return for touchdown against the Chiefs.If you count the preseason score, Benjamin has scored on two of his four returns.

However, Benjamin continues to make plays in practice every day as a receiver and is being counted upon to be one of the key contributors on the receiving corps.

“I feel with my speed on offense or special teams, any time I get on the field I can make a difference,” he said. “I feel great and feel that I’m coming out here every day and getting better. I feel slowly but surely I’m getting into the offense.”

Rob Chudzinski said he’s counting on Benjamin to not only return punts, but as a receiver, as well. He will be very important in the first two games while Josh Gordon serves a two-game suspension.

“We’ll use (Benjamin) as a receiver,” Chudzinski said. “Whether Josh is there or not, we’ll use him as a receiver during the course of the season. He’s a guy with a really unique skill set with the speed that he has. He’s definitely somebody we want to take advantage of and find a role for. He will be more important in those first couple games.”” [Fred Greetham/Orange and Brown Report].

Team Canada vs Team Jamaica. Tristan vs Samardo!! “His free throw shooting looked way more fluid than it did in his first two seasons with the Cavs. He went 0/2 in the game after taking a hard foul attempting a dunk on Samardo Samuels. But when he attempted his shots (one short, one long) his stroke was one fluid motion. There was no hitch and there was good arch on the shot. While the results were not there I finally saw for the first time a repeatable motion out of Tristan at the line. He never will become a consistent free throw shooter unless he developed a repeatable stroke so this is a major step in the right direction.

  • Tristan had trouble finishing from the floor as well. He went 2/9 during the game although one attempt looked more like a bobbled catch that was knocked away by a Jamacian defender.
While the numbers don’t look great I actually felt he had a fairly decent game overall. I was actually impressed by a few things in Tristan’s offensive game. When he was in the post he actually was incredibly decisive. Too often last year we would see him hesitate and kill the clock before deciding to give up the ball or force an awkward shot. On Thursday, he would catch the ball and immediately initiate contact. On several occasions, he put his shoulder into his man in order to create space for him to face the basket. From that position he either would find a cutting player or attack his man off the dribble and get into the lane. He missed a couple hook shots from the middle of the key where he would create contact and space with his inside shoulder.” [Justin Rowan/Fear the Sword].
This is too bad. I would’ve enjoyed the heck out of a 3-on-3 Olympic tournament. “Despite a strong push and official application from FIBA, 3-on-3 basketball will not be part of the program at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro the International Olympic Committee decided in a quiet ruling last month.In a statement the IOC’s executive board said that any “any request from International Federations (IFs) that would result in a higher number of athletes or increased number of medals, thereby adding to the cost and complexity of the Games, would not be considered. At a later stage, the IOC will study the quota-neutral requests already made by IFs for either a swap of event or modifications of competition format.”” [Matt Moore/Eye on Basketball].-

I miss good Vinnie. “The biggest concern to the Indians is increasing Pestano’s extension. If extension is increased it allows more torque, ultimately generating more power.

Pestano made his first Columbus appearance July 31st against the Buffalo Bisons throwing a total of twelve fastballs and averaging a six foot ten inch extension. His next appearance came on August 2nd, and he threw seven fastballs and raised his extension to six foot eleven inches.

The hope is with an increase of extension Pestano will be able avoid bats like he did in 2011 and 2012. The Indians have good reason to believe this as between 2010-2012 pitchers with a greater than six foot six inch extension compared to pitchers with less than five foot six inch extension averaged 1.1 strikeouts more per nine innings.

“Velocity is one thing, but there’s a difference between throwing a 90 MPH fastball and throwing a 90 MPH fastball that to the hitter looks faster,” Pestano said.  “So some guys they say have late life and the ball jumps on you quick. Somewhere in the past few months I lost that late life. So even though the radar gun readings might be the same it doesn’t look the same, so we’re trying to get that late life back and coming out here is a good opportunity to do that.”” [Adrienne Robbins/Indians Baseball Insider].