Whining Tigers, Hidden Terry

When the Detroit Tigers come into town, there are two things you can be sure of. The first is that Miguel Cabrera will get several close-ups that look like he’s eaten something that isn’t sitting well. The second is that someone on the team, at some point in the series, will complain to the umpire like that tattle-tale in grade school you wanted to hang in a locker by the belt loops.

The Motor City Kitties didn’t let anyone down this weekend, as it appears as though Ian Kinsler can’t field if there’s a light on, in a bathroom, in the suites behind home plate. Kinsler, a known whiner, joined Brad Ausmus and his ridiculous Bryan Shaw wedding ring grip, and Verlander’s fantastic “stolen signs” gimmick, halting play in the middle of an inning—because of a bathroom light.

Thanks for sucking Detroit.

What happened in the series:

On Friday, Carlos Carrasco continued his Tiger dominance, as the Indians rolled over Detroit, 11-2. It’s the third time that the Indians’ No. 2 starter beat the Tigers this season, and he did it in style. He struck out 11 in seven innings. Bradley Zimmer hit his fifth, Lonnie Chisenhall hit his 12th, and Francisco Lindor hit a two-run triple. On a side note, Victor Martinez acquired his 2,000th hit, and the Indians’ fans gave El Captain a standing ovation. Quality stuff there.

On Saturday, Mike Clevinger continued his fantastic 2017 first half by beating Justin Verlander, 4-0. Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana each had run-scoring doubles, while Bradley Zimmer’s RBI triple added to the cause. It’s the third loss for Verlander against the Indians.

On Sunday, once you got past the Kinsler-whining, and once the Tigers got passed Corey Kluber, the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer outpitched the Indians bullpen in a 5-3 Tigers’ victory. Nick Goody loaded the bases in the seventh, and then Dan Otero allowed all three of those runners to score, to break a 1-1 game open. Otero gave up another run in the eighth, and the Tigers eventually won the game 5-3.

The Indians and Tigers is always a fun series, and this year’s series stands at 6-6 after 12 games. The Tigers have no chance in hell of winning the division, and I’m guessing that they are going to be selling some pieces off, but it was a fun first half. The Indians are slowly-but-surely starting to shape up on a more consistent level, but their 47-40 record is five-games behind their pace of last season. Still, this team is better than last year’s club, and I really think you’re going to see that position itself out as the season continues.

Three up…

  1. You simply can’t not be excited about Bradley Zimmer. In the series against the Tigers, Zimmer went 6-for-14, with a triple, a homer, two runs, and two RBI. He’s also locked up center field, and is slowly being worked into the top of the order. It’s really clear that the Indians see Zimmer as a major future piece, and this little glimmer of lead-off Zimmer could become a reality sooner, rather than later.
  2. While Corey Kluber is going to be the de facto ace of this club until someone is just plain better than he is, Carlos Carrasco is proving to be a guy that is still knocking on the door. In Carrasco’s last two games (both against Detroit), Carrasco has gone 14 innings, with 18 strikeouts and only two walks. He’s had some slip-ups this year, but boy will a healthy Carrasco be welcome in September, and the playoffs. Oh, and what about his “immaculate inning?”
  3. Carlos Santana re-joined the Indians “Paternity Party” this week when his wife gave birth to daughter Luna. Santana has been scorching heart, and continued that with two doubles on Saturday, continuing a streak of three straight multi-hit game. He extended his four-game hit streak on Sunday, and is starting to heat up with the summer.

Three down…

  1. Terry Francona missed the series after having heart surgery for cardiac ablation this past Thursday. Francona will miss this week’s All-Star game, and will return on Friday to manage the team’s first game post-All Star break. You never know how these things affect a baseball team, but the team responded with a three-game win streak, and a pick-up in offense.
  2. Jason Kipnis (mild hamstring strain) was put on the 10-day DL, and Lonnie Chisenhall left Sunday’s game with right calf injury. While neither injury seems all that serious, especially with the All-Star break, you never know how an injury shifts a player’s season. Kipnis has already missed a month, and Chisenhall was arguably snubbed for the All-Star game, and has seen streaks-and-swoons before. Thankfully, the Indians have that break, and their depth at Columbus is fun and interesting. Still, if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that injuries aren’t fun.
  3. It’s really hard for me to complain about the line-up construction with Bradley Zimmer leading off. While I can’t stand less at bats for Jose Ramirez, I do think Zimmer will bleed into a top of the order roll. Still, how do you defend the team’s best hitter potentially getting potentially one PA less a game than inferior hitters? Think of it this way: Francisco Lindor is likely considered by the masses as the best player wearing an Indians’ jersey. This isn’t flawed thinking. That said, JRam’s WAR over the past two seasons is 8.7. Lindor’s is 8.3. JRam has an almost 2 WAR difference in 2017 at this point. If Lindor is better than JRam, but JRam’s numbers weigh more than Lindor’s, should JRam be able to find one of the other three top of the order slots? Is he not better than Kipnis, Brantley and/or Edwin Encarnacion? I know, it’s a stacked line-up, so how do you get JRam in there? Oh wait, shouldn’t we be saying that about the other four guys? That line of thinking does work two ways. So…is Brad Mills giving us a future glimpse, or is it a massive troll?

The future’s so bright…gotta wear…

Ahhhhhhh…four days off.

But wait…

The Indians…have five guys heading to Miami to play in the All-Star game. While this season has been frustrating, give a four-day thanks that we aren’t the Tigers, the White Sox, the Blue Jays, or the pre-Francona Indians. This is a team that got Jose Ramirez voted into the All-Star game1, and had four other players picked as well.

While the team has “underperformed” in some eyes, there is a growing copycat sentiment that the Indians are actually better than last year. While much of this is based on things like Pythagorean Expectations and Wins Above Replacement, and while this is all projection based, it’s still a confirmation that the “bad” of 2017 isn’t all that bad.

This team wins, and hasn’t caught fire. When it does…heaven help the American League.

  1. how in the hell did Francisco Lindor not get enough votes? Not saying he deserved it, but sheesh, isn’t he a face of MLB baseball???? []