In this space last week I said I was going to wait until the weekend series with the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins was finished before making judgments on whether or not the team should be buyers, sellers, or buyers AND sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Had the team been as binary and switch-flippy as I and many other fans are and have been, then we might have been robbed of the joy of the sweep-in-making of the once-ferocious-now-domesticated Detroit Tigers. As of this moment, Cleveland is only four games behind the Twins, which is the closest the team has been since May 9th, the spread between the two teams once growing to as many as 11 games.
Losing two games against the Twins put the Tribe at 6.5 games back of the Twins1 was supposed to be a signal that it was time to throw in the towel, cut our losses on the season and prep for a brighter tomorrow by trading away players like Trevor Bauer, Brad Hand and anything else not tied down with extra years on control. Obviously, this team is not quite ready to kick it in, and have been on a tear against the Motown Kitties. What brought on the recent surge? Two hitters finding or rediscovering their swing might be the key to the trek back up the AL Central standings.
The summer months have been good for Jose Ramirez, which is to say the colder spring months seemed to be a drain on the hitter’s talents. Ramirez has been a man on fire since June started, collecting hits like they are Foundables in the Harry Potter Wizards Unite game.2 Since June 9th, Ramirez has only gone more than two games without a hit twice. Couple that hitting ability, the talent and ability that we have seen before that drove Ramirez to the upper echelon of MLB hitters, with a mirrored 8.3 K rate and BB rate, and you see where the hope is coming from. Ramirez is back to rapping doubles off outfield walls, hitting one per game over his last four games. While I would still prefer a move up the lineup card so as to get JRam as many plate appearances as possible, as well as attempt to keep the flotilla of randos out of the cleanup spot, him hitting fifth seems to not be an issue anymore.
Ramirez isn’t the only hitter making like Stella and getting his groove back. Oscar Mercado is as locked in as he ever in this current series with the Tigers, going a collective 5-13 with three home runs, six RBI, and two stolen bases. It’s hard to say what has caused this return to his early-season form after a June slump, as he has cut down on his strikeout rate each month he’s been in the bigs, and in the month of July and it’s ten-game small sample size, increased his walk rate. It’s entirely possible Mercado just needed to see the horrible Tigers starting pitchers come to town to regain his composure, but it’s too early to rule out Mercado making an adjustment to how pitchers were attacking him. Cleveland’s next 11 games are against Detroit, Kansas City and Toronto, all with less than stellar starting rotations. We all will continue to hope that Oscar season is upon us.3
Nothing but respect for my quarterback
If you have not checked out the Mina Kimes cover story on ESPN Magazine on Baker Mayfield’s ascent to stardom from college to Cleveland and what’s to come, then do yourself a favor and check it out.4 Mayfield is open and unabashed answering questions from Kimes, shrugging off the moniker of being a “franchise QB”, explaining his rationale for the comments he’s made about Hue Jackson and Colin Cowherd as well as others.
One thing I’ve always loved about Mayfield is the dichotomy of personalities he portrays. He is childlike in his silliness and humor, whether it be in the dancing he does regularly, or the jokes with teammates,5 yet is one of the more calculated and focused competitors we have seen, fueled by slights from those judging him wrongly. He can be joking around one instant and be a stone-cold killer on the field in the next moment. I, for one, couldn’t be more ready for this upcoming football season.
Thing I’ve Loved of the Week
Please send me all your Area 51 memes. I love them all. God, I want it to happen where there are actually people who rush the gates of a government facility, armed to the teeth with ninja swords and homemade tear gas, only to be met with the full force of an armed military presence. I don’t want people to die, of course, but I just want to be witness of the power of the internet, coming together to create a real life meme.