The series: Visited the Angels (loss, win, loss) and hosted the Athletics (loss, loss, win).
The big story: The 2008 rotation became Bizarro 2007 Rotation. Westbrook and Lee were the team's biggest problems in early 2007, combining for a 6.99 ERA through June 2, with just four quality starts in just 13 tries, having missed nine starts due to injury. Their paths diverged after that, with Westbrook returning from the DL to be one of the league's better pitchers in the final three months, while Lee's downward spiral culminated in three straight seven-run trainwrecks and a demotion to Buffalo. This season, the two have combined for a 1.31 ERA and have the same four quality starts in their four tries. This week, Westbrook was either one ground ball or 480 feet away from a shutout, depending on how you look at it, while Lee baffled the Athletics for eight innings of two-hit ball. Lee has allowed just one walk and one extra-base hit in his two starts.
On the flip side, Carmona, so dominant in 2007, started 2008 with fine results but worrisome walk totals, and they finally caught up with him this week in an eight-walk trainwreck in which he was lucky to give up only 3 runs in 3.1 innings. Byrd, surprisingly good to start 2007, has been surprisingly terrible to start 2008. Sabathia, the Cy Young incumbent, produced his third trainwreck in three tries, in fact the worst of the three, and has been the worst starter in all of baseball this season. The last time an Indians starter made three straight starts with an 11-something ERA, he was demoted to the minors the next day, despite his multi-year deal and multi-million-dollar salary. That man, of course, was Cliff Lee.
In other news: All in all, it feels like we're closer to 4-8 than 6-6, whether or not that's actually the case. JoBo served up the first totally incomprehensible and indigestible loss of the year. Iron Rafi seemed to right himself with two perfect innings following a very shaky start, while Steel Rafi got roughed up pretty good. Carmona signed a deal almost too good to be believed, with the Indians guaranteeing just $14.5 million for 2009-2011 while securing Carmona's services at bargain prices clear through 2014. Victor slowly returned to the lineup with little sign of ill effects. The Tigers deepened their early-season hole with a 2-4 performance, getting outscored 39-18 and suffering the losing side of three shutouts along with a minor rash of minor injuries. Gutierrez had the sniffles ("I am Jay's total lack of surprise"), leading to the natural conclusion that Wedge should be fired, while Dellucci defiantly emerged as our second-best hitter behind Garko.
Post of the week: Now taking nominations.
Who fed it: Peralta slugged a cool 947 with three home runs, now on pace for 40. Dellucci smacked three doubles in his four starts, scored as a pinch-runner, and pulled a bases-loaded walk as a pinch-hitter, ending the week with an astonishingly useful .400/.526/.600 line. Lee and Westbrook rocked. Masa, J.J., Craigers and Stomp gave up 3 runs total in 13.2 innings of mostly long relief, with 10 K, 5 BB and 8 hits. Jamey Carroll was transcendently solid, pairing deft defense with a .545 OBP. Shoppach hit .375 with a clutch home run. Absolute Best: Peralta. Relative Best: Dellucci.
Who ate it: Sabathia and Byrd unequivocally crapped the bed in their only starts. AbaCab went 4-for-19, but it's 4-for-24 if we include last Sunday's game, with just one walk and no extra bases. Michaels was an empty 2-for-14, no walks or extra bases – which sadly raised his OPS by 50 points, all the way to 315 – and in fact his OBP (.133) was even lower than his average (.143). Sizemore slugged just .275 over the past ten games, with no extra base hits despite a fine average (the same .275 of course) and decent OBP (.362). Finally, since his clutch double on Opening Day, Blake's line is .129/.206/.161, and he really might be playing his way out of a job. Absolute Worst: Michaels. Relative Worst: Sabathia.
The other guys: Joe Saunders had a terrific outing against us to start the week; K-Rod did not. Vlad and Torii combined to go 8-for-23, and each smacked two home runs in three games. Darren Oliver faced ten batters, hit two of them and walked one, but gave up no hits or runs. Some poor bastard named Fernando Hernandez gave up six runs to us in two outings, recording only a HBP and a run-scoring walk in the first game. The second time out, he very nearly got through two whole scoreless innings, but then he changed his mind and quickly gave up four runs. Bobby Crosby went 5-for-11 with a home run and two walks.
- Royals and White Sox, still in first place.
- Sabathia being the worst pitcher in the league.
- Cliff Lee as Cy Young candidate.
- Marte getting a start.
- Could we stop screwing around and have one really good week please?
- Since any blogger writing in his/her parents' basement in his/her underwear can speculate on whether C.C.'s contract situation is distracting him, what exactly do we need newspaper columnists for?
- How good can Cliff Lee really be, and for how long?
- Can Dellucci be the nice role player he was meant to be for us?
- Still too soon for a Michaels death-watch?
- Too soon to mention a Caesy Blake death-watch, even in hushed tones?
- Martevich? Martevich Martevich Martevich Martevich?
- Still too soon for a Tigers 2008 season death watch?
- How healthy will Victor be this season?
- Could Peralta be charging into a breakout season, just one month from his 26th birthday?
- Can Cliff Lee really bounce back to be a pretty good pitcher?
- Does anybody have any clue who will be our 2009 Opening Day starter?
- For more than half our relievers, do we really have the slightest idea if they're really good or really bad?