Run Diff: 129 to 156 (-21)
Old Mood: mildly
irrational mild exuberance
New Mood: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE THIS THING
Chicago: Won 8-6, Won 3-2, Lost 5-3, Lost 8-1
@Boston: Won 8-3, Lost 7-5, Lost 4-1, Lost 12-1
@Minnesota: Won 5-4, Won 5-0
Seattle: Won 9-3, Won 6-5
Miami (Seriously? This is a thing now?): Lost 3-2, Won 2-0, Lost 5-3
Detroit: Won 5-3, Won 4-2, Won 2-1
@Chicago: Lost 9-3, Lost 14-7, Lost 12-6
Kansas City: Won 8-5, Lost 8-2, Lost 6-3
Minnesota: Won 7-1, Lost 7-4, Lost 6-3
@Detroit: Won 4-2, Won 9-6, Lost 7-5
THE BIG STORY: Apathy? Is that a storyline? The Indians were tooling along, getting to a high water mark of 8 games over until the the late May series against Chicago. On that visit to Chicago, two of the early season standouts, Jeanmar Gomez and Derek Lowe, each took it on the chin and then, for good measure, Ubaldo took the mound in the final game and looked totally, irrevocably broken — a game I was at and which I did not enjoy. Of course, that was sort of the turning point for "The U" (can I do that? Is it confusing now that there's a "Miami" team?), but that's not really in scope this particular breakdown. After that Chicago series, the Indians just started bleeding EVERYWHERE (all over the rug, in the garage, just everywhere) dropping consecutive series to the Royals and Twins who are as vile as they've ever been. The Tribe ended this little month of standings gridlock (as in, going nowhere) with the 2012 Indians' healing salve: the Tigers. By taking their early June series from Detroit, the Indians improved to 5-1 against the Tigers, just a year after getting shellacked by the Motor City 9 down the stretch. If you need any more evidence for why "These guys just OWN these other guys" doesn't make any sense, there you go. Substantially the same teams with, if anything, Detroit getting better, and Cleveland suddenly can't miss against Leyland's legions.
The offense was basically fine, clocking in at just over 4 runs per contest, but the pitching and defense did one better, giving up just over 5 a contest. That, my friends, is not a formula for success.
THE BEST THING GOING:Channeling myself from May 23: Oh, Travis Hafner is back. Over his last 16 games, he's got a 7:10 BB:K ratio and six of his last 12 hits have been for extra bases. The big project-donkey's performance is being artificially suppressed by a .220 BABIP; Hafner is primed to explode as soon as some singles start dropping somewhere besides in gloves. Pronkville, open for business: who's got blueprints for a mixed-income development that I can approve?
And then, suddenly, he went on the DL, with knee soreness that wasn't going to require surgery until, of course, it required surgery and 4-6 weeks of rehab. At this point, I don't ever think of Hafner as on the DL — I just imagine he's taking vacation days because the Indians recently changed their benefits package. Basically, if he doesn't use all his days up before the end of the season, he'll lose them! Hence, the need to take off so much time. I mean, can you blame the guy? He earned those vacation days!
Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano were both good in this stretch, with ERAs around 2.50; by the by, did you know Pestano was five months older than Perez? Learn something new every day.
Really, though, as much as I want to dance around it, this was Michael Brantley's run, with his 22-game hitting streak beginning on May 20 and stretching into the next breakdown portion (again, I can't write about it — it says it right in my contract) and raised his OPS from 601 on May 9 to 722 by June 7. Brantley's career as a starter was coding, the defrib paddles were out, being rubbed together, all that, and then, suddenly he sat bolt upright and started hitting the ball, right there in the hospital room.
Brantley will likely finish the season as the Indians starter in center, contingent on what the plan is for Grady Sizemore for whatever period of the season he can remain healthy, and Brantley's probably even money to enter next season as the center fielder of choice. MB's looked like a reserve, at best, a lot in his career and he deserves a lot of credit for getting to a place where he seems like the Indians best options in center, even if he's benefitting from a lack of competition.
ARE YOU SEEING THIS?: On June 3, with Hafner making it clear he needed to use up his vacation time and Casey Kotchman mired deeply in being Casey Kotchman, the Indians brought up Matt LaPorta, assumedly to fill in some at 1B and DH; maybe he'd even get a look in LF with Duncan's recent struggles? LaPorta started at 1B on the June 5, went 1-3, started at DH on the sixth, went 0-4, and then did not play again before being sent down on June 13. I recognize that this was during a swing through the NL, meaning no DH at-bats were available.
I just wanted to point out, if you need any more evidence, that the Matt LaPorta thing has changed. When you're brought up for ten days and you only get seven at-bats, it means your boss does't think enough of your developmental trajectory to worry about jerking you around. Granted, LaPorta's 27 and blah blah blah, but using him as a stopgap for ten days represents a different approach from what I can recall.
OLD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS:After starting the season scuffling, an ominous continuation of his poor 2011, Choo turned back into Choo, going .327/.415/.469 over the month. The man is again a joy to watch. His resurgent stretch coincided with Manny Acta inserting Choo into the leadoff, a move that has worked out nicely. As the first batter of a game, Choo is now OPS'ing 1369. Incidentally, do you remember who was in the leadoff prior to our South Korean hero? Johnny Damon. That was weird, right?
BAD NEWS IS BAD NEWS: Masterson: 17:27 BB:K, 4.97 ERA; Jimenez: 21:18 BB:K, 7.00 ERA; Lowe: 8:14 BB:K, 5.14 ERA; Gomez: 15:14 BB:K, 6.31 ERA; Tomlin: 5:15 BB:K, 5.40 ERA.
Yep, that was your rotation.
OTHER MOMENTS WE LIVED:Chris Perez yelled at us, some people yelled back, Chris Perez kept recording saves; Nick Hagadone was good, for a second; the Indians walked off against Brandon League, again; Jack Hannahan went on the DL (did you notice?); and, finally, Juan Diaz made his major league debut.
AND A PERSONAL NOTE: In February, I started a new job, one that's consumed a lot of time. I'm also getting married on September 1 (this is not a request for you to congratulate me — though, seriously, that's very nice of you. Stop, stop. You think I'll look great? That's sweet.) Suffice to say, time has been at a premium for me and I have not had a lot of time to spend around LGT. I hope to carve some out in the coming months, and I wanted everyone to know that I miss the community and that I've read the nice things you've occasionally written about me — I think Jay said I looked like James Franco during the early season, which has really stuck with me. I want to have some fun writing for this site over the next few months and I'm optimistic I can do that. I'll also try to tweet more, for all you sickos who are into that.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? WILL OUR HEROES TURN OFF THE LASER IN TIME?: Oh, come off it. This is an after the fact recap of thirty games that happened sixty games ago.