It's best not to put too much stock into any one series, much less a single game, but last night's series opener for the Indians against the first place Tigers could not have gone much worse. It was, on paper, the one matchup in which the Tribe had the pitching advantage, but Cleveland's top arm, Justin Masterson was blistered for 6 runs and couldn't survive the 5th inning, while Detroit's 5th starter, Rick Porcello tossed 7 shutout frames. The Indians managed just 6 hits in a 7-0 loss that dropped them 2.5 games back in the Central.
Other Indians links:
Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated's 'The Strike Zone' looked back at Larry Doby, on the 66th anniversary of Doby breaking the color line in the American League (which was Friday). Doby doesn't get nearly the recognition he deserves, when you consider that he went through much the same experience as Jackie Robinson, having to be the pioneer in a different set of cities.
Six writers at ESPN were asked which players should make the AL All-Star team. Jayson Stark showed why you can't trust a Jason who puts a 'Y' into his name, leaving Jason Kipnis off his roster. Only one of the six lists Carlos Santana.
Stephanie Liscio of It's Pronounced "Lajaway" looks at the Indians bullpen, correctly observing that it's no longer a strength for the team.
Mark Emery's notes at MLB.com from Friday include word on Zach McAllister's recovery, Tito Francona reflecting on his experiences as a manager in the 2005 and 2008 All-Star Games, and the Tribe's interest in Cubs pitcher Matt Garza. Speaking of Garza...
Bill Baer of Hardball Talk passes along a report that the Cubs were seeking prospects Jonathan Schoop (SS/2B) and Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP) from Baltimore, in exchange for Garza, before the clubs worked out a separate deal for Scott Feldman.
The Indians could me another suitor for Garza, so it's worth having a sense of what Chicago is looking to get back in exchange. Schoop is playing in AAA already, at the age of just 21, while Rodriguez was promoted to AA last week after having strong success in high-A earlier this year. Each of them is rated as a top five prospect in the Baltimore system. I'd guess they're comparable in value (as a pair) to Danny Salazar and Ronny Rodriguez (or maybeDorssys Paulino).
Is that a package you'd be willing to see the Tribe move for 2 or 3 months of Garza???
Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth presents a nice look at the international free agent system, including its flaws. Cheap owners (led in this instance by Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox) see it as another way of limiting the costs of running a team, the next-best alternative to an international draft, which is what said owners truly covet.
Tony Horwitz has an interesting article at Smithsonian.com on Jackie Mitchell, a female barnstorming star of the 1930s who once struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (but was the fix in???). Baseball was, in many ways, such a different beast than it is today. I always find stories like this from the game's past to be very interesting.
In an effort to help remove the sting from last night's defeat, I give my choices for...
...the Indians' greatest Tiger-killing hitters of the expansion era (1961-present):
6) Albert Belle - 1989-1996, 311 PA, .275/.360/.584. This is about what he did against every team in those years.
5) Shin-Soo Choo - 2006-2012, 333 PA, .307/.399/.516. The Tribe should see about borrowing him for the rest of this series.
4) Pat Tabler - 1983-87, 205 PA, .337/.405/.505. Had a .910 OPS against the Tigers, compared to his .764 OPS overall with the Tribe. He stepped up against Detroit in a big way.
3) Casey Blake - 2003-2008, 383 PA, .300/.395/.566. Had a .960 OPS against the Tigers, compared to his .787 OPS overall with the Tribe. He elevated his play against Detroit even more than Tabler.
2) Manny Ramirez - 1993-2000, 311 PA, .315/.424/.657. These numbers are a tick above Manny's incredible overall hitting production.
1) Jim Thome - 1991-2002 and 2011, 539 PA, .309/.453/.667. He hit 41 home runs against the Tigers as an Indian, more than any other player.