1 Down 161 More to Go…

Well… there’s two ways to look at what happened yesterday afternoon.  Either the Indians got their faces caved in, or they got down early, by a lot mind you, and found a way to battle back.  I have a feeling that everyone in Cleveland is going to want to focus in on the former, but there’s reason enough to pay attention to the latter.  Allow me to explain what I mean.

Fausto Carmona was absolutely terrible.  He couldn’t get command of the strike zone, he couldn’t make pitches when he needed to, and most obviously… he just couldn’t get anyone out.  The end result was 3 innings pitched, 11 hits, 10 runs (all earned), and two towering home runs.  Woof.  About the only thing Carmona did right all day was tie his shoes and wear the right uniform combination.

Despite the fact that their ace came out and put them in a 10 run hole, 14 overall by the time the fourth inning was finished, the Indians didn’t roll over and die.  For the first five innings the Indians couldn’t string anything together.  Mark Buehrle was fantastic. He gave up no runs on 2 hits.  Finally in the 6th inning the Indians managed to get to Buehrle tagging him for 4 runs and line drive after line drive.  By the time the 7th inning started Buehrle was out of the game and the White Sox bench was in the game.  It was at that point the comeback was on.  They scored 3 more runs in the 7th, 2 in the eighth, and tagged on another in the 9th.  It wasn’t enough to bring them back, but it really showed me something.

By not rolling over and dying after giving up 14 runs the Indians proved that there is some fight in them.  This team might not win many games and they might not compete for a playoff spot, but they sure as hell are going to fight until the very last out.  That’s something that’s been missing over the past few seasons.  How many times have we watched the Tribe get down early and just slip, slide, and sputter their way to an ugly loss.  Not this time.  This ended up being fun.  Never thought I’d call a loss fun, but that’s exactly what it was.  It seemed out of the realm of possibility at the time that a comeback could happen, but once the Tribe cut the lead in half in the matter of two innings it seemed possible.

This only helps confirm what I’ve been saying over the past week and a half leading up to yesterday.  The 2011 Indians won’t win a lot of games, but they might just be too young and stupid (for lack of a better term) to realize that.  I’m sure they’ve read the papers and heard all the talk in the national and local media.  They’re out to prove everyone else wrong.  Shin-Soo Choo said as much when he declared the goal for this team is to win the central and make the playoffs.  I don’t know about all that, but they’re sure as hell going to give it a shot.

Moving on…

What are some other positives to take from yesterday’s drubbing?

  • Jack Hannahan… I owe that man an apology.  I’m not changing my tune saying he’s the answer for the Indians third baseman woes for the next decade, but what a debut he had.  Three hits in five at bats including a home run and three runs scored.  He also made every play on every ball hit to him.  That an accomplishment considering how things went at third base last year.  I’m curious to see how this is going to play out, especially with Chisenhall waiting in the wings.
  • Carlos Santana started off this season right where he left off last year before he got hurt, mashing baseballs.  Three for five, 2 runs scored and three RBI.  Not too shabby.  It was exactly what the Indians need in the middle of the line up if they want to do anything this year worth paying attention to.
  • Travis Hafner hit the ball hard… like really hard… like circa 2006 Pronk hard.  Two hits, one of which should have been a 2 RBI double if not for Shin-Soo Choo’s base running blunder, and 2 RBI total.  If Pronk can keep that going and keep hitting the ball with authority it completely changes the complexion of the line up.  Apparently the change in Hafner’s hitting stroke is thanks to a change in his stance.  Hafner has completely eliminated his stride towards the pitcher.  It’s hard to argue with the results.  Since the change towards the end of spring, Hafner has looked like Hafner again.  Stay tuned, folks.
  • The Matt LaPorta watch got off to an OK start.  He had two hits in five at bats, but none of them were very memorable.  However, it’s better than an 0-5.  Progress is progress as they say.
  • Frank Herrmann and Vinnie Pestano pitched great out of the bullpen.  One run and three hits with eight strikeouts over three innings is pretty impressive.  Maybe the coaching staff and front office wasn’t crazy when they said the bullpen would be the strength of this team.  Justin Germano also pitched and got off to a rough start taking over an inning for Fausto Carmona that had already gotten out of hand.  But he did follow that one poor inning with two outstanding innings.

And finally…

Great job by the Indians with the pregame festivities to honor the recently deceased Bob Feller.  Opening Day is a celebration in and of itself, but yesterday was reserved for the celebration of Feller’s life and his career.  This was the first time since 1938 that Bob Feller was not physically present for Opening Day in Cleveland.  Think about that for a second.  1938.  I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that amount of time.  He was there in spirit though.  Video montages, memorial banners, photos, and patches were all over the stadium.  The Indians even took part in the pregame festivities by donning Feller’s #19.  The most touching moment of the entire festivities had to be the ceremonial first pitch, or rather, lack there of.

Instead of bringing out a celebrity or politician to put on a jacket or jersey and lob a baseball from in front of the mound, Bob Feller’s wife, Anne, was escorted to the mound by a naval officer and placed a ball onto the rubber.  Written on this ceremonial ball were the words “Bobby keep pitching, Anne.”  It was a touching tribute for a man more highly revered in Indians lore than anyone who has every worn the uniform.  One can’t help but think he was there watching the spectacle unfold and then promptly putting the jinx on both Carmona and Buehrle, because after all… he was the only pitcher to ever throw a no hitter on opening day…

and no other son of a bitch is going to as long as Bob Feller has a say in it…

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