Victory… sweet, sweet victory. This is starting to go beyond just a cute little feel good story. This is starting to feel like something with a lot more substance.
The Indians topped the Royals last night in extra innings, 7-3, but the game was a lot closer than that final score indicates. It also caused me to run through a gauntlet of emotions; from cocky and arrogant when the Indians got ahead to nervous and on edge when they fell behind and the Royals threatened to bust it open. By the time the game was finally over I was spent.
With the victory the Indians improved their ever ballooning record to 12-4, tied with Colorado for the best record in the major leagues. Unfortunatelty they don’t get the attention that the Rockies do. The Rockies lead off Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter. Meanwhile, the Indians are an after thought and every conversation ends with “for now” or “this obviously won’t last.” Ladies and gentlemen… ESPN! It also gives the Tribe a 2 game cushion for first place in the division. I’m at a loss for words trying to comprehend just how incredible this has been so far and how the Indians are doing it.
Once again, the Indians received a terrific pitching performance from the starting rotation. Carlos Carrasco, who appears to be gaining more confidence with each and every start, pitched a solid 6.1 innings allowing only 3 runs on 7 hits while striking out 4 and walking 1. It marks the 14th straight game in which the Indians as a staff have allowed fewer than 4 runs. It also adds to the quality start total for the Indians, a statistic they have dominated so far this year. However, Carrasco wasn’t alone. Vinnie Pestano, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, and Justin Germano combine to throw 3.2 innings worth of no hit baseball. Smith picked up the victory, reaping the benefits of the Indians 4 run explosion in the 10th.
The story of the game for the second straight day had to be the resurrgence of Grady Sizemore. In his second game back from microfracture surgery Sizemore went 3-5 with another double, RBI, and run scored. He looks good. He looks real good. Seriously, who saw this coming? Anyone? Anyone at all? I know it’s only two games, but I never would have thought Sizemore would come out swinging like this. I assumed it would be a gradual reacclimation to major league pitching. After all, this is a player who hasn’t seen live major league pitching in a game that means something in about 11 months. It’s encouraging, especially since it provides another bat in a lineup that is leading the league in scoring. Yes, they’re leading the league in scoring and both Choo and Santana are hitting as well as a 5 year old girl right now. If Grady is back, and I mean really back, then that’s a game changer.
One last point to be made about the Indians has to be the job Manny Acta has done thus far. Everything he seems to touch turns to gold. He’s managed the bullpen and starting rotation masterfully. He’s played the hit and run and suicide squeeze to perfection. He’s even found a way to insert the right pinch hitters at the right time against the right pitchers. Last night he pinch hit Shelley Duncan. All Duncan did was reward Acta with the go ahead RBI double. Everyone can go on and on about how well the players are playing, but it’s only because Acta has put them in a position to succeed. Even his building of the core starting lineup has been spot on. If he can keep this up I fully expect the Indians to continue on their winning ways.
The Indians will look to continue their domination as they play game two of their four game series tonight at 8:10.