And so ends what could easily be considered one of the strangest road trips we have seen in recent memory. The Indians beat up on the Toronto Blue Jays last night 13-9 in a game that really shouldn’t have been that close. They got out to a 12-0 lead and somehow magically let it almost slip away. But a win is a win and I’ll take it.
The reason this was such an odd road trip was thanks to the seemingly night and day way everything went down. The Indians were either really, really good, or really, really bad. In three losses (2 to Tampa, 1 to Toronto) the Indians scored one run. You read that right, 1 lousy run in three games. In the three wins the Indians scored a combined 26 runs. Like I said, it’s night and day with this team right now… feast or famine.
I’m not willing to go so far as to say I’m worried about what we have seen over the course of the past week and a half, but I think the Indians could be headed down a bad path if they keep doing the things they’ve done of late. The reason the Indians have been so bad in their losses of late has been due to a lack of smart baseball. They haven’t moved runners, they haven’t gotten hits with runners in scoring position, and they haven’t taken advantage of good situations. All of those are the exact same reason why the Indians were so good early on.
Despite everything that’s gone on, there are reasons to be excited. First of all, Carlos Santana might be turning the corner. He’s been hitting the ball well of late thanks to a small tweak in his swing. He’s also drawing an insane amount of walks and scoring runs. Yes, the Indians need Santana to drive in runs, but as long as he remains productive you can forgive his .220 average. Getting Santana going could be just as crucial as acquiring a big bat through a trade.
Second, Matt LaPorta has been better than anyone expected so far this season. Right now he’s batting .255 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. It looks like he’s finally beginning to understand how pitchers are pitching to him and how to make the proper adjustments. The massive home run he hit last night in the 3rd inning was awesome. With Hafner out he needs to crank it up a notch. He also needs to be the big right-handed bat in the line up because, well he is the only real right-handed power threat on the team.
Last, I really like what we’ve seen from Travis Buck since he’s returned from Columbus. Granted, he’s not a true cleanup hitter, but with Travis Hafner out Buck has done a decent job filling in the middle of the order in the clean up spot. Is the 4 hole a place where I would like to see him play regularly? No, Buck is probably better suited for the 6 or 7 spot. He’s hitting for a decent average, .278, and has been scoring runs. When Hafner comes back from his strained oblique I think they should strongly consider keeping Buck and optioning Austin Kearns. Buck has been far more productive.
Anyways, the bizarro road trip has come to an end. The Indians return home tonight to take on the Rangers in a 4 game series between two division leaders. The Rangers aren’t really a surprise. As the defending AL Champs they were expected to compete out west and they’re expected to make another run at the World Series. It’ll be a good test for the Indians, just like every other game during this recent stretch. I think the best case scenario is a split. Anything better than that would be a bonus.