In a battle of who could be the most cellar-dwellar-y, the Royals struck early and often, underperforming the Indians on every front: starting pitching, offense and relief pitching. I realize we're down on the Tribe right now and I don't mean to poke fun at the great Royals fans that exist on the blogosphere but I'm not at all convinced that the Indians approach the Royals in terms of present ineptitude or future bleakness. The Royals looked bad and, more than that, there's not a lot about them that I'd want to watch with an eye to the future.
The Indians got one of their best all-around efforts of the year, with Jake Westbrook making his third quality start and earning his first win. The offense took the pressure off Jake early, posting him to a 4-1 lead after the fourth inning, getting two runs each from Russell Branyan's first homer of the year and and a key double from Jhonny Peralta. Jake worked in and out of trouble all night but his all-time barometer, groundouts, showed up in numbers they hadn't all year, finishing at a 14:2 GO:AO.
Once Brian Bannister had left after sixth, the Indians put the game out of reach by stomping all over the only bullpen in the Central that can reasonably be called worse than the Tribe's. Royals relievers surrendered four more runs, including a second homerun for Branyan (off Joakim Soria, no less). Trey Hillman was run after arguing a close call on a double steal in the 7th but replays showed that Sizemore had beaten the tag at third.
A few other notes:
- If you cherry-pick, the Indians are starting to look like a decent offensive team. Over their last 11 games, the Indians have scored 52 runs. That's approaching respectability.
- Austin Kearns is OPSing .954. The last time he started this hot was...last year, more or less. In fact, Kearns has started on a torrid pace a few times in his career.
- The Indians have played a relatively difficult schedule: only two of their opponents have sub .500 records at this point (the Angels and the White Sox). If there was ever a time for this team to "get well" (and if there was even a point), it would be now. Before the Tribe closes out May with a series in New York, they finish up with the Royals, travel to Baltimore, play two in Tampa, and then see Kansas City, Cincinnati, and the White Sox at home.
- Last year, in his career year to date, Branyan tended to bunch homers together. So, perhaps it's time to buckle up for a week.
- Jake Westbrook just won his first game since April 8, 2008.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Jhonny Peralta||.152||Asdrubal Cabrera||-.068|
|Austin Kearns||.104||Shin-Soo Choo||-.045|