Last Night's Game
With last night's win, the Indians clinched two consecutive series wins to end the first half, and more importantly gained a game in the standings on the Tigers and several of the teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race. They are 1.5 games behind the Tigers, 1 game behind the Yankees, and 1.5 games behind the Orioles. And last night's win set the stage for the Indians to build a 6.5 lead over the Royals if they complete the sweep this afternoon.
The Indians haven't been scoring much over the past two series, but the starting pitching has picked up the slack:
- Ubaldo Jimenez (July 9): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 SO, 2 BB
- Justin Masterson (July 10): 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 SO, 5 BB
- Danny Salazar (July 11): 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 7 SO, 1 BB
- Corey Kluber (July 12): 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8 SO, 3 BB
- Scott Kazmir (July 13): 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 SO, 3 BB
Not surprisingly, the Indians have gone 4-1 over that string of starts.
Al is back with thoughts on Danny Salazar's fantastic MLB debut and the Asdrubal Cabrera trade rumors. I'm of the opinion that you don't trade Cabrera while the Indians are in contention unless you get a player that can help them compete this season. Yes, Asdrubal is not having his best season, but he has a 105 OPS+ at a position that's difficult to offense from. If you trade Cabrera without getting a middle infielder in return, then you're back to carrying Juan Diaz on the roster, and although Diaz is hitting better, that weakens your bench and opens you up to the risk of having to play Mark Reynolds at third or Diaz becoming an everyday player if someone gets hurt. But I do admit that the prospect of grabbing Carlos Martinez or Trevor Rosenthal is tempting, especially for the future. A 2014 rotation including some combination of Masterson, McAllister, Kluber, Martinez/Rosenthal, Bauer, and Salazar is a nice rotation indeed.
With CC Lee up with the major-league club, Francisco Lindor will the Tribe's only representative, but he alone is well worth the time. He is not in the starting lineup (Boston's Xander Bogaerts gets the nod), but should replace Bogaerts in the middle innings. Even though he's only 19, this is already the second time Lindor will appear in this game, and with a promotion to Akron waiting for him early this week, he might not be available to appear in a third Future's Game.
Because Justin Masterson may appear in the All-Star Game, Terry Francona will probably push back his next start a day. Right now there's an open spot for the 23rd, which would either be filled by Zach McAllister (who pitched in Akron last night) or Danny Salazar. Or a pitcher acquired in a trade.
AL Central News
This is the silly trade season, and Jim Bowden has brought his silly game to the table. The Royals are in a position where they probably don't want to do anything rash, but Dayton Moore might not have a job in 2014, so maybe he goes all-in to keep the Royals in contention.
In what will undoubtedly be the first of several trades this month, the White Sox dealt Matt Thornton to the Red Sox this past week. Thornton was a fantastic acquisition by the White Sox from (who else?) the Mariners, and eight years after they gave up a toolsy outfielder for him, they got a toolsy outfielder back for him.
After a brief foray with .500 earlier this season, the Twins have fallen well out of the race. They have two of the best prospects in baseball in Buxton and Sano, but this month they'll undoubtedly be looking to add some young pitching to their organization.
It looks like the Astros aren't trading Altuve after signing him to a lock-up deal that potentially keeps him in Houston through 2019.
This Week's Classic MLB Clip
Kerry Wood strikes out 20 to set an NL record (1998). And this came against the Houston Astros, one of the league's best offenses. Still the best pitching performance I've ever seen.