Last NIght's Game
Let's hope that innings like last night's eighth inning are as rare the rest of the way as they were before last night. Thanks to almost historic starting pitching, the eight pitchers in the bullpen have been about as rested as any MLB bullpen can be in early July. Stephen Vogt hit a two-strike pitch off Zach McAllister into a left field, an excellent piece of hitting, but what followed can't be credited to the hitters. Marc Rzepczynski allowed yet another base hit to a right-hander, then walked a left-handed hitter. That set the stage for Bill Butler's double, and thanks to Brandon Moss's error, three scored instead of two. That third run ended up the margin of victory, as Carlos Santana would hit a two-run homer in the eighth to make it a one-run game, but that would be as close as the Indians would get.
The starting pitching was once again fantastic, which gets you frustrated as well as excited. Great pitching is usually more ephemeral than great hitting or great defense, so when you get it, you need to take advantage of it. Instead of breathing down Kansas City's neck, the Indians will at best breathing down .500's neck at the end of the unofficial first half of the season.
There was some good news from the minor-league circuits. Ryan Merritt faced one over the minimum in throwing a seven-inning no-hitter. The left-hander threw just 78 pitches in the seven innings, which was on pace for 100 over 9 innings of work. Maybe call it a Mini Maddux? Merritt hasn't been dominating in his first season in AA, but at least last night he was.
This afternoon (3 PM) the Futures Game will take place. The Indians will be represented by Bradley Zimmer, who is having an outstanding first full season in professional ball (.305/.401/.488, 35 SB, 16 2B, 10 HR). I think there's a very good chance that he'll be going directly up I-71 to Akron after today's game in Cincinnati. He talks here about Francisco Lindor, his stolen base prowess, and his hopes for promotion.
Have a rather wide space on your wall that you'd like to fill with an historic photo? A panoramic photo from the Addie Joss benefit game, the first time the best players from the American League gathered on one field (League Park), is up for auction. If you look close you'll see Ty Cobb in a Cleveland jersey.
Latest 25-man/40-man roster
(click here for embiggened version)
The pitching staff and Jason Kipnis continue to carry this club. The Indians are in a bit of an awkward situation, as they are within striking distance of the second Wild Card, but at the same time, so is most of the American League. Depending on how the next few weeks go, you could see them trade for help now, trade off pieces like David Murphy or Ryan Raburn, or stand pat. The core players are in place for several more years, though it's going to take another year for them to get out from under the Swisher and Bourn contracts.
If I was to choose where the Indians most need an upgrade, it would be in center field. Carlos Gomez would look rather nice in the middle of the order, and he's signed through 2016 to at $9M, a bargain for a player of his caliber. The problem is that the player/contract combination will make trading for him a tall order; Milwaukee would insist on several of the Tribe's best prospects, which at this point would almost have to include Bradley Zimmer, mentioned above. Barring a blockbuster like that, the Indians might just go with youth and call up Tyler Naquin later this summer if Naquin gets hot. Either way I don't see Bourn being the team's starting center fielder much longer, even if he is signed through next year.