Austin Adams Flops in Debut

On July 12, rookie Austin Adams became the first Indians pitcher to allow three or more runs while record one or fewer outs since Sean DePaula in 1999 (four runs, one out). In the last 100 years, only three others accomplished the feat: Tom Kramer in 1991 (three runs, zero outs), Gene Bearden in 1947 (three runs, one out) and Doc Hamann in 1924 (six runs, zero outs).

Here we go again: the annual Tony Sipp collapse

Here’s how Tony Sipp‘s season goes. He’s dominant. He melts down. Then he’s dominant again.

Sipp could be in for rough stretch

In 2009 Sipp had a 2.77 ERA through his first 15 appearances and opponents were batting just .122 off him. Over his next six games, Sipp was horrendous, posting a 16.20 ERA with an opponents BA of .412. After settling down, Sipp made 25 more appearances over rest the season, with an ERA of 1.14 down the stretch.

In 2010 it was more of the same. Through his first 21 games Sipp had an ERA of 1.40. He then gave up 11 runs in his next three outings and over his next 27 games he had an ERA of 8.61. But once again Sipp settled down, posting an ERA of 1.74 in his final 22 appearances.

And here we go again in 2011… Sipp was nearly unhittable through his first eight appearances, but melted down last night against the Royals. If history tells us anything, he’s due for a rough month of May before he regains his confidence and morphs back into the elite 8th-inning setup man that he has the potential to be.

Recapping the season through 10 games

A few notes on the first 1/16th of the season…

  • Asdrubal Cabrera is the 11th Indian in the Jacobs Field era with four homers through 10 games (Travis Hafner is the only one to have done it twice). The others are a fairly predictable crew, but one name did stand out: Kevin Mitchell. While he only hit four homers in his 20-game Indians career, all four of them came in the first 10 games of the 1997 season.
  • Cabrera is also the first shortstop with four homers through 10 games since Woodie Held hit five back in 1960.
  • The Tribe pitching staff has tossed two shutouts through 10 games for the first time since 1991. That year they blanked Boston in consecutive games (once by a 1-0 score, just like this year). Tom Candioitti and Charles Nagy were the starters, yet neither tossed a complete game. The 1-0 victory was a 13-inning affair in which Steve Olin picked up the win while tossing 3 2/3 innings of scoreless/hitless ball in relief.
  • The Plain Dealer erroneously reported today (shocker) that Chris Perez and Tony Sipp are the first Indians relievers to toss at least one inning of scoreless ball in each of their first five appearances of the season since Paul Shuey in 2000. In reality Fernando Cabrera (2007) and Bob Wickman (2001) have each accomplished the feat more recently than Shuey.
  • Perez and Sipp are, however, the first pair of Indians to accomplish that feat in the same season since Clint Brown and Joe Heving in 1941.

Tribe wins on squeeze

Thursday’s win over the Red Sox was all kinds of awesome. Not only do they send the Red Sox to their worst winless start since 1945, but they do so in 1-0 fashion on an Asdrubal Cabrera suicide squeeze. How can you beat that?!

Here are some fun notes on the day:

  • The Indians were the first team to successfully execute a squeeze in a 0-0 game in the 8th inning or later since Aug. 26, 2000, when Jerry Hairston of the Orioles laid down a squeeze to score former Indian Trinidad Hubbard from 3rd. They would go on to win 2-0 over the Devil Rays.
  • They’re also the first team to win 1-0 on a squeeze play in their last at-bat since the Seattle Mariners on May 19, 1983 against the Angels. Jamie Allen laid down a bunt, scoring Julio Cruz from 3rd. I did some searching on Google to verify that it was a squeeze and was able to find the AP story. Pretty cool stuff.
  • And here’s one you’re not going to believe. The last Indian to lay down a squeeze in a 0-0 game? Albert Belle. In the 1st inning on July 9, 1994 against the Twins, Belle laid down a squeeze to score Kenny Lofton. The Tribe would go on to win 4-3. Here’s the AP article on that game.

High scoring start to the season

Through three games this season the Indians have scored 20 runs and allowed 24 – just the third time in franchise history both totals have been over 20 this early in the season.

The last time was the glorious year of 1995, when the Indians opened up the year with an 11-6 win over the Rangers, followed by a 10-9 loss and a 6-5 loss.

In 1936 they took a less-conventional route to the 20/20 mark. The Tribe lost 3-0 on opening day behind Mel Harder, then followed that up with 14-7 win over the Tigers and a 13-10 extra-inning victory over the Browns.

In both 1995 and 1936 the Tribe finished with a winning record. Hope that’s a sign of things to come. (doubtful.)

Indians starters off to historically bad start

Through the first two games of the season Fausto Carmona and Carlos Carrasco have allowed a combined 17 earned runs. It’s the first time since 1950 that a team’s starting pitcher allowed 7+ earned run in each of its first two games of the season. That year the Red Sox and Yankees beat each other up, as all four starters involved in the first two games allowed at least seven runs.

On a positive note, Jack Hannahan has driven in runs in each of his first two games with the Tribe. If he drives in another one today he’ll be the first player with RBI in his first three games in an Indians uniform since Eduardo Perez (four straight) in 2006. Prior to Perez, you have to go back to Gomer Hodge in 1971.

Opening Day notes

  • Carlos Santana was back in the lineup batting cleanup, a rare slot for a 24-year-old catcher. Since 1919 (as far back as baseball-reference game finder goes) only four other catchers have batted cleaning on opening day for the Tribe (Victor Martinez did so three times). And perhaps more noteworthy, Santana is the youngest catcher to bat cleanup in his team’s season opener since Hall of Famer Gary Carter in 1978.
  • Fausto Carmona‘s 10 earned runs allowed set a Tribe record for opening day (since 1919, of course). It’s also the most allowed by any pitcher in his team’s opener since Early Wynn, pitching for the Senators, allowed 10 to the Yankees in 1948. It was his final year in Washington before joining the Tribe. [Update: according to The Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN) Carmona was the first pitcher in baseball history to allow 10 runs in three innings or less on opening day.]
  • Jack Hannahan became just the 3rd Indians No. 9 hitter to go deep on opening day (since 1919) joining Ron Pruitt (1978 vs Royals) and Bob Lemon (1953 vs White Sox).

Historically bad season for Marson, Valbuena

Just came across this stat from last season that blew my mind…

Entering 2010 the Indians hadn’t had a player bat under .200 with at least 275 plate appearances since 1917 (Joe Evans and Steve O’Neill).

That streak came to a screeching halt last year when both Lou Marson and Luis Valbuena hit under .200 – the first time a team had two players to accomplish the feat since the 1988 Dodgers (who, amazingly, still managed to win the World Series).

Marson’s poor numbers weren’t all that unusual for a catcher, but Valbuena’s stats were rare. Over the past 20 seasons only two other non-catchers with at least 300 PA posted an average under .200 and a slugging percentage under .300 – David Bell (’99 Phillies) and Lance Blankenship (’93 A’s).

Albert Belle’s Return to Cleveland

As you might have heard, today is kind of a big day for Cleveland sports fan.

But the player who took his talents to South Beach wasn’t the first to betray us.

Following the 1996 season, Albert Belle took his talents to the Windy City under similar circumstances. He wasn’t exactly a hometown hero, but we respected him when the rest of baseball hated him. He was a jerk, but he was our jerk. And like Dan Gilbert with his former star, Indians Owner Dick Jacobs was willing to pay to keep Belle in Cleveland. So when he left for a marginally larger contract, it hurt.

And so his return to Cleveland, on June 3, 1997, was almost as anticipated as tonight’s game between the Cavs and Heat.

Chad Ogea took the mound for the Tribe that day, getting the first crack at Belle. Much to the fans dismay, Ogea didn’t plunk Belle with his first pitch, but did induce an inning-ending fly out in the 1st inning.

In the bottom of the 1st, as if remind fans that a new power hitter was hear to fill Belle’s shoes, Jim Thome homered off Danny Darwin, his first of two in the game.

But not to be outdone by Cleveland’s new hero, Belle responded with a three-run shot in the 5th, knocking Ogea out of the game.

Belle would double off Danny Graves in the 8th and again off Eric Plunk in the 9th, as his White Sox cruised to a 9-5 win.

As a player often fueled by anger, Belle’s successful return really should have come as no surprise. He thrived under those conditions, which contributed to our love for him for so many years in Cleveland. He was simply clutch.

But we got the last laugh with Belle. Over the next four seasons Belle’s team would go a combined 6-15 in Cleveland. Belle would hit just .241 as a visitor in Jacobs Field, with his only home run coming in his return to the The Jake.

Oh, and most importantly, he never won a damn thing without us 🙂

The Curse of Victor Martinez?

Only one player in baseball history has ever hit 50+ home runs with the Tribe, and then gone on to hit 50+ home runs with the Tigers.

That man, of course, was Rocky Colavito.

But after signing a 4-year $50M deal with the Tigers, it appears that Victor Martinez will soon join him.

Two other players have accomplished the feat in reverse – 50 HR in Detroit, followed by 50 in Cleveland: Vic Wertz and Travis Fryman.