Part of the objective of this road trip, which included a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, was to see baseball games in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Last night, my wife, her aunt and her uncle went to Progressive Field to see the struggling Cleveland Indians take on the now (under manager Buck Showalter) white-hot (if you can describe a team that is 40-74 as white-hot) Baltimore Orioles. Some might argue my previous statement about how hot the O’s are, but they have won 4 games in a row and are 8-1 under Showalter. Clearly, the change of manager has fired up the O’s. Will it continue? Probably not as the Orioles have to play the Rays and the Rangers in the next two weeks. But it will be fun while it lasts for any O’s fan who has had to endure an otherwise wretched season.
Indians fans haven’t had much to cheer about either, as the Tribe has a 47-67 record, and appears to have thrown in the towel on the season. Just before the trade deadline, the Tribe traded away one of their best starters (Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals), one of their best power bats (Austin Kearns to the Yankees) and their closer (Kerry Wood to the Yankees). Last night was a display of two teams that appear to be headed in opposite directions, and the game only served to illustrate that point further.
The Orioles banged out 13 hits against Josh Tomlin and the Cleveland bullpen; however, they were only able to plate three runs. You might say the O’s scattered their 13 hits, and that would be pretty accurate. There was little drama in the game, aside from Orioles’ starter Brad Bergesen taking a no-hitter into the 5th. Usually, when I go to games between teams that I don’t really care about, I root for the home team, but I was cheering for Bergesen to continue his no hit bid. The Indians looked lifeless, though they did manufacture a run with one walk, one hit and two productive outs in the 5th. In the end, Bergesen pitched a complete game, two-hitter, and won his first game in three months. Nothing like playing the Tribe to help your stats. Prior to last night’s game, Bergesen had an ERA over 6, but has pitched well in his last three starts (23 innings, only 4 earned runs).
The Orioles have a decent offense, with the likes of Luke Scott, Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Ty Wigginton, but their pitching has been suspect for most of the season, ranking 28th in ERA. If the O’s can get consistent pitching for the rest of the season, which is a big if, they could make trouble for playoff hopefuls. The Tribe on the other hand looks like a team without direction. They are clearly geared toward a youth movement, but many of the players don’t appear to be ready for prime time. Half of the Indian lineup is made up of players with batting averages of less than .240. You aren’t going to win many games when that is the case. The only player who would be a starter on most other teams is Shin-Soo Choo. Choo is a nice player, but he certainly cannot carry the team. Carlos Santana, their best offensive prospect, went down following a gruesome collision at the plate against the Red Sox and will not play again this season. The injury could be a major problem for Santana, as knee injuries for catchers tend to make staying behind the plate even more difficult. The Tribe has a recent tradition of being a contender. Perhaps if Santana can regain his health and the rest of the Tribe’s kids can mature, they might have a shot at making a run in the next few seasons in the AL Central (though the Twins will be tough to beat).
The true focus of the trip to see the game was to see Progressive Field. Consistently voted one of the best ballparks in MLB, it did not disappoint. The sight lines are excellent, Heritage Park (the Indians’ Hall of Fame) was beautiful, and the concessions were yummy. I highly recommend the bratwurst. The Jake is truly a gem and I hope that the Tribe can build a team that will once again fill the stadium.