A Month To Remember: A Look Back On The Tribe In April

By Lindsey Foltin

With one month of baseball already in the books, it’s needless to say nobody thought the Indians would be in the place they’re in today- and that’s first place – In ALL of Major League Baseball. Sure you can still say “it’s early”, and that having the best record in baseball (19-8) is meaningless, but the Tribe is starting to show some serious tell-tale signs that they just might be the real deal.

Going into this season, the fate of the Tribe seemed bleak to many. Will we ever see the old Grady Sizemore again? What can we expect from Pronk? Will this young pitching fall flat on their faces or flourish? What should we expect from Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta? Who will play third base? The laundry list of contingencies and question marks surrounding the club were enough for most fans to call them dead and buried before the season even began. But then something happened. They started winning – a lot. Let’s take a look back at how they’ve got to where they are right now.

Opening Weekend Meltdown

As Opening Day kicked off full of excitement and anticipation, many of us were wondering what to expect from our ace Fausto Carmona. He’s been anything but consistent for Tribe over the past few years, but a solid 2010 season gave us hope he’d be a pretty solid number one starter. Then the White sox lit Carmona up like Clark Griswold’s house on Christmas for 10 runs and 11 hits in three innings. Although the Indians offense sparked a rally in the 6th inning eventually scoring ten runs themselves, the final score of 15-10 wasn’t what stuck in our minds… It was that awful performance by our so-called ace.

The Sox piled it on again the following night, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in two innings against Carlos Carrasco. Although he later recovered and stuck around until the seventh, fans were quickly jumping on the “there’s always next year” bandwagon. The Tribe was able to salvage the sweep, taking game three of the series 7-1 on April third… and that’s where things got interesting…

“Fluke” Sweeps

The Tribe swept the next two series against the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Both sweeps were quickly discounted by many, because the American League Favorite Red Sox were clearly “just off to a bad start”, and the Mariners were… well, the Mariners. Carl Crawford’s batting average was hovering around the dollar amount of the huge $142 million dollar contract he just signed, and Eric Wedge was yet again poorly managing a sub-par squad of Minor Leaguers (with the Exception of Felix Hernandez – who the Indians didn’t face, and Ichiro – who seemed to make up for 90% of the offense against the Tribe in that series). Regardless, you couldn’t help but notice that the Indians pitching was on point, and the bats were extremely hot, outscoring their opponents 32-13 between the two series.

At-Home Recovery

After the Tribe lost the series to the Angels in L.A. (chalk it up to a game full of miscues and filthy pitching by Dan Haren) two games-to-one, they were in need of some good “home cooking”. The Indians didn’t even flinch at the Baltimore Orioles and their hyped-up pitching staff of rookie Zach Britton and former Indians scrub Jeremy Guthrie. It was the Indians pitching staff that was starting to get noticed. Justin Masterson made Britton look like the rookie he is as he gave up only one run in seven innings while Britton gave up five runs in six. Tomlin had a solid outing in the following night, while Fausto Carmona gave a strong performance in the series finale – which was a big day for the Tribe. An old familiar face was back, and he didn’t return to Progressive Field quietly…

Guess Who’s Back

Here’s where “Actavision” or “Wahoo Baseball” really came in to play for me. On Saturday, April 16th, in the post-game presser, the media was grilling Acta about Grady’s return. There had been a buzz over the past few days that Acta had completed his rehab assignment in Akron and Columbus and was ready to play. After playing 20 questions, the only answers Acta would give were “he’s verrrrrry close”, “he will bat anywhere in the lineup one through six” and “he is too talented to be batting in the nine hole”. Grady Sizemore was activated the next day, and to everyone’s surprise, he was leading off. A lot of people had a problem with this (myself included), because we were told the plan was to “ease Grady back in”. In pure Actavision fashion, Sizemore made Manny look like a genius, hitting a homerun in his first at-bat in the majors in nearly a year. He went two-for-four in his first game back, his second hit was a double. Acta must have known something that we didn’t, because Sizemore has been playing out of his mind ever since. Currently batting .340 with 17 hits, eight doubles, four homeruns and nine RBI, it’s safe to say he’s back – and may even be better than we’ve ever seen him.

The Stopper

After a loss on the road to the Royals on April 19th, it was Justin Mastersons turn in the rotation again, and to no one surprise, he picked up his fourth win. After two losses to the Twins in Minnesota, fans wondered if Masterson could again put a stop to the losing streak. After allowing three runs on hits in 6.2 innings pitched, “The Big Nasty” as Acta calls him, picked up his fifth win in as many outings – earning the nickname “The Stopper” by fans for his ability to stop losing streaks.

Home Sweet Home

The Tribes final homestand of April consisted of two crucial divisional series’ against the Royals and Detroit Tigers. After sweeping the Kansas City Royals in three complete blowouts (outscoring them 24-8), many wondered if they would have the same success against the Tigers solid starting pitching and tough as nails closer Joaquin Benoit. After a brutally slow game on April 29th, the Indians were able to rally back from a five-run deficit in the seventh making it a tie ballgame in the ninth. Carlos Santana, who was somewhat struggling offensively found himself playing hero as he crushed a walk-off grand slam to give the Indians a 9-5 victory. When asked if Santana had learned his lesson from the brutal at-bat in KC where he watched three pitches with the bases loaded to lose the game, he replied “Yea, that kind of stuff happens, I’m just happy I could get the win for my team”. Weren’t we all.

In the final game of April, the Indians and Tigers were stuck in a 2-2 lockup that went thirteen innings before Orlando Cabrera hit the walk-off RBI single for the victory.

And there you have it. Eighteen wins in April – a franchise record. A victory on May 1st tied the team’s record of 13 straight home wins, which has yet to end. So with the first month now in the books, are you starting to wonder, is this team for real? Only time will tell…

Follow Lindsey Foltin on Twitter @LindseyBaseball

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2 Comments

  1. Great blog Lindsey! I’ve managed to see 6 games so far, and I’m 5-1 lol. I was attending Monsters playoff games, and missed a few. I have really been impressed with the pitching, though I had high expectations. Carmona had another outstanding performance last night.

    Easily by far the best April in franchise history, usually here in Cleveland, we hope for a .500 start. With the struggles of division favorites Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota, the Indians are 10 games better. It would almost take a major collapse. Activision is catching on, and going strong.

    I think this stretch in May will say a lot. Its a long season, and I’ve never been one to make excuses for winning, I prefer to find comfort, and I support that good feeling through reasoning. Now having started their 2nd West Coast trip, I see them going 4-2.

    May also brings Tampa Bay, Seattle, Cincinnati, and Boston in for visits, with an opportunity to extend the current 13 game home winning streak. Kansas City, Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Toronto road trips conclude the month. I’m looking for no less than 17 victories in the month, and there’s already 1 down.

    Great insight Lindsey, looking forward to hearing, and seeing more from you in the near future.

    Let’s go Tribe!

  2. Quite the recap, Lindsey…You hit the nail on the head. “Actavision” is working right now. I am just enjoying everyday and hoping it will last. I just hope that come July and the Tribe is still there, Mr. Dolan will step up like he has promised he would….We shall see, we shall see…Good job Lindsey….


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