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Friday, May 16, 2008

Tribe: Now that the scoreless streak's over, what to do about those bats?

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Aaron Laffey gave up the run that ruined the Tribe's scoreless streak.
It had to come to an end eventually, but hot damn was it fun while it lasted. In completing a streak over the Oakland Elephants yesterday, Aaron Laffey also gave up a run -- of the unearned variety, on an error of his making -- which ended the Indians starting pitchers’ scoreless streak at an astounding and historic 44.1 innings. (They still haven’t given up an earned run in the last six games – that’s 50.1 innings.) The last time a group of starting hurlers completed such a feat? The 1974 Baltimore Orioles. Yeah, the Tribe has been that damn good. So good, in fact, that Aaron Laffey, sporting a nifty 1.53 ERA, will be sent back down to Buffalo when Jake Westbrook is back in the rotation. That’s depth. ... Streaks are great. There was a time in college where I went to the bar for something like 57 days in a row – a feat as impressive as it was expensive. I was proud of it and wanted to tell everyone about it. Unfortunately, there was a concurrent streak which was hidden by my jaundiced skin and bloodshot eyes – I hadn’t been to class in nearly as long. The Tribe’s pitching streak has a similar seedy underbelly that has been hidden, or at least overshadowed, in the mess of zeros. That is why when Aaron Laffey gave up that run, it sucked, but I was secretly happy. Before yesterday’s start, the previous seven days saw the Tribe arms (including the bullpen) amass a team ERA of 1.43 (1st in the AL), a 3.14 K/BB ratio (2nd in the AL), a miniscule 1.03 WHIP (1st in the AL), and that whole scoreless innings thing (Completely awesome). Tribe pitchers (with the notable exception of Rafael Betancourt who has been doing his best impression of Eric Gagne) = Good. In that same seven day span, though, Tribe hitters swung their bats as if their lineup consisted of nine Jason Michaels. (That’s actually a recurring nightmare of mine). The damage: .211 BA (Last in AL), .276 OBP (Last in AL), and a .359 SLG (10th in AL). First in pitching, last in hitting. Somewhere, Tom Emanski’s head just exploded. Take yesterday’s game, which saw the Tribe squander not one, not two, but three different innings with a man on third base and less than two outs without scoring a single run. That was preceded on Wednesday by Jhonny Peralta grounding into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and nobody out, precipitating yet another scoreless inning in which a team of pigs – actual bat-wielding swine -- could have scored, but the Wahoos couldn’t. Sure, the Tribe now resides in first place in the Central Division and is three games over .500 for the first time all season. But what is more likely to happen first? The Indians pitchers return to Earth from planet Feller? Or the Indians hitters start to resemble anything close to major leaguers at the plate? I’m guessing it’ll be the former. The Tribe arms could continue to be the best staff in the American League, which they clearly have the potential to do, but with a .211/.276/.359 offensive line, how many 3-2, 2-1, and 1-0 losses are in this team’s short-term future? – Vince the Polack


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