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Camino: Ten Thoughts on Indians Opening Series

Camino: Ten Thoughts on Indians Opening Series

(TORONTO) – The Cleveland Indians dropped the final game of their season-opening three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday night losing 10-8 at the Rogers Centre. However, the Tribe still managed to escape Canada with a series victory winning on Opening Night 4-1 and Wednesday evening 3-2 in 11 innings.

I was on hand for all three games in Toronto and here are just a few of the things I pondered while covering the entire series.

Below are ten quick thoughts on the Tribe’s opening series in Toronto:

1. Winning formula: Not so much in the series-finale, but the Indians blue print for winning was on display in the first two games of the three-game set. The Tribe received two quality starts from both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez and the bullpen did the rest. Yes, Chris Perez did make a mistake in the ninth inning of the middle game to Jose Bautista, but for the most part the bullpen really did a nice job. Even Perez was solid after giving up the homer to get the game to extra innings. So what’s the recipe for victories? Hope the Indians starting pitcher can go six strong innings, let the trio of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Perez take over the rest of the way. In the meantime, scoring runs does not appear to be a problem with this group.

2. Noticeable defense: It might be a small sample-size, but three games was enough to show that this Indians baseball team will be very good defensively. The speed of Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs was evident in the outfield, while the infield showed it probably will not even miss Jack Hannahan or Casey Kotchman who were tremendous with their gloves. Speed in the outfield is crucial for any club, but Tribe fans and pitchers will definitely enjoy having three center fielders track down balls for them.

Up atop the Rogers Centre in Toronto where the Indians opened up the 2013 season taking 2-out-of-3 from the Blue Jays. Photo courtesy Nick Camino

3. Bottom of the order: The fact that the Tribe’s 7-8-9 hitters are Mark Reynolds, Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs shows just how talented this lineup can be this season. Some believe Reynolds should be higher in the order, but the 7-hole allows the slugger to provide pop for the bottom half while not costing the Tribe too many rallies if he happens to strike out. Hitting lower in the lineup does not carry much pressure and the quickness of Stubbs in the 9-hole gives the Indians a “second lead-off”. Chisenhall can focus on not doing too much while still having an opportunity to drive in runs. This is a much better lineup than a year ago and because of it, you will see this team score more runs.

4. Dr. Smooth: Love his approach and love the way he is continuing to swing the bat. Brantley was hot during spring camp and it has carried into the regular season. Will he continue to hit over .800 this season? Of course not; but having him hit in the 5-hole re-sets the Tribe’s lineup in the middle of the order and he is definitely a guy who can drive in runs despite lacking extreme home run power. I still feel like power will come for Brantley…but for now, driving the ball to all parts of the field will do for the young left fielder.

5. Struggles for Myers: If I begin to panic on April 4 about a pitcher, something is wrong with me…seriously. However, with that said, veteran right-hander Brett Myers carried his poor spring into his first outing Thursday night at the Rogers Centre. Myers pitched five innings, allowing seven hits and seven runs, while not recording a strikeout and walking two. Did I mention that the Blue Jays belted four moonshot bombs off of him? It’s only one outing, but the pattern that began showing in spring training with Myers has carried into the regular season…at least for now.

Brett Myers struggled in his 2013 Indians debut similar to how he struggled during spring training. Photo courtesy Cleveland Indians

6. Arguing: Terry Francona went out to argue a call at second base in the fourth inning of Thursday’s loss to the Blue Jays. Jose Reyes stole second base but it appeared Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had tagged him out. After a brief chat with the umpire Francona retreated back to the Indians dugout. That is something Tribe fans did not see much of with former manager Manny Acta and it bothered players on the team more than I ever realized until after he had been fired.

7. Crazy currency: OK, this thought has nothing to do with baseball. The Canadian currency has me all confused. So confused I can’t wait to get back to the United States. Talk about confusing! Some people love American money here, some people hate American money. Some cab drivers take American money, some do not. It is very odd. Ever seen a $2 coin? Oh, they have them. It’s named after a duck! I’m terrified to use my cell phone and my credit card too. God Bless America! Get me outta here!

8. Expensive town:  Oh another thing…since when did Toronto get mixed up for New York City?!?! The prices here are outrageous. I would never be confused for somebody cheap, but at the same time I will admit some of these prices are outrageous. $17 for a hamburger at lunch? $25 to park for 20 minutes or less? Yeah, that is what you will see in Toronto. Again, God Bless America.

9. Now to St. Petersburg: The next stop for the Tribe is St. Petersburg, Fla. where they will play a three-game weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays. I have written and talked at length about the beginning of this Indians schedule…it truly is a brutal measuring stick for this bunch. Having to play 13 straight games before an off day coupled with the fact that the contests are with the Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, White Sox and Red Sox makes the beginning of the 2013 schedule very tough. One win at Tropicana Field would lock up a .500 road trip for the Tribe and in Major League Baseball winning as many on the road as you lose is always acceptable. A 3-3 record heading into the home opener vs. New York would be great…anything better would be icing on the cake.

10. Good series: Overall a very good series for the Indians here in Toronto. The Blue Jays appear to be a strong baseball team and the Tribe was able to take 2-of-3 in the opening three-game set. Heck, despite falling behind in the series-finale they gave themselves an opportunity to win the game before falling 10-8. A fine opening act for the Wahoos, we’ll see if that consistent play continues as the month of April rolls on.

- Nick Camino

 

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