The Indians continued their hot tour of April with a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles this weekend, and how great was it to see Grady Sizemore back in center field? Grady made his return memorable hitting a home run in his second at-bat and following it up with a double in his next. Who would have predicted that an April series between the Indians and Royals would see the winner come out with sole possession of the American League Central? Furthermore, who could have predicted the Twins in the basement after their success last year? Whoever comes out of this series the winner may have the lead in the central, but these two teams will rekindle their battle in just five days from their last meeting in Cleveland.
April 18-21, 2011
- Cleveland – The Indians are coming off of their third sweep of the season and appear to only be getting better with the addition of Grady Sizemore to the lineup. From the looks of things, Grady will resume his place in center field while Michael Brantley will make the shift to left. The Tribe is off to their best start since 2004 and hasn’t opened 12-4 since 1999. This team is winning the games that it should be winning, the ones against struggling opponents and games that they have the lead in. I’m still not sure what I’m more surprised at, the way the starting pitching has been (especially considering the rebound that Fausto Carmona and Carlos Carrasco have had) or the amount of pop in the lineup. I thought this team was one year away, but did think they would turn some heads this year. See here..
- Kansas City – The only team that I may be more surprised to see vying for the top spot in the American League Central is the Kansas City Royals. Last year it was the Indians and Royals battling to see who will remain out of the cellar. Fast-forward eight months and it’s Cleveland and Kansas City duking it out for supremacy. The Royals fell 3-2 to the Mariners for the first time in five games. They will be looking to rebound as they return home to a place where they have found success. This season the Royals are 7-3 at Kauffman Stadium. In that loss to the Mariners they compiled a season low five hits, and for just the third time in this young season, Billy Butler was held hitless.
Game 1: Carlos Carrasco vs. Kyle Davies
- Carlos Carrasco 1-1, 5.03 ERA
Carrasco walked away with a no-decision on Wednesday on the road against the Angels after allowing three runs on five hits over seven innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked two in his second quality start in a row.
- Kyle Davies 1-1, 9.00 ERA
Davies’ ERA stayed on its run-an-inning pace, an even 9.00, after he gave up five runs in five innings to the Twins last Wednesday. Davies had one bad inning that hurt him, in which he gave up six hits.
Game 2: Jeanmar Gomez vs. Bruce Chen
- Jeanmar Gomez 0-0, -.– ERA
Gomez made 11 starts for the Tribe last season as a 22-year old rookie. Off to a hot start at Triple-A Columbus, the righty is expected to make his 2011 Major League debut on Tuesday in the rotation spot vacated by Mitch Talbot.
- Bruce Chen 2-0, 2.37 ERA
Chen has had back-to-back stellar outings, going six shutout innings to beat the Tigers and eight innings with one unearned run to beat the Mariners for a rain-shortened complete game. He works the ball around and throws strikes – something that can be overlooked.
Game 3: Justin Masterson vs. Luke Hochevar
- Justin Masterson 3-0, 1.33 ERA
Masterson continued his early-season tear on Friday, limiting the Orioles to one run over seven innings. The righty threw 73 percent of his pitches for strikes and notched a first-pitch strike to 20 of the 26 batters he faced.
- Luke Hochevar 2-1, 4.21 ERA
Hochevar has back-to-back wins and his last one was impressive. He held Seattle to just one run and one hit, by Ichiro Suzuki, over seven innings. Hochevar also retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced after the run scored.
Game 4: Josh Tomlin vs. Sean O’Sullivan
- Josh Tomlin 3-0, 2.75 ERA
Tomlin battled some command issues, but still managed to log a strong six-inning outing against the Orioles on Saturday. The righty allowed two runs — both on solo homers — on six hits with four strikeouts in a 79-pitch effort.
- Sean O’Sullivan 1-1, 5.00 ERA
Put in the rotation when No. 5 starter Vin Mazzaro stumbled in a Minors tuneup, O’Sullivan posted five shutout innings last Saturday vs. the Mariners. He dodged ably around five hits and two walks, making 84 pitches.
1. CF Grady Sizemore
2. SS Asdrubal Cabrera
3. RF Shin-Soo Choo
4. C Carlos Santana
5. DH Travis Hafner
6. LF Michael Brantley
7. 2B Orlando Cabrera
8. 1B Matt LaPorta
9. 3B Jack Hannahan
1. 2B Chris Getz
2. CF Melky Cabrera
3. DH Billy Butler
4. RF Jeff Francoeur
5. 1B Kila Ka’aihue
6. 3B Mile Aviley
7. LF Mitch Maier
8. C Matt Treanor
9. SS Alcides Escobar