The Cleveland Indians continue to be a resilient bunch.
After a disappointing weekend in Baltimore, losing the last two games to the Orioles after winning the first two, the Tribe went into Minnesota on Monday and swept a day-night doubleheader from the Twins, and now lead the AL Central by one game over Detroit.
This was after getting the news that Grady Sizemore once again injured his right knee and had to be put on the 15 day disabled list. Sizemore joins Shin-Soo Choo and Alex White among key Indians currently on the shelf.
Yet, the team continues to win, coming up with big victories just when you think the season in starting to come apart at the seams.
Yesterday’s unlikely hero was left-hander David Huff.
Huff was terrible last season, going 2-11 after winning 11 games as a rookie in 2009. In spring training, it seemed like Huff would pitch well once around the batting order, but then follow that up by giving up a big inning and taking his team out of the game.
But there he was, throwing seven shutout frames in a big game on the road, in a place where the Indians won just once in the past calendar year.
He even earned a spot on the big league roster. Huff was expected to make a spot start only, but his performance, coupled with a poor outing from Jeanmar Gomez on Sunday, forced the front office to keep the southpaw and send Gomez back to Columbus.
Another key contributor in the sweep was CF Ezequiel Carrera, who contributed an RBI single in the first game, and stole two bases in the twinbill. Carrera was picked up from the place which seemingly is part of the Cleveland farm system, Seattle, in exchange for Russell Branyan.
You can add Carrera, a great defensive outfielder, to Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera as players picked up from the Mariners for marginal major league players. He’s probably a fourth outfielder in the long run, but he has great speed and makes contact. If the Indians want to stay in the race, they can’t rely on Carrera to replace Sizemore.
Still, if I’m the Seattle owner, I’m telling my GM not to accept any calls from Cleveland.
And as for Asdrubal Cabrera, he continues to show that he is a candidate for league MVP if the Tribe can stay in contention.
The switch-hitting SS is now hitting .290 with 17 HR and 59 RBI’s while making a daily highlight reel defensively as the key defensive position on the field. Cabrera ranks in the top ten in the AL in hits and extra base hits, and should get consideration for his first gold glove at the end of the season.
He continues to put up numbers and Cleveland remains in the playoff hunt, he’s going to garner a lot of MVP support.
One player overlooked though is catcher Carlos Santana, who’s been a fixture in the middle of the lineup all year, but gets ignored because of his low batting average, hovering around .230.
However, Santana is on pace to hit around 25 homers, knock in 80 runs, and still has an on base percentage of over .360 because he’s in the top five of the league in walks.
Recently, his power numbers have been increasing.
The Indians have now won 51 games this season, about a month ahead of where they were at this point last season. They done it despite missing Choo, Hafner, Sizemore for significant chunks of the season, and with off years from Fausto Carmona, Choo, and Sizemore.
A different guy is the hero seemingly every night. The constants are Asdrubal and Michael Brantley (another guy quietly putting together a solid season), but there usually is another guy every night.
The outstanding work from the bullpen and solid work of the starters figure in here too, no doubt about that.
Who will emerge during the last two and a half months of the season?