A few days ago, no one would have attached any significance to August 25th. Sure, the Browns were playing a pre-season game against the Eagles, but it turned out to be much bigger than that.
It’s because Jim Thome, a future Hall of Famer, is coming back to the Indians, the team he spent much of his career with.
The Tribe acquired the veteran slugger for a player to be named later, and he’ll be in the lineup right away to take Travis Hafner’s spot at designated hitter.
For those thinking this is more of a sentimental move, keep in mind these numbers since the all-star break:
Hafner: .220 batting average, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 642 OPS
Thome: .267 batting average, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 876 OPS
This is not to denigrate Hafner, but there is no doubt he has been in a slump as of late. Thome has been more productive, and although he probably won’t be in the lineup everyday, he will provide some thump in the middle of the Indians batting order.
With the Tribe being 6-1/2 games behind Detroit, it probably will not be enough to get the Indians in the playoffs, but it gives them a better chance of doing it than they had without Thome.
As for the Browns, they took a step backwards last night, although they did play one of the better teams in the NFL in the Philadelphia Eagles.
Colt McCoy didn’t play his best game, hitting on just 9 of 18 passes for 89 yards, and he threw his first interception of the exhibition season.
However, the most disturbing part of the evening was that the quarterback took several hits once again, a week after he was hit hard a lot against the Lions.
Eagle defenders sacked Browns’ QBs five times in total, and they were hit more times than that.
Granted, guard Eric Steinbach was out of the lineup being replaced by rookie Jason Pinkston, but the offensive line as a group has to do a better job of protecting the passer.
It would be a refreshing change to see the Browns not have to use three starting signal callers in a season because of injury issues.
On the plus side, it was good to see Peyton Hillis get some work and have Montario Hardesty play and be healthy at the end of the game.
Pat Shurmur still hasn’t shown a lot of the running attack in the exhibition contests, and success in that area will take some pressure off the passing attack.
Defensively, the Browns front seven showed some promise. First round pick Phil Taylor looked impressive, getting a sack of the elusive Michael Vick, and Joe Haden rebounded from a tough game against the Lions.
Haden showed once again that he is a solid tackler in the secondary, and rookie Buster Skrine looked good too.
Remember, Dick Jauron’s unit was missing starting LB Chris Gocong and perhaps both starting safeties in T. J. Ward and Usama Young.
It would not be a surprise if the Browns get to see a different side of their head coach during the upcoming week of practice. Shurmur didn’t look happy with the performance of his team last night, and he now has his first teaching opportunity after the poor performance.
Next Thursday’s last exhibition will be dedicated to finding out who will get cut when the roster goes from 80 to 53 for the regular season. So, it’s likely we won’t see much of the starters.
Still, the game didn’t count, just like the win over Green Bay and the loss to Detroit. So, the things that went wrong can be corrected before the opener against Cincinnati on September 11th.