Failure To Run Not Doing Kizer Any Favors.

With the Cleveland Browns struggling once again this season, and rookie QB DeShone Kizer playing like, well, a rookie, another tradition has surfaced among fans and media alike.

That would be bringing up all of the quarterbacks the franchise has passed on in recent history.

However, no one is taking into account the circumstances that Kizer is dealing with to date.

When Kizer was named the starter in the pre-season, we (and just about everyone else) assumed Hue Jackson would protect the youngster, emphasizing the running game and the defense.

Only four teams right now have averaged less rushing attempts per game this season, and outside of Green Bay (3-1), the other three teams have combined for one win (by Miami) on the season.

Now, there are those who say because those teams are losing, they have to throw the football, but the teams who have accumulated the most rushing yards on the season right now are Jacksonville (a surprising 2-2), Denver (3-1), Philadelphia (3-1), Houston (2-2), and Tennessee (2-2).

What do all of those teams have in common?  They all are playing relatively young quarterbacks, including two that the Browns passed up on, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.

It’s almost as if a good recipe to win with a young quarterback is to run the football.

Would you be surprised if we told you Cleveland averages more yards per carry as a team than the Steelers, Bengals, or Packers?  Well, they do, which makes it more curious as to why Jackson seems to give up on the run so easily.

Even Mike Pettine knew not to give up on the run.

Remember Pettine’s first game as head coach?  The Browns trailed the Pittsburgh 27-3 at halftime, but instead of throwing the football all over Heinz Field, he stuck with the run, using 13 running plays in a third quarter where his team cut the lead to 27-17.

It can be done.

The lack of commitment to the running game is also hurting the defense.  The Browns had the ball for 31 minutes in the opening day three point loss to Pittsburgh.

That number dropped to 26 minutes in the week two and three losses to Baltimore and Indianapolis, and reached a season low 24 minutes in Sunday’s defeat by the Bengals.

It’s not like the passing game is working either.  Cleveland’s average yards per pass attempt of 5.0 ranks 29th in the NFL.  And, of course, the nine interceptions thrown by Browns’ passers is three more than any other team in the league.

Jackson’s team has thrown the third most passes in the NFL, behind just Arizona and the New York Giants and tied with Green Bay.  Those three teams all have veteran signal callers, two of them winning Super Bowls.

If Jackson wants to keep playing Kizer, and he should because once he was named the starter there was no turning back, he needs to protect him.

Commit to running the football even if you fall behind by two touchdowns early.  Why not line up in two or three tight end sets, utilizing TEs Seth DeValve and David Njoku in the passing game?

And running the ball would control the clock, keep your defense fresh, and shorten football games.  That’s what teams that lack talent should do.

It’s time for the Browns to take care of their rookie quarterback.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is interested to doing just that.

JD

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Stubbornness? See Jackson, Hue

When we watch the Cleveland Browns play this year to date, we think of the scene from the movie Tin Cup, when the producer of the telecast of the US Open says someone needs to tell this guy he doesn’t have to hit it from there.

Perhaps someone needs to tell Hue Jackson that he doesn’t have to keep having his rookie QB, DeShone Kizer throw the ball downfield to wide receivers who have trouble holding on to the football.

The Browns dropped to 0-4 on the season, getting boat raced by the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals 31-7 at First Energy Stadium.

This game turned early, when Emmanuel Ogbah strip sacked Andy Dalton on the Bengals’ second play of the game, and the Browns took over on the Cincy 30-yard-line.

Three plays netted no yardage, and Zane Gonzalez missed a 47 yard field goal, and the Bengals never looked back.

We watched the game thinking why don’t the Browns do what Cincinnati does on offense, which is run the ball, call some easy pass plays for Dalton, and occasionally take shots down the field?

Instead, Jackson has Kizer firing the ball down the field all the time.

Look, we understand Cleveland allowed 31 points for the second week in a row, but we will make one excuse for Gregg Williams’ unit.  They are on the field all the time.

After winning the time of possession in the opener against Pittsburgh (31 minutes to 29), the following three weeks have seen Cleveland having the football 26, 26 and 24 minutes in the last three games.

That’s a tough way to play especially for a young team.

In the first half, the Browns had one drive where they made more than one first down, the drive that resulted in an interception off of the hands of Kenny Britt.

That’s a tough job for the defense, especially because they are missing three of their best players in Myles Garrett, Jamie Collins, and Danny Shelton.

Meanwhile, the offense can’t claim they are missing any key players.

We talked last week about getting the ball to the four best players on offense.  This week, here are the results:

Isaiah Crowell:  7 carries, 20 yards, 1 catch 8 yards (8 touches)
Duke Johnson:  4 carries, 13 yards, 9 catches 47 yards (13 touches)
Seth DeValve:  1 catch, 2 yards–4 targets  (1 touch)
David Njoku:  2 catches, 11 yards–3 targets  (2 touches)

So, that quartet touched the ball 24 times in Cleveland’s 61 offensive plays.

That doesn’t seem like enough, does it?

Jackson has to understand what he is doing, right?

He’s killing his defense because they are on the field constantly.  It doesn’t excuse a 61 yard pass and run on a screen pass where no one touches the ball carrier, but you can understand why the defense runs out of gas in games.

Put Kizer in some safer down and distance positions.

Our chief pet peeve with coaches in professional sports is stubbornness.  Jackson is displaying all of the classic symptoms.

We understand he favors an offense that throws downfield, but he doesn’t have the personnel to do that.  So, you have to adjust.  Until he does, you are going to have games like this.

And you aren’t really helping a rookie quarterback.

Can Jackson change?  That’s the million dollar question.  But he needs to, or he is going to give the front office something they probably don’t want to consider.

We understood what the Browns did a year ago.  However, they need to make progress this season in the standings.  They way they are going about their business isn’t allowing that to happen, if indeed it can.

JD

Will Added Depth Be Enough For Cavs

Basketball season is just around the corner and the most interesting team in the NBA is probably the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A team that has gone to the NBA Finals three consecutive years has made some drastic changes to the roster.

In fact, the Cavs might have the deepest roster in the league, with 14 players currently on the roster who have had success in the NBA.

That number includes the newest Cavalier, 12 time all star Dwyane Wade, who signed with the wine and gold after getting a buyout from the Chicago Bulls.

Tyronn Lue will need all the depth because there is a lot medical issues on the roster, so the 12 players who are active will probably change on the night by night basis.

Isaiah Thomas will likely miss the first two and a half months with his hip injury, so he will not be part of the mix early in the season, and we would expect Wade, who will turn 36 this season, to get plenty of games off as well.

Veterans like Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, and Richard Jefferson are others who may not be active every night when the schedule gets heavy.

Lue will have to find a balance between rest and rust for these players, making sure they can stay sharp in the regular season while making sure they are sharp for the post-season.

What will this mean if the Cavs and Golden State Warriors match up in The Finals for a 4th straight season?

For one, Cleveland played even with the Warriors when LeBron James was on the floor, but when James was on the bench, Golden State rolled.

Hopefully, there is way more firepower off the bench, and it’s not just the extreme isolation ball (Kyrie Irving) or one dimensional three point shooters.

With players like Wade and Derrick Rose, Lue has more players who can create their own shots at his disposal, and that will keep more pressure on opponents.

Face it, last year, the only Cavs who could create offense were James and Irving.  This year, Lue has James, Wade, Rose, and Thomas when he returns.

And they still have JR Smith, Korver, Frye, and of course Kevin Love, who can knock down threes.  Don’t sleep on Jae Crowder in that regard either.

Cleveland also added a premier defender in Crowder, which will take some of the responsibility for guarding Kevin Durant away from James, and veteran Jeff Green, who can cover both small and power forwards.

There is no question is our mind that the difference in the Finals was Durant.

If he can be slowed down, it would definitely help the Cavs’ cause.

While giving the veterans some rest, he could use that time to develop young players Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and Edy Tavares.  The latter two could be key because the roster still seems to be one quality big man short.

It will also be interesting to see how quickly the newcomers gel with the players who were here last season.

Lue and James have made the transition much quicker than it has taken other teams in the past.

Will the Cavs miss the player they traded to Boston?  They certainly will miss his incredible shot making ability.

On the other hand, they won’t have to play a completely different style with James off the floor, which could lead to a reduced workload.  They should also have ball movement no matter who is on the floor.

It should be fun and it should be interesting to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers this year.  Watching a highly motivated James won’t be bad either.

JK

 

 

Unreal Tribe Putting Up Unreal Numbers

When a major league baseball team wins 29 out of 31 games it is clearly something incredible.

The hottest stretch for a team we can remember was the 35-5 stretch the 1984 Detroit Tigers started that season.  That carried the Motor City Kitties to a World Series title.

Each time the Tribe lost in that span, they rebounded with resounding wins, an 8-4 win over Kansas City after the Royals ended the American League record 22 game winning skein, and an 11-4 thumping of Seattle after the Mariners beat the Tribe in walk off fashion last Friday night.

Still, there are more remarkable numbers surrounding the 2017 Cleveland Indians.

First, the franchise is on the verge of winning 100 games in a season for just the third time in history.  Keep in mind, the Indians have been playing baseball in Cleveland since 1901.  Only the 1954 team (111 wins) and the ’95 squad (100 wins) have accomplished this.

Consider the tremendous season Carlos Carrasco is having.  The right-hander is 17-6 for the year, and has allowed 167 hits in 192 innings, striking out 212 hitters, while walking just 45.  His ERA is 3.43, well below the league average.

Then look at the unworldly numbers put up by his teammate, Corey Kluber.

Kluber has pitched seven more innings than Carrasco and has allowed 32 less hits.  Kluber has fanned 50 more hitters while walking nine less hitters.

That’s one reason Kluber could and should become the first two time Cy Young Award winner in the history of the franchise.

You have the incredible season from Jose Ramirez.  We think everyone will now realize that last season was not a fluke for the switch-hitter, who turned just 25 years old a week ago.

Ramirez has 86 extra base hits, the 7th highest total in club history and if he can get three more in the final six games, only Albert Belle (103 in ’95), Hal Trosky (96 in ’36) and Grady Sizemore (92 in 2006) would have more.

If two of those would be doubles, Ramirez would have 53 on the season, and the last time an Indian had more would be 1923 when Hall of Famer Tris Speaker had 59.

That’s a historic season and remember, he’s only 25.

Speaking of tremendous young players, 23-year-old switch-hitting shortstop Francisco Lindor is another Tribe player making history.

Lindor has already set club records for home runs in a season by a shortstop and middle infielder, and he is approaching 80 extra base hits for a season and 100 runs scored for a season.

Remember when fans were concerned about Edwin Encarnacion early in the season?

The slugger should get at least one more RBI in the final six games, which would give him 100 for the fifth time in the last six years.  He has also set a career high in walks without his strikeouts increasing over last year.

There is also a possibility of him reaching 40 home runs for the third time in his career.

We know the Indians will be home on October 5th for the first game of the Division Series.  They still could get home field throughout the American League playoffs too.

If the pitching continues like it has over the last month, it could be a very fun month of October for Terry Francona’s team.

MW

 

 

Browns’ Offense Needs To Use Playmakers

Nobody with any common sense figured the Cleveland Browns would be a playoff team, but they did expect some kind of improvement.

We would feel satisfied with four or five wins this year.

However, after a promising beginning at home against the Steelers, confidence for that improvement is beginning to wane for even the staunchest supporters of the organization.

The Browns fell behind one of the teams they should be able to compete with, the Indianapolis Colts without Andrew Luck, 28-7 before rallying but falling short 31-28, and dropping their record to 0-3 on the season.

Offensively, Hue Jackson seems to have a couple of problems.

First, he seems to have a hard time committing to the run.  Isaiah Crowell ran the ball four times for 16 yards in the first five offense plays for Cleveland.

That was followed up by seven consecutive passing plays, of which one was completed.

On the Browns’ first touchdown drive, in which they tied the game at seven, Cleveland ran the ball four times for 37 yards, the other 38 came on a pass completion to Kenny Britt

At that point in the game, Crowell had seven carries for 34 yards.  He carried the ball just five times the rest of the game, which still had 43 minutes to go.

When the Browns got the ball back down by a touchdown on their next possession, they ran six plays, four of them passes.

Enough of that train of thought, the other problem the offense has right now is they don’t get the ball to the guys who can make plays.

Crowell ran 12 times and caught two passes.  Duke Johnson ran the ball twice, yes twice, and caught six passes, accounting for 104 yards, many of them coming in the fourth quarter, although he did score the first TD on a 19 yard run.

We may be in the minority, but Seth DeValve can make big plays.  Yet, he caught only two balls for 29 yards.  For the season, he has 8 catches, averaging over 16 yards per catch.

Rookie David Njoku, who will frustrate you with drops, has found the end zone twice in three games.

Instead the Browns targeted these three players 22 times in the passing game:  Britt, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis.  The trio caught six passes.

Our criticism is that instead of forcing the ball to a mediocre wide receiver group, Jackson needs to get his playmakers involved.

Defensively, the inability to stop WR T.Y. Hilton plagued the Browns.  Hilton caught seven passes for 153 yards and a 61 yard touchdown hookup.

Gregg Williams crew held the Colts under 100 yards rushing and a 2.6 average per rush.

But Indianapolis converted 8 of 17 third downs and that allowed them to win the time of possession statistic.

To be fair, the failure to use the running game doesn’t help keep the defense off the field.

Neither does losing the turnover battle, 3 to 1, although one of DeShone Kizer’s interceptions came on the last play of the game.

Joe Schobert continues to impress with eight tackles and a half a sack, and Nate Orchard had a sack as did Emmanuel Ogbah.

There were adjustments made at halftime, and the Colts got just a field goal in the second half, and that score was the result of an offside penalty on 4th and 2 from the Browns’ 40.

That’s something we would like to see from the offense.  Adjustments.  Use the players who can make plays, and stop getting away from the ground game so early.

Take some pressure off of your 21-year-old rookie quarterback.  We thought that was the plan when Kizer was given the job.  Unfortunately, as of right now, that’s not the case.

JD

 

 

Decisions, Decisions Loom For Tribe Before Playoffs

The Cleveland Indians clinched their ninth American League Central Division title on Sunday, so they will have 12 games to get players some rest and to get their starting rotation in order.

The AL Division Series will start on October 5th in Cleveland, as the Tribe has a seven game advantage over Boston for the best record in the league.

No doubt, Corey Kluber will start that game, so Terry Francona has to decide whether he wants extra rest for his ace, or to go on his regular four days off, which means he would pitch the last Saturday of the regular season.

This season, Kluber has a 1.99 ERA with four days off between starts, and a 3.86 ERA with an extra day of rest.  It seems like a no brainer for Tito.

It would seem logical that Carlos Carrasco (16-6, 3.48 ERA) would be the Game 2 starter, but Carrasco has a 2.71 ERA on the road, compared to 4.38 at Progressive Field.

So, Francona could decide to go with Trevor Bauer (4.08 ERA at home vs. 4.88 on the road) in the second game and use Carrasco in Game 3 on the road.

Then there is the matter of the bullpen.

It has been reported that the Indians will have an 11 man staff for the first round, meaning they will carry seven bullpen arms.

Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Joe Smith are locks, and you have to think Tyler Olsen will give Francona a second lefty out of the ‘pen.

That leaves Danny Salazar, Dan Otero, Josh Tomlin, Zack McAllister, and Nick Goody vying for two spots, assuming Mike Clevinger is the fourth starter.

We would choose Salazar and Otero.  The former because he could give the team multiple quality frames, and the latter because he throws strikes, can pitch more than an inning and has pitched very well down the stretch.

Keeping 11 hurlers means 14 position players will make the roster.  The following are locks:  Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Austin Jackson, and both catchers, Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.

That leaves six spots.

You have to believe Jason Kipnis will make the roster, and much depends on the health of Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer, neither of whom are with the Tribe on this trip.

Chisenhall is a for sure if healthy, and we would think that Yandy Diaz, who is garnering most of the playing time at third base will be there in October too.

We also think Gio Urshela and his outstanding glove, and Greg Allen, with his speed and defense will make the roster, leaving the last spot for Guyer (if he’s healthy), Abraham Almonte, or perhaps even Tyler Naquin.

Our opinion is Almonte offers the most in the way of versatility.  He’s a switch-hitter, can play all three outfield spots, and can be used as a pinch-runner as well.

We don’t believe the Tribe will chase the best record in the American League and in the Major Leagues in total either.

We will see the regulars get some rest, the rotation set up for the playoffs, and auditions for the players we mentioned to see who will fill out the roster when the post-season starts.

On the other hand, the Tribe didn’t chase a 22 game winning streak either.  When the pitching performs as it has over the last two months, it just kind of naturally happens.

MW

 

Panic Regarding Browns Is Unfounded…For Now.

The Cleveland Browns have started 0-2 once again this year, and we think it is a reflex for the fans and media alike to start thinking another disastrous season is ahead for the team.

While it is a possibility that Hue Jackson ends the season with a 2-14 season, we still think that the 5-11 mark we expect is still very much in play.

We know the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns’ opponent in the home opener are the favorites to win the AFC North, and for all we know, the Baltimore Ravens could be a 10 win team as well.

That’s why you can’t overreact to things after just two weeks.

The next four games come against opponents which should give people an idea if the Browns have indeed improved from the 1-15 mark a year ago, and being widely regarded as the worst team in the NFL.

Next week, Cleveland visits Indianapolis to visit a Colts team that is without Andrew Luck and has the same record as Jackson’s squad at 0-2.

They will be starting Jacoby Brisset, making his fourth career start, a far cry from Super Bowl winners Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco.

The Colts lost to playoff contender Arizona in overtime on Sunday, but were hammered by the Rams in week one.  Let’s just say the Browns’ foes are in a higher class than those teams.

Then come home games against Cincinnati and the New York Jets, both sitting at 0-2, the same as Cleveland.

The Bengals have already replaced their offensive coordinator, and have looked dreadful against the Ravens and Texans.

Meanwhile, the Jets are copying what Sashi Brown did a year ago, jettisoning many older players and collecting draft picks, probably in an effort to take a shot at the possible franchise quarterbacks coming out in the 2018 NFL Draft.

They are starting Josh McCown at QB, and their losses have been against another rebuilding team in Buffalo, and a pummeling by the Raiders.

Then comes another road game at Houston (1-1), a team whose win is against Cincinnati and they lost to another team that usually drafts in the top ten, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

These four opponents are more in the Browns’ “weight class” than the mighty Steelers and the perennial playoff contender Ravens.

This isn’t to say the Browns will win all four games, or even two of them, but they have a better shot at victories against this quartet than they did in the first two games.

And remember that Cleveland is starting a rookie quarterback, and it would be more the norm than not to expect up and down performances from a player just entering the league.

However, we would still like to see a more simplistic approach from the coaching staff.  We would like to see more of an emphasis on the ground game using an offensive line that the front office spent a boatload of money on.

For all we know right now, the Steelers and the Ravens could be two of the three or four best teams in the AFC.  If you can’t get some victories against the next four teams, then there will be reason for panic and concern.

Right now, Browns fans just need to relax just a little bit.

JD

 

 

Puzzling Decisions By Browns In Loss

The young Cleveland Browns went on the road for the first time this season, and their inexperienced showed in a 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium.

Cleveland is now 0-2 on the season.

If a team turns the ball over five times in a game, lose the turnover battle 5-2, get outgained on the ground, and lose the time of possession battle, that’s a pretty good recipe to come out on the short end of the scoreboard, and that’s what Hue Jackson’s team did today.

Considering all the turnovers, the defense didn’t perform terribly.  Joe Flacco completed 25 passes, but only gained 217 yards on those throws, and most of those yards came on tosses to the running backs and tight ends.

The only negative was just two sacks of Flacco (one each by Christian Kirksey and James Burgess).  That’s just three on the year, and we would guess that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams longs for the return of rookie Myles Garrett.

Offensively, there are a lot of question marks.

Going into the season, we believed Jackson needed to take pressure off his rookie QB DeShone Kizer, and today, he did just the opposite.

Kizer missed much of the first half with a migraine, but he and Kevin Hogan put the ball in the air 42 times, and it seemed like the coach abandoned the ground game with ten minutes to go in the third quarter, down two touchdowns.

At that point, there was plenty of time to keep running more.

Outside of Kizer’s scrambles, the Browns ran two running plays after that point, one a draw by Duke Johnson (that gained 16 yards) and the other being an ill advised option play on 1st and goal at the Baltimore 2 yard line.

Instead of giving the ball at least twice to Isaiah Crowell, they ran the play by Kizer, which lost yardage, and then threw two passes, the second of which resulted in an interception.

Crowell ran just 10 times today for 37 yards with a long of 17.  We still feel Crowell should get the majority of his carries between the tackles.

We also think the Browns have some players who can make plays on offense, but to date, they have had problems identifying them.

Johnson had just seven touches, gaining 80 yards.  Why isn’t he getting the ball more often?  TE Seth DeValve caught two balls today for 61 yards, he has six catches in the two games.

We don’t believe Crowell was targeted on any throws out of the backfield, so he had just ten touches.

Unbelievably, the leading receiver today was WR Rashard Higgins, who was on the practice squad until yesterday.  He caught seven passes for 95 yards.

Meanwhile, Corey Coleman caught one pass.

Look, we aren’t saying Jackson is a bad coach, and needs to be fired.  Frankly, that’s the last thing this organization needs.

But, he does need to protect his rookie quarterback better, and he needs to identify who should his feature guys and get them the ball.

Crowell fell just short of 1000 yards a year ago, and still seems to be an afterthought in this offense.

Special teams continue to be a problem as well. Penalties seem to be a norm with this unit, and twice Jabril Peppers downed kickoffs in the end zone, when he was only about two or three yards deep in the end zone.

He can be a playmaker too, and it seems like he is reluctant to try to take a chance.

There was simply a lot of things to shake your head in wonderment in today’s loss.

JD

Best Tribe Era Ever: 1994–???

The first baseball year we can remember is 1965.  As a lifelong Clevelander, our dad was a fan of the Indians, and we have never changed allegiances.

It wasn’t easy to stay loyal.

In that ’65 season, the Tribe finished 81-81 in fifth place in the ten team American League.  Little did we know that was kind of the norm for the first 29 years we followed the Cleveland Indians.

1968 was the year of the pitcher, and it was also the best finish by Cleveland between the time we started being aware of the team and when they moved into Jacobs Field in 1994.

The Tribe went 86-75 in the last season of the true pennant race, when you won your league and went to the World Series, or you went home.

Even then, Cleveland finished 16-1/2 games behind the Tigers, so they weren’t really in contention.

The closest to being in the race we experienced was 1974, when the Indians were in first place as late as July 12th, and were just two games out on August 6th.

However, they went 20-35 the rest of the way and finished 4th, 14 games out of first.

The Indians had good players, guys like Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant, Buddy Bell, Ray Fosse, Bert Blyleven, Graig Nettles, and Chris Chambliss, but of the franchise’s top 20 players of all time in WAR, only McDowell played in Cleveland between 1965 and 1990.

Remember, the franchise played in three World Series in its history from 1901 through 1994.

Since the move out of old Municipal Stadium, everything has changed.  First, the Tribe has appeared in three World Series in the last 22 seasons.

We’ve seen great players, such as Jim Thome, who likely will be the first Cleveland player who spent the majority of his career as an Indian to be elected to the Hall of Fame since Lou Boudreau in 1971.

Other great talents wearing a Tribe uniform in that time frame are Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Omar Vizquel, and Kenny Lofton, and it continues today to Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley, and Corey Kluber.

We have already said if Lindor plays the majority of his career in Cleveland, he will be regarded as the best player ever to where an Indians uniform, and Kluber may rank behind just Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Bob Lemon as the best starting pitchers in the Tribe history.

There were no players of that caliber when we watched the Indians growing up.

Since 1995, we have seen ten teams (including this year) that will advance to the playoffs.  We understand baseball is different now, they split to two divisions after expansion in 1969, and to three divisions in ’94.

And while just two teams made the post-season before ’69, now ten teams in the majors advance.  However, outside of the major market behemoths in Boston and New York, the Cleveland Indians have made the post-season more often than any other American League team since 1994.

That’s a tribute to the organization and it’s really incredible considering that from 2002 to 2012, a period of 11 years, they made the playoffs just once.

So, to older fans, these are the glory days for the Cleveland Indians.  Great players, very good teams, excellent organization.

There is only one thing missing…eliminating the shadow of 1948, currently the longest World Championship drought in the game.

MW

 

The Tribe’s Remarkable Streak Carries Remarkable Numbers.

By now, we think everyone knows that the Cleveland Indians are on a 19 game winning streak, and tonight they will attempt to tie the American League record of 20 straight wins, set by the Oakland A’s in 2002.

Those are the A’s portrayed in the movie “Moneyball”.

There are a lot of remarkable numbers and statistics that go along with the streak, but in our opinion, the one that stands out is that the Tribe has allowed just 32 runs during the 19 victories, and six of those came in the first win, against Boston.

That means over the next 18 contests, opponents have scored just 26 runs, an average of only 1.4 per game.

No matter what kind of team you have, you will win a lot of games if you only have to get two runs to win.

However, Terry Francona’s crew has scored more than two runs per game, they have scored 132 runs during the streak, averaging 6.9 runs per game.

That also computes to a run differential of 100 runs in these games.  With the Indians leading the AL in that category, the second place team is the Yankees, and they have scored 152 more runs than their opponents…for the entire season.

At the All Star break, it seemed impossible that the Tribe could get the best record in the AL and thus have home field advantage in the league playoffs, but right now, they have that distinction right now, although there is still three weeks on the schedule.

Even with that record, according to their run differential on the season, Cleveland is below where they should be record wise, their real mark being 88-56, while their Pythagorean win/loss is 94-50.

More numbers that boggle your mind.  The Indians’ pitching staff have six shutouts in the 19 games.  They have only one three one-run games, while only two others have been decided by two runs.

This means there have only been five close games in the bunch.

By contrast, Francona’s squad has won four games by 10 or more runs, and in total have emerged victorious by five or more runs in eight contests.

Eleven of the wins came on the road, meaning eight have come at home.  They had an overall scoreless streak of 30 innings, starting in game one vs. Boston, and ended by Corey Kluber, of all people.

They carried a 37 inning scoreless skein at Progressive Field, which just ended last Saturday afternoon against the Orioles.

Mike Clevinger has not allowed a run during the streak, making three starts, and pitching six scoreless innings in each of them.

Trevor Bauer has four wins, Kluber and Clevinger have won three, while Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Ryan Merritt have two victories.

Cleveland’s magic number was 33 before they stopped losing, and it is now six.  There is a real possibility the Indians could have a champagne celebration before they leave town on Sunday night.

Perhaps the craziest thing is that Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, and Andrew Miller haven’t made an appearance on the field during this span.  That speaks to the depth the front office has accumulated this season.

Because of the streak, Jay Bruce has been on the roster for 33 games, and the Indians are 28-5.

It’s a remarkable run for this baseball team, and it keeps on going.  After a season with mixed results for four months, the Tribe is the talk of baseball right now.

MW