Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Cobra Strikes Again

Paul Byrd overcame a few speed bumps, but earned a win at the Jake Sunday to improve to 4-1. Byrd scattered 9 hits over 7 innings with no walks, but found himself with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 8th. Then the Indians dropped the grit bomb on Cincinatti, getting out of the jam with only one run scored.

Fultz came in to relieve Byrd with the bases loaded, holding Griffey Jr. to a sac fly. Raffy Betancourt comes on to face Brandon bleepin' Phillips. In the signature moment of the game, with Phillips batting, Kelly Shop-vac guns down Ryan Freel trying to steal 3rd, shortly followed by Reds manager Jerry Narron going berserk and getting gunned down by umpire Gary Darling. Betancourt proceeds to strike out Phillips with a nice breaking ball to end the inning. Awesome.

Borowski came in for the save with a 1-2-3 9th inning behind a sick sprawling catch from Pronk (yes, you read that right, a web gem from Pronk).

Shoppach Plays Bigger Role in '07

This is why the fans in Cleveland love Shoppach, he just keeps racking up these key put-outs in big innings. It's a tough break for him that he's blocked by Martinez, but he has been getting a lot more playing time this season. Here's a breakdown of Victor and Kelly's positional splits for the past two seasons:

Victor Martinez

Position GS (2006) GS (2007)
C 127 29
1b 19

Kelly Shoppach

Position GS (2006) GS (2007)
C 31 12

Shoppach has started at catcher in about 30% of games this year, compared to starting in only about 19% of games the entire 2006 season. Martinez has gotten more days off from catching since he is now a legitimate option at first, allowing Wedge to rest him without removing his bat from the lineup. Wedge has also not been afraid to play Hafner at first on occasion, giving Martinez some starts as DH. Shoppach has put up solid offensive numbers (for a catcher) and has earned a reputation for his cannon arm, throwing out 34% of baserunners in 2006, well above the AL average. Wedge's backstop rotation will reduce wear and tear on Victor, while shoring up the Tribe's defense at backstop.


According to the game recap for May 20, Cleveland has tied the 1995 club for the best home start in team history, with a mark of 16-4 at the Jake and Miller Park. Even better, the fans are starting to come back too, with 102,016 people attending the three game Cincinatti series over the weekend.