Saturday, May 26, 2007

Prepare for Glory

Well, looks like the game is completely blacked out (I can't even watch on I don't see how can call it a "national broadcast," since Fox is carrying the Philly-Atlanta game in my area instead of Cleveland-Detroit. I despise national blackouts, since the small-market teams almost always get screwed over. At least I have time to catch up on the blog-o-matic now:

Someone Owes J-Mike a Beer....

The Tribe started off Game 1 of their epic road trip with an impressive 7-4 win over Detroit. Friday night's win was by far the best game Cleveland has played this season, with solid pitching, clutch defense, and a consistent offensive attack. Paul Byrd gave up four runs and nine hits over 6.1 IP, but was good enough to contain a stacked Detroit lineup and prevent the big inning.

Jason Michaels made an absolutely sick catch at the wall to rob Craig Monroe of a 3-run jack in the 2nd inning. After Michaels landed with the ball in hand, Monroe stopped, stared, and jogged in reverse back to home plate. The lineup utilized Wedgie's one through nine approach to the fullest, with the bottom of the order setting the table and the top five racking up RBIs. Victor started at first again, allowing Shoppach to get two hits and a walk, raising his team leading BA to .326. I made an earlier post about how much I like Shoppach being Byrd's personal catcher every fifth game and he has certainly backed me up on it this season.

On the Cobra

Byrd (5-1) is making a case for Cleveland to pick up his 2008 club option this off-season, pitching some of the best baseball of his career. The 37 year old Byrd has an ERA+ of 113, 1.27 WHIP, 5.2 K/G, and an outstanding 0.5 BB/G ratio over 52 innings pitched. He has not issued a walk since April 26, extending his streak to 37 consecutive innings. Byrd has also been the model of efficiency, averaging just over 89 pitches per game and 3.2 pitches per batter.

Byrd has placed himself in a position to go seven innings on a regular basis (he threw only 73 pitches last night), but Wedge has been quick to pull Byrd after six, or when he gets into a jam late in the game. It seems that the coaching staff is making sure Byrd stays fresh over the long season, keeping his pitch count as low as possible. Resting Byrd, especially when the team has some insurance runs for the bullpen, is a logical decision. Byrd has only pitched 200+ innings once in his career and is getting to the age for a pitcher where that extra rest can go a long way. Look for Byrd to go take his low pitch counts deeper into games in the second half of the season.

Detroit and Boston: Worst Summer Vacation Ever

I know it's only May, but this is a huge road trip for the Tribe. Over the next five days, Cleveland will play two more games in Detroit, then travel to Fenway Park to battle the team with the best record in baseball. If Cleveland can come away with two series wins on this trip, that could possibly give them a nice, two game buffer on those pesky Tigers and would solidify their place as an American League powerhouse. Powerhouse you say? A little early isn't it? No, not really. We're over a quarter of the way through the season and Cleveland has yet to face the top two teams in the league, making this the most significant test for the team so far. Given the Tribe's performance on the road (12-13) compared to the Jake (17-4), it will be interesting to see how they perform. My main concern going in is how the pitching will hold up against the two best lineups outside of Cleveland and New York.

It Ain't Over Yet...

On a side note, Terry Pluto wrote an excellent piece on why Cavs fans should relax and Detroit fans should be the one's worrying as the series heads back to the Gund (er, the Q). Very reassuring and makes some great points, for all you stressed Cavs fans out there.

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