Red Right 88

Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Razor thin Tribe

The last two days against Boston highlighted just how thin the Tribe’s margin of error is right now.

With Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner out of the lineup with injuries, and Carlos Santana in an 0-for-19 slump, the Indians need to have outstanding pitching to have any chance of staying in the game.

Tuesday night’s game was a perfect example. Fausto Carmona went eight innings and really only made one bad pitch – the two-run home run he gave up to Jason Varitek in the seventh inning of the Indians 4-2 loss.

Most nights four runs would not have been that much to overcome, but the Tribe lineup is currently a bit thin. Add in the fact that the Indians forgot how to run the bases – they had a runner thrown out at third, two base stealers were caught at second, and Matt LaPorta was doubled off in the fifth.

With the offense in its current state, that’s not going to get it down.

And the less said about Mitch Talbot’s performance in Wednesday’s 14-2 loss the better. Doesn’t matter how well you are playing, few teams are coming back from 7-0 in the first inning.

So the Indians hit the road with a two-game losing streak. Does that mean the good times have come to an end? Of course not.

Detroit was rained out Wednesday, and the Twins and White Sox both lost. Pending the outcome of the Royals game, the Tribe leads second-place Detroit by 5.5 games, KC by at least 7.5 and Chicago by 9. Minnesota is so far behind they are lucky there isn’t relegation in baseball.

The Indians entered May 4.5 games ahead of second-place KC, so they’ve increased their lead during the month. And Sizemore is expected back on Friday.

So while the last two days haven’t been fun, the Tribe is a long way from the panic zone.

***

Former Cavs coach Mike Brown has agreed to become the coach of the Lakers, taking over for the retired Phil Jackson.

“In response to rampant speculation and reports about our head coaching position and Mike Brown, we’ve met with Mike and are very impressed with him,” the team said in published reports. “In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days.”

Who saw this one coming?

Although, once you get past the initial surprise, the Lakers may have made a good hire.

During his time in Cleveland, Brown:

  • Won the third-most games in team history with 272 wins;
  • Won the most postseason games in team history with 42 wins;
  • Coached the team to the playoffs five straight years;
  • Coached the team past the first round of the playoffs every year;
  • Posted at least 45 wins five straight years, the first time in team history;
  • Posted back-to-back 60-win seasons;

And no one was under more of a spotlight than the Cavs during Brown’s last two years with the team, so the pressure of coaching the NBA’s marquee franchise shouldn’t faze him.

Plus, you don’t think Kobe Bryant is just itching to prove he can win a title without Phil Jackson?

“If you’re building a championship team, the DNA always has to start on the defensive end of the floor. Always. I’m a firm believer in that,” Bryant told The Los Angeles Times. “I don’t believe in building a championship team on offense. It has to be built on defense and rebounding. Period.”

Brown certainly knows defense, so if that’s what Bryant wants, he’s going to get it.

Congrats to coach Brown – a good guy who may gotten a raw deal at the end in Cleveland.

***

The Tribe is finally getting some love from the worldwide leader – with two (two!) columns praising the team in one day.

Tim Kurkjian risks being struck down by lightening for suggesting that Asdrubal Cabrera may be the best shortstop in the American League:

The best shortstop in the American League this year is not closing in on 3,000 hits, he’s getting close to 500. He has an unusual first name, his last name is the same as his double-play partner and he was traded for a current ESPN analyst who had only 17 hits after the deal.

Meet Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians. He is 25 years old, a switch-hitter and, so far this season, the best player on the best team in baseball.

Then Jerry Crasnick came through with a look at how the Indians fleeced the Mariners of both Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo in separate trades in 2006:

The Cleveland Indians lack the financial wherewithal to compete for big-name free agents and their recent draft history is nondescript, to put it kindly. But the Tribe sure does hold its own on the trade market.

Scan the roster for the Indians, the surprise American League Central leaders, and you’ll find quite a bounty by way of the Pacific Northwest. Asdrubal Cabrera, who leads AL shortstops with 10 homers, 58 hits and an .900 OPS, arrived from Seattle five years ago in a late June deal for Eduardo Perez. Less than a month later, the Indians acquired outfield prospect Shin-Soo Choo and pitcher Shawn Nottingham from the Mariners for Ben Broussard.

Two positive stories in one day? Things are definitely getting strange around here.

***

Finally, today is the anniversary of arguably one of the greatest games in Champions League history – Liverpool’s win in the final against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005.

Trailing 3-0 at halftime, the Reds scored three times in the first six minutes of the second half and eventually won the game in a penalty shootout for their fifth European Cup championship.

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