Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

RIP, 2011 Cleveland Indians

We know there are still 20+ games to go, but the Indians 2011 season came to an end Monday afternoon when Victor Martinez’ three-run homer cleared the right field fence.

There are plenty of reasons why the Indians came up short in their attempt to win the division – primarily the seemingly never-ending string of injuries which led to too many at-bats for bench players – but the main one is the Tribe doesn’t have Justin Verlander.

According to Bill Simmons’ column last Friday at Grantland, the Tigers are 21-8 when Verlander starts and 54-54 when he doesn’t (that was before the weekend series where the White Sox rolled over and played dead).

Fourteen times Verlander has followed a Tigers loss by winning the next game. He’s pitched at least six innings in each of his 29 starts. He’s thrown 104 pitches or more in every start. He’s first in wins (20), WHIP, strikeouts, innings pitched; second in ERA (trailing Jered Weaver by just 0.10) and WAR (trailing only Bautista).

That right there is the biggest reason why the Indians went from 7.5 games up to 7.5 games back in the standings – they just don’t have anyone who can put up numbers like Verlander.

Take Verlander off the Tigers and even with their big payroll they are right there with the Tribe, hovering around .500.

***

As if the end of the season wasn’t bad enough, the Tribe announced on Tuesday that Carlos Carrasco will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2012 season.

“Conservative management of the injury failed,’’ head trainer Lonnie Soloff said in published reports. “So after several medical opinions, Carlos will undergo a UCL reconstruction. Dr. David Aitchek will perform the operation in New York on Wednesday. Recovery time for the surgery is 12-18 months, and we are hopeful that Carlos can begin game activity in 12 months.’’

So, for Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.47 ERA this season), the Tribe has Carrasco (Tommy John surgery), Jason Knapp (shoulder surgery in July), Lou Marson and Jason Donald.

Just great.

At least the Indians still have pitching depth in the minors – oh wait, no they don’t.

***

Sounds like we may be seeing Artis Hicks on the field for the Browns on Sunday, either at left guard if the team believes fifth-round pick Justin Pinkston isn’t ready, or possibly at right tackle if Tony Pashos’ injured foot is more than just “sore” to use coach Pat Shurmur’s words.

Hicks sounds ready to do whatever the team needs.

“I’ve played everywhere except for center,” the 10-year veteran told The Beacon Journal. “I’ve always been a guy that’s just tried to come in and do what’s asked of me no matter what it is. I don’t expect this to be any different. I don’t have any expectations other than to go out there and just try to learn the system and try to fit in with these guys.”

***

Finally, Browns team president Mike Holmgren made what we think is his first mistake since arriving in town when he decided the Browns will wear all white at home this season.

We love the brown jerseys over the white pants and a look at the schedule leads us to believe we won’t be seeing that look much – if at all – this season.

The Steelers, Ravens and Bengals don’t wear white at home, so those games are out. Same with the Raiders, 49ers and the Cardinals. The Texans have it on their website that they will wear blue jerseys against the Browns and the Colts most likely will as well.

So it looks like we’ll be getting the monochrome look for the entire year. At least the brown pants won’t be making a comeback, which is some small consolation.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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