From the editor’s notebook …
A look at a few items that warrant attention but not necessarily a full post …
The Indians are starting to look ready for the off season, not the post-season
A week ago, we wondered if it was time to call the season on the Cleveland Indians, or if the Tribe still had one more stretch of good baseball in them.
Seven days and six games later, we are a little closer to the answer and it is not one that Tribe fans are going to want to hear.
Following Sunday’s loss in Oakland, the Indians are 4.5 games back in the Wild Card standings (forget the division, the Tigers already took care of that). The Indians really needed to sweep the A’s, a team they are chasing for a playoff berth, but after losing two-of-three – and with just 38 games remaining in the season – the playoffs may prove to be just a far enough out of the Tribe’s reach.
We also may be nearing (or have exceeded) the expiration date on Scott Kazmir as a starting pitcher in 2013. After skipping his turn in the rotation because of a dead arm, Kazmir was not sharp on Sunday, giving up five runs and 10 hits in five innings. And that’s not to bag on Kazmir; he’s a No. 5 starter who has pitched in the major leagues in two years. The Tribe probably got as much out of him, and maybe more, this year as could realistically be expected.
One positive from the road trip is that manager Terry Francona, who can come off a bit stubborn, seems to have finally accept the fact that Asdrubal Cabrera is not a No. 4 hitter. In the clean-up spot, Cabrera batted just .198 with two home runs and 10 RBI. No word on why it took Francona so long to see what the average Tribe fan could see.
The funny thing (and by funny we, of course, mean depressing) is that Cabrera hasn’t been any worse at the plate that Nick Swisher.
On the season, Swisher is hitting .242 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI; Cabrera is at .237 with nine home runs and 46 RBI in nine fewer games.
Maybe Cabrera should start telling everyone he grew up in Ohio; that way Tribe fans might turn a blind eye to his struggles at the plate.
The Indians are now off to Los Angeles, where they will try to stay on the cusp of the playoff race during a three-game series with the Angels.
Sept. 8 can’t get here soon enough for the Browns
Yes, the team still needs time together on both sides of the ball as they learn Norv Turner’s offense and Ray Horton’s defense, but the wave of injuries that is rolling across the NFL finally caught up with the Browns on Thursday night. And while the Browns have not been hit as hard as some teams (Miami and Dustin Keller, for example), the injuries that have hit found the Browns in some vulnerable areas.
While the team is waiting to see what surgery reveals on Dion Lewis’ broken fibula, it looks like Brandon Jackson is going to go from forgotten/inactive under the former coaching staff to the No. 2 running back on the team – and that may actually be a good thing. When last we saw Jackson in action on a regular basis, he rushed for more than 700 yards and added more than 300 receiving yards for Green Bay in 2010.
“I’ve been in his shoes before where I had to be out. It’s tough,” Jackson told The Beacon Journal. “But looking forward it’s a great opportunity for me to come in and continue to get better every practice, every rep and continue to show the coaches that I can catch, I can run, I can block and that I can help the team win.”
At least the Browns have a veteran they can turn to at running back; the same can’t be said at offensive guard. With it looking like Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston will both be out until the third or fourth week of the regular season, the Browns are turning to rookie Garrett Gilkey, a seventh-round draft pick out of Chadron State. (Thankfully the Browns decided to use some of their draft picks this year.)
“I was pleased with what he did last night for coming into the situation he came in against the guy he had to face,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of Gilkey’s work against Detroit. “It was quite a challenge for him. He’s not Joe DeLamielleure yet, but he’s made big improvements over the course of time that he’s been here. That was a good situation.
“We’re seeing that at a number of places, a number of different positions where some young guys are getting really good opportunities to play against good competition and snaps that are important early in the game.”
The one positive is that the first game is still three weeks – rather than the three days – away, meaning Gilkey still has a lot of practice time to get comfortable on the line and show the coaches that he is ready for the job.
The most disconcerting injury of the night had to have been Barkevious Mingo’s bruised lung, which had him coughing up blood and landed him in the hospital for two days.
“I’m perfectly fine and my ribs are perfect,” Mingo said in published reports after returning to the team on Saturday. “I had no pain and no bruising, which kind of surprised the doctors, as well. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the shortness of breath I was having, I probably would have still been out there playing.”
It is entirely possible that the injury is just one of those things, but you never know. And with Mingo’s lean frame, we have to wonder if something like this could happen again, either in his chest or another part of this body, if he takes a hard shot.
Mingo will be out of action for a few weeks (maybe even until the opener against Miami), and will miss some important practice time, but at least outside linebacker is one area where the Browns are covered.
“We have a lot of players at a lot of positions who can play for us,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “We have quality players at a lot of quality positions. A lot of people use the mantra, ‘Next man up.’ We believe in that philosophy that it doesn’t matter who the starters are, it is give me 11 guys who want to go out and play and can play. He is one of our 11, so will it hurt our team? Yeah, it will hurt our team because of our depth, but we will get him back soon and we will plug him right back in.”
And be sure to check out this post at NFL Philosophy, which highlights something worrisome about Brandon Weeden that all the coaching in the world may not be able to fix.
Liverpool opens the season just the way Brendan Rodgers drew it up (mostly)
The squad was able to make the lone goal stand up because goal keeper Simon Mignolet, making his debut with the club after coming over from Sunderland and sending longtime keeper Pepe Reina out of town, made a fantastic double-save on Jonathan Walters’ penalty kick just three minutes before full time.
“The double one at the end was the most important, as you could tell from the reaction of the rest of the players,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian. “You could see the spirit in the team and that’s what we are trying to cultivate here.”
Mignolet’s save on the penalty kick had to have Rodgers feeling vindicated for picking 25-year-old Mignolet over the more-tested Reina. Especially after the way Mignolet played earlier in the match when he was, well, less than ideal.
Just nine minutes into the game he misplayed a shot that allowed Stoke to regain possession, with Robert Huth just missing a goal when his shot his the crossbar. Then, just before halftime, Mignolet took so long clearing the ball out of his end that a Stoke player was able to block his kick and the ball almost rebounded into the goal.
‘I kept a clean sheet, which is the important thing,” Mignolet told The Daily Mail. “Today it worked, I’m really pleased with it.”
The game also marked the halfway point of Luis Suárez’ 10-game suspension. If the first five games without Suárez, Liverpool is 4-0-1.
Hey, we’re just saying.
(Indians and Browns photos by The Associated Press)
(Liverpool photo by BPI)