From the editor’s notebook …
If the Cleveland Indians come up short this season in their quest to return to the playoffs, there will be plenty of moments and miss opportunities for Tribe fans to point to as they review the season.
The biggest one may be J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.
Friday night, Martinez had a three-run homer and a triple as the Tigers beat the Indians for the fourth time in the past five meetings. On the season, Martinez is batting .327 against the Tribe, with six home runs and 18 RBI.
It’s not just the Indians that Martinez has been tormenting as he has clearly taken a liking to the American League Central. He’s batting .432 against Kansas City, with five home runs and 15 RBI; .324 against Minnesota; and .319 against the White Sox.
All from a player who wasn’t good enough to make the Houston Astros in spring training, was signed by the Tigers to a minor league contract in March, and was promoted to Detroit on April 21. It’s even more impressive when you realize that Martinez is batting behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, so he is protecting them in the lineup rather than the other way around.
“He’s certainly been a huge find for Detroit,” Indians manager Terry Francona said in published reports. “He started the season in Triple-A, and now he’s hitting fifth for them. Having him makes getting through Miggy [Cabrera] and Victor [Martinez] a whole lot harder, and that’s huge for them.”
Such is life these days for the Tribe. The Tigers find a gem in Martinez and make an in-season trade for starting pitcher David Price, while the Tribe answers with Nyjer Morgan and Josh Outman.
When the book is written on the Tribe’s 2014 season, the biggest chapter should probably be reserved for J.D. Martinez.
Rough day for the Golden Flashes …
It was the first time that Kent gave up 60 or more points in a game since 2002 – it’s depressing enough that there was another time – and the team’s worst loss since a 56-0 beating at the hands of Miami of Ohio in 1998.
Coming off their third loss in their past four games, a classy program like Ohio State was clearly ready to take out their frustrations on someone and, by a quick of the schedule, that someone was Kent State. (Speaking of losing three-of-four, remember when Urban Meyer was going to dominate college football from his post on the Buckeye sideline? Good times.)
It was another hard day for Kent it what has quickly turned into a rough season under second-year head coach Paul Haynes. The loss drops the Golden Flashes to 0-3 on the season and Haynes’ record since coming back to his alma mater to 4-11.
The team clearly misses Trayion Durham in the backfield, as the Golden Flashes rushed for just 47 yards against the Buckeyes. Three games into the season, Kent is averaging just 47.3 yards per game on the ground and just nine points a game.
“When you go through adversity like we have been through, it shapes you,” Kent State head coach Paul Haynes said. “These games are shaping us. We will be a good football team, but right now we are not showing it. We have to get better at the little things, and we will continue to do that.”
Shaping is one thing. But it probably won’t take much more “shaping” before the team starts to break and an already disappointing season spirals into the abyss.
… and an even worse one for Liverpool
The latest came with a home loss to Aston Villa, of all teams, as Gabriel Agbonlahor found the back of the net just nine minutes into the game thanks to yet another blunder by Liverpool’s backline defense.
Despite having 81 minutes to get their act together, and despite outshooting Aston Villa 18-5, Liverpool couldn’t get it down. The Reds almost pulled out a tie, but Philippe Coutinho struck the post with eight minutes remaining, denying Liverpool a point from the match.
“As a team we probably didn’t quite have the intensity in our game and the speed in our game,” manager Brendan Rodgers said. “When they get a goal and go 1-0 up, you’ve got to get around the sides and switch the play a bit quicker. We were just unable to do that.”
Liverpool won’t have to wait long for redemption, thankfully. They open up Champions League play on Tuesday night as Ludogorets Razgrad visits Anfield.
(Photos courtesy of USA Today, The Plain Dealer and Getty Images)