Showing posts with label Danny Salazar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Danny Salazar. Show all posts

Monday, October 17, 2016

Blue Jays better start scoring some runs against the Indians' starting pitchers

Jose Bautista
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista believes "circumstances" are favoring the Cleveland Indians thus far in the ALCS.

The Indians have taken each of the first two games, by scores of 2-0 and 2-1, and the Toronto hitters apparently are getting frustrated.

“All you gotta do is look at the video and count how many times (Cleveland pitchers) throw pitches over the heart of the plate,” Bautista said Sunday, as reported by Mike Vorkunov. “They’ve been able to do that because of the circumstances -- that I’m not trying to talk about because I can’t. That’s for you guys to do, but you guys don’t really want to talk about that either.”

It sounds as if Bautista believes the umpiring is going against Toronto, and perhaps he's trying to get some calls to go his way and his teammates' way in Monday night's Game 3. Some have suggested the Blue Jays believe the series is "rigged" in favor of the Indians. That's a reach.

I personally don't think MLB rigs games, and I don't buy into the notion of curses or conspiracies. What motivation would MLB have to tell umpires to make calls favoring the Indians? Cleveland is a small-market team, and it isn't like the league stands to get a big ratings bump if the Indians advance.

All of this is foolishness, and the only circumstance working against the Blue Jays right now is their inability to hit the quality pitching being run out there by the Indians. Toronto is a dead fastball hitting team, and Cleveland has a bunch of pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- who can make quality pitches with their breaking balls.

The Indians' bullpen has been nothing short of spectacular. As a group, they've allowed just two earned runs in 16.1 IP this postseason, and they've been facing good offenses, too -- Boston and now Toronto. That will pencil out to a 1.10 ERA. And, oh, Cleveland relievers have struck out 27 men in those 16-plus innings.

Left-hander Andrew Miller, of course, has been the main reason for that. He's struck out 17 and is unscored upon in 7.2 postseason innings this season. He's formed an unhittable bridge between the Cleveland starters and closer Cody Allen, who has pitched four scoreless innings in the playoffs.

Manager Terry Francona has shown he's not afraid to go to Miller as early as the fifth or sixth inning. He can do that because he has another dominant option in Allen, and two other pretty good middle relief options in Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero. Cleveland has the deepest bullpen of the remaining four teams, for sure.

As we've mentioned before, the Indians' shortcoming is the injuries to their starting pitchers. Corey Kluber is the ace, and he's been tremendous: He's allowed nothing in the postseason. But with Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco sidelined, Cleveland is forced to rely more upon Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer than it would like.

But Tomlin was really good in Game 2, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings. He's a breaking ball pitcher, and he used that pitch effectively against the Toronto hitters. He's not overpowering, and he sure as heck wasn't going to give Toronto too many fastballs to hit. Smart pitching.

The Blue Jays will face Bauer in Game 3, and I'd recommend they think less about the umpiring and figure out a way to score early -- before Miller, Shaw and Allen, et al., become involved in the game. Wouldn't hurt, either, if someone from that lineup could do some damage against a curve ball or a slider. The Indians are going to keep throwing them until the Blue Jays show they can hit them.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Alexei Ramirez is off to the best start of his career

Alexei Ramirez went 2 for 4 with three RBIs on Thursday to help lead the White Sox to a 7-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. Included was Ramirez's second home run of the season, a solo shot in the third inning off Cleveland right-hander Danny Salazar.

We note this only because it took Ramirez until Aug. 9 to hit his second home run last year. We are only 10 games into the season, and there's still plenty of time for Ramirez to fall back into his seemingly annual April slump, but right now the veteran shortstop is easily off to the best start of his career.

Ramirez, a lifetime .279 hitter, on average hits 33 points below that in April. It is far and away his worst month. Here are the April numbers for his career:

2008: .121/.147/.182, 0 HRs, 2 RBIs
2009: .214/.273/.286, 1 HR, 9 RBIs
2010: .221/.231/.312, 1 HR, 8 RBIs
2011: .265/.318/.382, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs
2012: .207/.233/.264, 1 HR, 6 RBIs
2013: .281/.316/.382, 1 HR, 4 RBIs
2014: .421/.463/.684, 2 HR, 9 RBIs
Career: .246/.284/.347, 9 HR, 48 RBIs

Obviously, there is no chance Ramirez will continue to hit over .400 for the remainder of April. But with three weeks worth of games to go in the month, he only needs one more home run and one more RBI to equal the most productive April of his career. I like his odds of bettering that this year.

A good start from Ramirez has been one of the pleasant surprises so far for the Sox.