CLEVELAND, Ohio — the Indians aren’t the only team under the microscope. the Orioles share the same specimen slide as all of baseball squints to get a glimpse of when it will happen.
Let’s be real here. everyone is waiting for the collapse. the big fall. a trip over Niagara Falls without the barrel.
It’s almost June and the Indians and Orioles are in first place in their respective divisions in the American League. Who falls first? or do they drop at all?
For the Indians, this is their second fast start in as many seasons. you know the stats from 2011: 30-15 on may 23 with a seven-game lead in the AL Central, 50-67 the rest of the way.
This is new ground for the Orioles. They’ve had 14 straight losing seasons. They’ve lost 90 or more games for the last six years.
three up, three down
Baseball is a game of threes. three strikes and you’re out and three outs in each half of an inning. here are two more sets of threes to consider from last week in baseball. all stats are through Friday.
1. Baltimore lefty Brian Matusz is 4-1 with a 4.30 ERA in his past five starts after losing 12 straight decisions going back to last year.
2. Dodgers lefty Chris Capuano is 6-1 with 50 strikeouts in 56 innings after undergoing Tommy John surgery twice (2002, 2008) on his left elbow.
3. Detroit’s Justin Verlander has pitched at least six innings in 52 straight starts, the longest streak since Steve Carlton did it for 69 starts from Sept. 13, 1979, to April 13, 1982.
1. the Yankees are hitting .117 (11-for-94) with runners in scoring position in their past 23 games, through Friday.
2. Rays lefty Matt Moore is 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA (14 earned runs in 19 innings) in his past four starts.
3. Toronto lefty Ricky Romero has 21 walks and 20 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings over his past four starts.
No. 9, no. 9, no. 9: Kansas City, according to STATS Inc., has allowed six runs in the ninth inning this season, tied with the Giants for the fewest in the big leagues.
Victory needed: the Red Sox, who opened the season at 4-10, have yet to post a winning record this season.
Walk much? When Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips walked three times Wednesday against Atlanta, it was just the second three-walk game of his career, according to High Heat Stats.
Paul’s Rant of the Week
Too bad the New York Yankees aren’t for sale. I’ve always wanted a big-league ball club to call my own.
the New York Daily News reported last week that the Steinbrenner family “is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees.” the story was based on sources in baseball and the New York banking community.
Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner denied it even though it would be a great time to sell.
the Dodgers were just sold for $2.175 billion in may. What would the Yankees be worth? Not sure, but I’m guessing the three plastic glasses and one Marquette rugby reunion beer mug filled with change on my desk at home wouldn’t quite cover the cost.
it does prove one thing. for several years there have been rumors about Larry and Paul Dolan trying to sell the Indians. they have denied it, saying at best they are looking for investors. it is known, however, that whenever they reveal the details of owning a piece of a big-league team, the prospective investors go screaming into the night.
Steinbrenner reportedly doesn’t think baseball is a sound financial vehicle. We’ve heard those words for years in Cleveland, but in New York they just won’t do. the Big Apple requires big money.
Which means my glasses of loose change are going to continue gathering dust on my office desk.
The last time the Orioles were a winner was 1997. the Indians beat them in six games in the ALCS to go to the World Series.
The Orioles started Saturday with the best record in the AL at 29-17. after losing two straight to the White Sox, the Indians are 26-20, fourth-best in the AL, with a 1 1/2-game lead over Chicago in the Central.
The Tribe’s journey to the top is no mystery to its fans. They’ve used good starting pitching, a great bullpen, solid defense and just enough offense. But the sound you hear in the background could be the trapdoor creaking open. In a three-game span from Wednesday through Friday, they lost the heart of their lineup — Travis Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana – to injury.
Injuries were part of their undoing last year and now they are being tested once again.
There is no such bad news at Camden Yards. the Orioles, like the Indians, have solid starting pitching and a good bullpen. Jason Hammel leads the rotation with a 6-1 record and a 2.78 ERA. the Orioles acquired him from Colorado in February for Jeremy Guthrie after he lost 13 games last season.
National League starter, coming off a bad season only to be acquired in an off-season trade to an AL team. Sound familiar?
It should, because the Tribe’s Derek Lowe, a 17-game loser last year in Atlanta, entered Saturday’s game against the White Sox tied for the AL lead in wins with six.
In the bullpen, Baltimore’s Jim Johnson and the Tribe’s Chris Perez are tied for the AL lead in saves with 16.
The Indians play better defense, but the Orioles can mash. they lead the AL in homers with 70 compared to the Indians 37. Adam Jones (.310, 14 HRs, 31 RBI), Chris Davis (.299, 7, 20), J.J. Hardy (.253, 9, 23), Nick Markakis (.271, 8, 25), Matt Wieters (.233, 8, 21) and Wilson Betemit (.222, 7, 22) power the Birds.
They’ll need that kind of muscle in the AL East to hold off the big-money Yankees and Red Sox, who have sputtered their way through the first two months.
The Orioles, like the Indians, do some of their best work late in the game. nine times, according to STATS, the Birds have trailed after six innings only to rally to win. the bullpen has accounted for 11 of their 29 victories.
The Indians are 7-4 in games decided in the last at-bat. the bullpen has been credited with eight of their 26 victories.
When the Indians face a left-handed starter, they are already talking terms of surrender. They’re 4-9 in games started by lefties this year, compared to 22-11 against right-handers.
The Orioles have no such left-handed phobia. They’re 8-3 against lefties and 21-14 against right-handers.
So who caves first? or could the Indians and Orioles meet sometime in October as they did in 1997? If you feel like watching, go ahead. you won’t watch alone.