CANTON, Ohio- I was sitting down watching game one from Texas as the Cleveland Indians began the season opening a three-game series against the Rangers. Cleveland hasn’t had a lot of luck on the road in Texas. As a matter of fact, the last time the Tribe had swept the Rangers in Texas was back in 2008. I told myself while watching game one, regardless of the score, I’m more than likely never going to count the Indians out of a game. Not with this lineup.
Let me start off with Carlos Santana. So far, yes, it’s way too early to put stock into this, but Santana is hitting .417, five hits, two doubles and four RBI’s. I’m only putting out these stats because he’s done all of that in 12 at-bats. The one thing I’m seeing with Santana that I like the most so far, is his patient at the plate. That was evident in his final at bat of the series when Carlos walked to make the score 6-5, still in favor of Texas. But, Santana never swung the bat. He could have once the count reached 3-0. But, he forced Sam Dyson to throw a strike, and he didn’t. The only improvement I’d love to see Santana make that will never happen? Stop trying to always pull everything.
Francisco Lindor is a budding star. I realize that there are many good or great shortstops in the game today, but Lindor really is the total package. He’s the best defender at the position and, not only can he hit to all parts of the field, but, he has power. That was shown with a blast to left field and his mammoth grand slam shot deep to right field. Now, grant it, Globe Life Park is a hitter’s park, Lindor isn’t a big guy, but to be able to hit the ball that hard, that far is impressive for a guy his size. The question has already been asked about Lindor. Can he be a candidate for the AL MVP? I say, why not? My only issue with Francisco, is when he tries to do too much from a defensive standpoint. In the final game against Texas, Lindor tried beating Joey Gallo to second base to end the inning, but was late. Then, he tried throwing the ball to Edwin Encarnacion to first. The ball went off the tip of Edwin’s glove. The runner would have been safe regardless. Now, in fairness to Lindor, it looked as though he was going to flip the ball to Jose Ramirez, but Ramirez didn’t get to the bag due to where he was positioned. Lindor has started off the season right where he left off.
Why there’s no need to rush Jason Kipnis back. So far, Jose Ramirez has played good defense. Including that incredible running catch of a pop up in shallow right field. Right now, Ramirez has 4 RBI’s and 1 homerun. I said in my Broulis Beat Report prediction for the AL Central, that I don’t expect Ramirez to put up the numbers he did in 2016, but I don’t expect him to have much of a drop off. When I’m watching Jose at the plate, I see a player who feels and looks confident, and he’s seeing the ball well.
The bullpen is showing just how strong it can be. I think that most people would agree with me, when I say that the Ranger’s lineup is nothing to laugh at. Dan Otero, Shawn Armstrong, Boone Logan, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen all pitched well. As a matter of fact, it was Kluber that had his early struggles in game one. Corey Kluber went six innings and gave up 6 hits and allowed 5 runs. Kluber struck out 6, but the Texas batters really got to Kluber in the fourth inning. After that, Corey calmed down. The bullpen then came in and shut down Texas. Carlos Carrasco went 5.2 innings and pitched well, striking out 7 allowing just 2 runs. The bullpen again came in and nearly shut down Texas. Danny Salazar struck out 9 batters, but he didn’t have his best game. But, again the bullpen came in and only allowed 1 earned run. The good part about the third and final game of the series, was that Indians manager Terry Francona was able to stay away from using Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to get the victory. Zach McAllister, Otero, Armstrong and Shaw were able to come in and be just as effective. If you’re an Indians fan, you do hope that the starters can soon start to get to the seventh inning or late sixth inning. It’s extremely early in the season, I have all the faith in the world that the starters will get where they need to be.
Cleveland now returns to Arizona and will open a three-game series against the Diamondbacks. Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber will be the three starters during this series at Chase Field.
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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick broulis