Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 9:00 PM
ESPN will nationally televise Wednesday Night’s Cleveland Indians/Texas Rangers game…which probably made a lot of sense to TV executives back when the Indians were a contender! A recent slump has raised serious questions about whether or not the Indians are going to matter throughout the rest of the 2013 campaign.
After the games of Monday May 20, the Indians were 26-17 thanks to a dramatic sweep of the Seattle Mariners. Walk off followed walk off…and the city was as excited as it’s been in years. Plus, with a less than fantastic start to the season from the Detroit Tigers, it looked like Cleveland just might contend for the AL Central title this year, a wildcard at worst.
Offseason personnel moves looked like they were paying off. Cleveland had become one of THE stories in the first quarter of the season.
*0-2 vs. Detroit, in a pair of games played in Cleveland. Not exactly sending a message to the rival you’re trying to beat out in your division!
*1-3 at Boston, which brought them to 1-6 for the year against the Red Sox, and reminded everyone that Cleveland seemed to have a knack for beating bad teams…but was unable to play consistently well vs. teams who knew what they were doing. All the heroics of that weekend vs. Seattle were erased by this 1-5 stretch vs. REAL contenders.
*2-2 vs. Cincinnati. A tough draw in Interleague play. But, if the Indians were for real, they should have a real shot to win this series against a team from the inferior National League. They had to win the last two games at home to salvage a four-day split.
*1-2 vs. Tampa Bay. Back to the grindstone, with the only win coming against an off-rotation pitcher hours after the visiting Rays won a late night series opener that had been plagued by a long rain delay. Cleveland won because the other team didn’t show up!
*0-3 at the New York Yankees, which brought this recent stretch 4-12 against teams with winning records. Playoff caliber teams don’t do that. Playoff caliber teams can at least tread water vs. quality. Cleveland was just exposed as a pretender vs. quality, and it wasn’t going to get any better.
*0-3 at Detroit. Are you kidding?! This sure is a brutal schedule stretch. But, the Indians aren’t supposed to be the Houston Astros or Miami Marlins. Nobody loses EVERY game vs. quality. That’s 1-8 in the last three series vs. real AL contenders…with the only win coming against an early-day no-show…and 4-15 in the 19-game gauntlet against top opposition.
*0-1 at Texas to start a new series (Game Two of this series Tuesday Night will finish after publication deadlines).
That’s how 26-17 turned into 30-33 in relatively short order. There is still time to get things moving in the right direction. And, the fact that Minnesota, Kansas City, and the Chicago White Sox aren’t exactly setting the world on fire will give the Indians a chance to get hot during intense divisional play in the second half of the season. For now, there’s no evidence that the team is playoff-ready. ALL the evidence suggests that a pretender has been exposed.
Maybe they’ll have a chance to get some momentum going Wednesday, as they draw a pitcher from the back end of the underrated Texas rotation.
Ubaldo Jiminez: 4-4, 5.03 ERA, 1.36 WHIP
Nick Tepesh: 3-5, 3.92 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
The good news about Jiminez is that he’s very inconsistent. Most pitchers with an ERA around 5.00 are lousy all the time. Jiminez alternates great with horrible. They’ll have a chance to win if can bring great to the mound for the TV cameras. Tepesch has been quietly solid, though he’s managed to miss most of the American League’s best offenses.
If you have a hunch Jiminez is going to pitch well, he may deserve a look at an underdog price. If not, the Over might make some sense as very hot weather has hit Texas this week…which often signals run-scoring at this stadium.
JIM HURLEY will take the very best from both the day and night cards to put together a blockbuster Wednesday for his clients. Angels/Orioles and Reds/Cubs highlight the early slate. Featured under the lights will be Red Sox/Rays, Yankees/A’s, Giants/Pirates, and Nationals/Rockies along with the Indians/Rangers game you’ll be watching on ESPN.
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