Since the last post covering the Indians, they have lost 3 out of 4 and have overall lost 4 out of the last 5. Granted, some of this was due to stellar starting pitching, but it was much more than that.
The Indians faced Josh Becket, John Lester, David Price, and James Shields all in a row. They combined, have a 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 22-9 record, and 8.5 K/9. In other words, dominant aces who are having All-Star seasons. This team does need to figure out how to hit great pitchers better if they want to have any hope late in the season or in the playoffs, but for now it is not the biggest concern. They did beat James Shields (helped by a solid start from Carrasco) which was promising, but then Justin Masterson got rocked the next day.
This team really has missed the offense of Sizemore and Hafner. They were scoring 4.85 runs before the injuries, but 4.25 after Sizemore got hurt and 3.18 since both have been hurt. Sizemore IS back, but he also hasn't done anything the last 2 games (0-8 with 5 Ks). Fortunately, the pitching has generally been okay. They have struggled recently, but the Indians just faced 2 great teams. To win the division, they have to play well inside the division (45% of games are in the division and 2/3rds of games after the All-Star break) and fortunately, they play in the easiest division. They are the only team above .500 and only one team (the tigers at 25-26) are on pace for more than 72 wins.
The key will be Santana and Choo stepping it up with the current injuries. Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .351 in may, but Santana has struggled to get hits and while Choo has raised his average to .250, he is not driving the ball well and getting extra base hits.
In NBA news, the teams to play in the Finals have been finalized. The pattern for the Bulls' and Thunder's losses were the same: Rose, Westbrook, and Durant do not trust their teammates so they force the issue and take too many bad shots. Some credit definitely has to go to the Heat and Dallas defenses who were able to play good D against these players and not get easy shots.
Previewing the Finals: I think this will be a close one. Whoever wins, it will be in 7 games. To me, the keys will be the forward positions. The match-up of Shawn Marion could be a tough one for Lebron and Bosh will need to step up his D. Dallas has no real answer for Wade (though Stevenson is a solid defender). I definitely think the overall match-ups for the Heat will be harder. A lot of people are picking the Heat, but Dallas definitely has an excellent chance to tak this.
Sizemore is back, but White has been sent to the DL. Reports are that the finger injury he sustained will take 8-12 weeks to heal and he may not be back again this year. This could hurt, because he was looking very good since the call-up and Mitch Talbot got rocked in his most recent start.
Also, there have been rumors that the Indians may go after Jim Thome. Hafner is injured again and they say its for a month, but we have seen before that he is fragile. We will be buyers at the deadline and the Twins suck. Even if Hafner is healthy, it may still be beneficial to go after Thome as insurance and to give Hafner a rest.