We saw last night that Dirk cannot shoot 50% and score 30 points if he has a finger injury, even if it is on his non-shooting finger. You still need that hand for stabilization and many of these shooters rely on feel from tons and tons of practice. One small screwup in the technique and boom, a guy goes from dominant to just okay as a shooter. The rest for Dallas went as I expected. marion was solid on offense, Bosh struggled to guard dirk, Tyson Chandler had a clear advantage at his position, Stevenson was solid on D. However, an injury to a player like Dirk changes the whole make-up of a game and series. They do not have the scoring to make up for his loss. Coming into the game, Dirk may have been the best player right at that moment.
Injuries have also taken their toll on the Indians, but they finally seem to be recovering the last 2 games. They won 2 in a row, making them .500 on this road trip. Considering how dire it looked after dropping 3 in a row and dropping 2 out of 3 against Tampa, its a nice consolation. If you told me before the year that the Indians would "struggle" to go 4-5 vs. Boston/Tampa/Toronto and to go 7-5 in a 12 game period when you add the Reds, I would be pleased. The Indians are still exceeding expectations even if they have some minor struggles against some of the best teams in the league.
Fortunately, Sizemore is starting to hit. During the first 3 games when he was up (where we went 1-2), he went 0-12 with 7 strikeouts. Since, he is 4-9 with 3 doubles and 5 RBIs. Because in actuality he played very little, that 3 game stretch dropped his average ~40 points but he brought it back up ~20. Also finally showing he is fully recovered from injury is mitch talbot. After having a truly horrific first outing, he recovered and went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only 1 run and recording the win. That first game is another case one poor game wrecking the stats of a player operating on a small sample size (or SSS).
Another guy who had been operating on a small sample size that was unsustainable was Josh Tomlin and we have seen that. Tomlin had been going into the last couple games with a BABIP (opposing's batting average on balls in play) under .200. No active pitcher has a career BABIP under .270. The master of getting outs without Ks is maddux but his is only .289 and was .248 at his best. Tomlin is still a good starter with great control, but it shouldn't be a surprise that he's falling back to earth. He'll still good, its just insanely hard to have an extremely low BABIP like he did.
The rest of the team has played about the same. There have been minute changes in the play of Santana, Cabrera, and Brantley, but nothing major. A couple guys I have forgot to mention before that deserve it now are Chad Durbin and Laporta. Laporta had been struggling (2-18 with 8 Ks) but since, he has found his power (2 HRs) and brought his average up. Chad Durbin had a couple rocky starts to end may, but he still finished the month with a 2.84 ERA in the. He's been a nice veteran pickup.
Other Cleveland News:
The madden cover with Peyton Hillis on the cover was released. He is the first Cleveland player to be on the cover of a video game since World Series Baseball in 1996 for the Sega Genesis when it was manny. This surprised me at first, because I figured Lebron got a Video Game cover at some point. Guess not.
ESPN released their list of Best (non-QB) Offensive Players in the NFL and Joe Thomas was 9th. I think he should be higher, but at least he is the best in the AFC North and is getting recognition. Unfortunately, the AFC East blogger ranked Jake Long 6th and Thomas not even on his ballot, the only voter with Jake long and no Thomas. These guys do not always watch other divisions adequately. If you only count ballots where even attention is a logical assumption, Joe Thomas is ranked higher, and James Walker comes off as more objective because he (unlike Graham) didn't cast the only ballot for a player he covers.