I was not able to watch the Cleveland Indians play last night because I was in attendance at the Akron Aeros game.
It was nice to come home to see the bottom of the lineup had a good night hitting and that Travis Hafner hit another home run. I am also happy that Cleveland decided to start Carlos Santana at catcher immediately.
But I was mostly pleased to come home after the Aeros came from behind to win 4-3 against the Portland Sea Dogs, Boston's AA affiliate.
Down 3-0 after a sloppy first inning, featuring three walks, one error and three runs on one hit for the Sea Dogs, the Aeros did not look like a team that was on a 10-game winning streak.
But then came the fifth inning.
Jerad Head advanced from second to home on two ground outs after his lead-off double. Lonnie Chisenhall led off the next inning with a towering home run to the bullpen, which really put the energy back into the team and the crowd.
In the seventh, the Aeros strung together three straight hits, but they also left the bases loaded after a Chisenhall strikeout. Head later scored the winning run in the eighth inning after a couple timely hits.
Here are some of my observations from the game:
1) Lonnie Chisenhall is a good player. Cleveland's first-round selection of the 2008 draft impressed at the plate, showing patience and also hitting a home run (his third in four game). He seemed to do well with selecting the right pitches to swing at. As a third baseman, he really can't get to the majors fast enough to replace Jhonny Peralta.
2) The defense could use some work. The first-inning error came on a routine ground ball to first base, and several ground ball outs ended with a bounced throw into first base. Manager Joel Skinner is a smart baseball man and will get the defense straightened out though.
3) The team is clutch. The Aeros seemed to play with a sense of urgency after adding their first run to the score board. Notching a run in each of their last four innings is the only reason they won the game. More often than not, it seems the Indians don't have their sense of urgency when they get off to a bad start. Akron definitely used better pitch selection than what Cleveland typically uses in last night's game.
4) With 2009 first-round selection Alex White also in Akron, the future is looking a little brighter in Cleveland. If Matt LaPorta can get his swing down consistently and translate that into Big League success, the Indians could soon have a team built around a nucleus of these promising youngsters:
Cleveland also has several other prospects in the wing that have potential. One can only hope these players became a solid group like the Belle/Baerga/Thome/Alomar/Lofton/Nagy group did in the early 1990s because it's no secret the Indians won't be signing a big-name player any time soon. The only difference position-wise between the two groups if the 1990s group had a second baseman and the current group has a first baseman. Otherwise, there is a pitcher, catcher, two outfielders and a third baseman.
Photo by Andrew Harner