Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – It’s been an interesting first half for the Indians, sitting three games back of the White Sox after Sunday afternoon’s collapse at Progressive Field against the Rays.
There’s been a number of memorable games and memorable wins of the 44 in which the team had in the first half, and today with the team officially on the All-Star break, we’re going to go back in time a little bit and list off the “Top 5 Indians Wins” of the first half of the season.
Feel free to leave a comment if you can think of another one to add to the list.
5. April 13th at Kansas City 8-3 – This may not seem like a big win, but considering the firestorm of the team going into the game, it was a huge win for the Indians at the time. The club had started the year 1-4, and turned to veteran Derek Lowe to stop the bleeding. Lowe didn’t need to do all that much, as it was the offense that set the tone, crushing KC starter Luke Hochevar for 7 runs in the first inning enroute to the big win.
Lowe went 6.2 innings, allowing 3 runs on 11 hits, and while he wasn’t as sharp as other starts, he did enough to make sure the 7-run first inning held up. The club swept the Royals, and wound up 7-2 on the nine-game trip to get right back in the race in the AL Central after the slow start at home.
4. May 15th at Minnesota 5-0 – Again it was Derek Lowe on the mound, and while he was solid in April and May, this was his best start, going the distance as the Indians shutout the Twins. It was a big win as they were swept in Boston over the weekend, and after a close win in Minnesota the night before, they needed a strong start from Lowe the following afternoon, and they got it.
Lowe threw a season-high 127 pitches for his 10th career complete game. He gave up four hits, and didn’t strikeout a batter, but did walk four to get to 6-1 on the year and drop his ERA to 2.05. The win improved the Indians to four games over .500 at 20-16.
3. April 19th at Seattle 2-1 – One of the best pitching matchups of the first half in all of baseball, as Josh Tomlin and Felix Hernandez went pitch for pitch, and it appeared after 8 innings, the M’s would get the best of the Indians as they lead the game 1-0. Tomlin had been outstanding, but Hernandez was just a wee bit better, striking out 12 and allowing just five hits.
Heading into the 9th, the M’s went to closer Brandon League. Carlos Santana walked, Travis Hafner singled, and Casey Kotchman laid down a perfect bunt to get runners to second and third. That’s when Jack Hannahan came through with a huge two-run single to score Santana and Aaron Cunningham, who ran for Hafner to make it 2-1. Chris Perez came in for the 9th, and got the M’s out 1-2-3 to close out the great comeback win.
2. June 19th vs Cincinnati 3-2 - A night after a big 10-9 win, it looked as if the Reds would get one back on the Indians, as they scored a run in the 10th off Nick Hagadone to get a 2-1 lead. They turned it over to closer Aroldis Chapman, who is known for his blazing fastball. The closer came into the game with a 1.06 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 34 innings. All that didn’t matter.
Shin-Soo Choo reached on a one-out single off Chapman, which set the stage for All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera, who sat back on a 3-1 heater, and drove it over the wall in right to send the crowd in a frenzy as it gave the Tribe a stirring 3-2 win. “You just look for a fastball in a zone. You can’t try to pull anything. I just wanted to make contact. I don’t show my emotion, but when I hit it, inside I was thrilled. I knew it was out,” Cabrera said after the win.
1. May 24th vs Detroit 2-1 – The Indians had already sent the Tigers a message with two wins, but on this warm Thursday afternoon, the Tribe had their work cut out for them, as they were facing the defending AL Cy Young award winner – Justin Verlander. The Indians ace, Justin Masterson, would have to have a huge effort to counter Verlander, and he did.
Masterson matched Verlander pitch for pitch for first his career win over Detroit, as a HR by Shin-Soo Choo and a Jose Lopez single to score Michael Brantley in the fourth would be enough for the win. Verlander owned the Indians in the past, going 9-1 against them in his last 12 starts. He allowed two runs, six hits, walked one threw a 102 mph fastball in the 8th inning.
Problem was, the Tigers offense couldn’t produce vs Masterson, who went 7 innings, allowing one run on five hits. Chris Perez came in for the third straight day to close the door and give the Tribe what was their biggest win of the first half of 2012.