Indians aim for .500-or-better finish

By | September 16, 2011 11:39 am | Comments Off

 

A winning season. That’s the goal for the Indians.

Cleveland dropped three games under .500 (72-75) after getting swept by the Texas Rangers in a three-game series that ended with Thursday’s 7-4 loss. With Detroit on the verge of clinching the AL Central title, Cleveland doesn’t have much else to look forward to this year. Save for a .500 record or better.

The “playing for pride” mantra has been thrown around alot in the Tribe clubhouse since getting swept by the Tigers early this month.

“All we can do is keep showing up and try to win as many games as we can. We have to finish this season with pride,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said after Thursday’s loss. “We know we could have been playing better. … Nobody on this team enjoys losing. It’s not time to start now. We’ll battle the rest of the way and finish with our heads held high.”

The Indians will have to do that without Shin-Soo Choo, who came off the DL on Thursday but aggravated a rib cage injury and was shut down for the rest of the season.

Other than a makeup game Monday against the Mariners, the Indians finish with all division foes, including seven games against the Twins. The Tribe ends the year with three games at Detroit, which likely will be resting its regulars for the playoffs.

–All the hopeful, positive thoughts the Pittsburgh Pirates had at midseason slowly dwindled away as the club followed a surprising first half of the season with an all-too predictable slide in the second half. The Bucs locked up a record 19th consecutive season with Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The upswing in attendance and joyous atmosphere at PNC Park were nice while they lasted, but the young Pirates just couldn’t put  it together for a full season. The pitching and defense look to be solid heading into next season. If Pittsburgh can figure out how to hit with runners in scoring position and maintain a consistent approach at the plate, maybe it could finally snap that dubious losing skid next year.

–MLB.com is posing an interesting question: Who should win the NL Cy Young Award? It’s no doubt a close race, as the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the D’backs’ Ian Kennedy all present a strong argument with their impressive seasons.

My vote goes to Kershaw. It’s simply too hard to overlook the fact he leads the league in ERA (2.30) and strikeouts (236) and is tied in wins (19, same number as Kennedy). He plays for a sub-.500 Dodgers squad, but has been overpowering all year. Yes, the other candidates are impressive — Lee with his six shutouts, Halladay with his sparkling numbers and Kennedy with his amazing turnaround from 2010 — but Kershaw could lead the league in three of pitching’s top categories (wins, ERA, strikeouts). It’s Kershaw who should win it.

The AL Cy Young Award should go to the Tigers’ Justin Verlander — in a landslide. He leads the league in wins (23), ERA (2.36), strikeouts (238) and WHIP (0.92).

ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor projects Verlander and Halladay as the winners.

–Tony Battaglia

 

 

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