Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up August 14th

Batter Up August 14th

Like hurricanes in the Caribbean, great baseball races are spawned during the dog days of August. 2004 is no exception.

As millions of Floridians flee the storms battering the west coast of Florida this weekend, the Cleveland Indians are trying to fit into Cinderella’s glass slipper as this year’s surprise team.

The Tribe has gotten back into the race not only for the American League wild card, trailing the Red Sox, Angels, and Rangers by a mere handful of games, but they are putting tremendous pressure on the Minnesota Twins for the lead in the AL Central.

Cleveland got the A’s attention twice in Cleveland earlier in the campaign winning 5 of 6, most with late game backbreaking rallies.

So, are the Indians for real? Can they make it into the postseason?

If offense is the benchmark for success, book your flights to Cleveland.

Heading into this weekend’s series with the Twins, the first of 13 games between the two teams, Cleveland ranks number one in all of baseball in hits, and runs scored.

There’s more. Here’s some stats that will make the A’s offensive minded front office envious.

The Tribe is second in on base percentage, third in batting average, fourth in OPS (on base + slugging), baseball’s latest hot stat, and fifth in walks.

What’s the downside? Cleveland’s pitching brings up the rear in MLB. ERA (25th), hits allowed (29th), and runs allowed (27th).

When a team makes a run in August at the leaders, pitchers usually lead the way. All of a sudden the Cleveland pitching staff is winning and saving games. Veteran closer Bob Wickman is back from the DL and saving games. In today’s game you must build the pen from the closer back (See Octavio Dotel for example). Wickman’s resurgence has straightened out the mess Cleveland had in the pen earlier in the year.

The rest of the pen is now under less pressure and getting the job done without causing heart failure for manager Eric Wedge.

CC Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, and Cliff Lee aren’t the big three in Oakland, but they can give you quality starts.

Check out the top ten in the key offensive categories in the junior circuit and you find Victor Martinez, Matt Lawton, Ron Belliard, and Travis Hafner prominently listed.

If I’m Minnesota, I hear the footsteps.

Pedro Martinez has surpassed Curt Schilling as Mark Mulder’s biggest competition for the AL Cy Young Award. Martinez always smokes Tampa Bay, but he really is starting to dominate like the old Pedro. He says he always pitches better in warm weather, maybe that’s the ticket because he sure is warm now.

In fact, after watching the Devil Rays light Schilling up this week, you wonder if the former Diamondback’s chronically sore ankle is affecting his pitching?

Baseball lost another of its literary icons this week as longtime Detroit columnist Joe Falls passed away at age 76. I was in Cooperstown when Falls was inducted into the writer’s wing of the Hall in 2002. Having dinner with Falls by chance after the induction, then interviewing him about his life in baseball, is one of my treasured moments. Only Chicago’s Jerome Holtzman is left from the old guard, writers who spent their entire career’s covering baseball with a true unbridled passion for the game.

Every time I see Baltimore’s Miguel Tejada drive in a run (106 so far) or crush another ball, I miss him. Nothing against the AL’s next rookie of the year Bobby Crosby, but Tejada is a true number three hitter, drives in big runs, and can hit the ball out of the park against anyone. Plus being the heart of the team for Baltimore, he still is a tremendous shortstop.

Give Ichiro a 20-year career in America and he challenges Rickey Henderson as the greatest leadoff hitter ever to play major league baseball. When Seattle won 116 games 2001, Ichiro was the man. Too bad his greatness is now buried on a Seattle team going nowhere fast. No summer fall off for Ichiro this year.

The A’s close the regular season at home with 4 games against the Mariners, then 3 with Anaheim. Those 4, with an undoubtedly disinterested Seattle team might make the difference in the A’s quest for the playoffs.

Question came up this week as Seattle’s Edgar Martinez announced his retirement, is he a Hall of Famer? Even with his wonderful record as a DH, for 85 % of his career he couldn’t run or play the field, and that knocks him out in my book.

DH isn’t a recognizable position for me.

Another reason why you can’t sink serious dough into closers, Seattle’s Eddie Guardado, all of a sudden, out for at least 12 months with a torn rotator cuff.

With Mike Piazza on the DL following a career worst two month batting slump, odds are one of New York’s heroes will be a DH somewhere next season.

How about Piazza in Yankee Stadium, stranger things have happened?


1 VegasVic { 08.14.04 at 5:36 pm }

While watching the Tribe dive for balls, hit in the clutch, play solid fundamental baseball, and win as a team I can’t help but wonder where they would be right now if Milton Bradley was still jogging down the first baseline for them.

Eric Wedge possibly made his best move before the first ball was thrown out in April.

2 Anonymous { 08.19.04 at 1:59 pm }

The SF Chron is reporting that Dye had a sprained left thumb. Well, if that is the case, the A’s should rest him long enough, put him on the DL, until he is significantly healed. He is atrocious at the plate right now and has no power. They can rest him now and get by. They have been getting by without him the last month. They will really need him the last couple of weeks in the season which is where the AL West race will be decided. Dye is going to have to produce then for the A’s to win.
-Mike E

3 Anonymous { 08.19.04 at 7:29 pm }

Excellent thought. Dye is doing nothing right now so who cares if we have 3 or 4 lefties in a row. Let’s get him ready for late Sept or the Playoffs when we need him. Besides, Hatteburg, Chavez, and Durazo have no trouble hitting lefties anyway. I think Macha gets too carried away with this lefty-righty stuff. Just look at who is hot. Durazo is hitting off everyone right now. Wish we could clone him and Hatteburg. They are so fun to have in the lineup.

4 Anonymous { 08.19.04 at 8:03 pm }

I agree with the love for Hatteberg and Durazo. They’ve been “big league hitters” this year, all year. By that I mean patient, clutch, and consistent.
I also agree that Macha gets carried away with the lefty righty switch off thing. Dye is expendable and I can’t wait to see what Beane does with that 11 mil. next year.
If there is one redeaming factor in leaving Dye in the clean up spot it is to keep everyone in “their spot”. In other words, you never know how Durazo might respond to the pressure of batting fourth. I think he’s the kind if guy who might try to press in that spot. Where he is now, in the 5-6 hole, the pressure is off and I think is a contributing factor in his torrid hitting.
Erubiel Durazo, from what I can tell is much like Barry Zito in that he tends to over think the game a bit and is at his best out of pressure positions in the lineup. That being said, Jermaine Dye had an awesome April and hasn’t been anything special since. So what do you do about the lineup? Maybe nothing. I kinda like it how it is.

5 Anonymous { 03.27.07 at 9:52 am }

My post

6 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

7 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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