Friday, August 24, 2007

Who Else Misses Mike Rouse?

What a joke! All year long, the Tribe has suffered from a lack of depth and all of a sudden they have it. Today's game looked like another vintage June/July/August Tribe offensive snooze-fest. They couldn't touch Tiger lefty Nate Robertson. Then in the 10th inning, in a scoreless tie, and the Central Division lead in the balance, the Tribe depth won the game.

Desperately needing a left-handed outfield bat to replace the injured and sub par talent that was David Dellucci, GM Mark Shapiro went back to the well for the third time with Kenny Lofton. Until today, #7 hasn't shown much other than a surly personality and his trademark speed. But today in the 10th with the bases loaded, two out and Jason Michaels scheduled, Eric Wedge summoned Kenny to pinch hit. He greeted flame-thrower and Tiger "season savior" Joel Zumaya with a single back up the box to score pinch runner Josh Barfield.

The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31st. At the deadline, the Indians did not make any deals to improve their single biggest and least talked about weakness - it's infield utility spot. We have been sitting through four months of the Mike Rouse era. Lets call it what it is - The Rousenator may have been the worst player who has stayed on a roster more than a month in major league history. It defied logic that this sad sack last four months, let alone four days. Josh Barfield struggled with his bat at second. Jhonny Peralta went into a skid of his own at Short. Casey Blake is Casey Blake and needs days off. Yet Wedge was stuck running these three into the ground because the Rousenator could not be used - he was that bad. In 41 games and 67 at-bats, The 'Nator hit .119 with only 4 RBI.

August 7th would have been my father's 65th birthday. I woke up, it was pouring rain. I grabbed my son from his crib, fed him, and headed to my computer. On I came across this headline: "Rouse Designated for Assignment." Just like that, my day improved. The sun came out. It was like a miracle from above. Three days later, Shapiro put in a waiver claim on Orioles utility man Chris Gomez, a veteran who carried a .305 batting average and a solid glove at all four infield positions. He has played first, second, and third, and his natural position is shortstop.

Fast forward to today - With the bases still loaded with two out, Go Go Gomez lined Zumaya's first pitch into the gap in right field scoring two and giving the Tribe a 3-0. In the process, Gomez sent The Savior to the showers where he chucked his glove into the wall of the dugout on his way. He's been in Cleveland just two weeks and has already done more the Rouse did in four months. It's a good thing Gomez came through with that big two out, two RBI hit, because as we are all to aware - any ninth inning Joe Borowski pitches in is a roller coaster ride.

It's almost becoming comical the way JoBo does it. He seems to get the first two guys out and then watch as the wheels fall off the wagon. Today was no exception. Before you could say "Bob Wickman," It was 3-1 with the tying run at second and the winning run at the plate. Luckily for JoBo, that one-time steroid using phony Pudge Rodriguez bailed him by swinging at ball three and popping out to end the game. It wasn't pretty, but he got the save and the Tribe is up 3 games in the loss column on Detroit, who now has to play without DH Gary Sheffield indefinitely and welcomes the New York Yankees for four games. The Indians are off to "the home of the technique," Kansas City.

An extra props for today's win goes to GM Mark Shapiro for acquiring not only Lofton and Gomez, but for having the guts to promote Asdrubal Cabrera and throw him right into the fire. He pinch ran for Ryan Garko in the 10th (another example of the improved depth) and moved to second base, sliding Gomez to first. Do you believe I wrote this whole article without mentioning the gem outing by Jake Westbrook or the masterful relief pitching of The Realtor Raffy Betancourt and Raffy Perez? That K of Curtis Granderson in the 9th was MONEY.

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