I guess we now know that Kryptonite to the incomparable two time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana is the Cleveland Indians. For the fifth time this season, the Tribe took down the best pitcher in the game and did it with relative ease. The Tribe worked Santana for 105 pitches in just six innings, tagging him for four runs on six hits and three walks. They scored single runs in the first, second, third, and fifth - the last one being Ryan Garko's solo pizza. Its unbelievable to fathom that one team could beat Johan Santana five times in one season, let alone two or three. But the Tribe has done it. Give Eric Wedge credit - he has tried different lineups in each of last three games against Santana and it has worked. Last week is was Asdrubal Cabrera, today it was Ben Francisco. Two players Johan has never seen victimized him.
C.C. Sabathia was back to his dominant form, going eight strong scoreless innings to pick up his 16th win of the season. Francisco made his triumphant return to the starting lineup by doubling home Casey Blake in the second. Kenny Lofton started in Center for the first time since coming over from Texas and had two hits. Grady Sizemore was given a day off, but came in to pinch run for Chris Gomez in the sixth.
The Indians are now up six games in the Central and taking game one in Minneapolis against Santana is a huge notch in their belts. This is the most important road trip of the last five years - a ten gamer that takes the Indians out west to Anaheim and to Chicago. Its imperative that they keep playing good baseball.
Enjoy some of this national press the Tribe is getting:
Buster Olney - espn.com - The AL Manager of the Year choice figures to come down to Terry Francona of the Red Sox, Eric Wedge of the Indians or the Angels' Mike Scioscia.
Erik Mack - cbssports.com - Indians Power Ranking #3 - Their 9-6 season-series edge on the defending AL champs is the difference in the division right now. They need this cushion, too, because we expect the Tigers to get hot again before things are said and done.
Ken Rosenthal - foxsports.com - The Marlins and other clubs looking for young center fielders gave too little consideration to Franklin Gutierrez, one of several unheralded players performing well for the Indians. Some scouts and executives believe that Gutierrez might be a better center fielder than Grady Sizemore, and Gutierrez is developing enough power to play a corner-outfield position.
Stan McNeil - sportingnews.com - After rookie Asdrubal Cabrera took over for Josh Barfield at second base, the Indians reeled off an eight-game winning streak and built their largest lead of the season in the A.L. Central. The 21-year-old switch hitter is batting over .300 and had 10 RBIs in his first 20 games. Barfield, meanwhile, has become a fine pinch runner.
John Donovan - si.com - Indians Power Ranking #3 - The ChiSox stopped the Tribe's eight-game winning streak Sunday, but not before Cleveland put a stranglehold on the Central. The Indians have the pitching to keep control of the division, too. We all know about C.C. and Carmona, but what about steady 36-year-old funky-throwing Paul Byrd, who is 14-5 with a 4.19 ERA? In his past four starts, he's 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA. Nothing funky about that.
More Donovan - There's no reason to think that C.C. Sabathia and the rest of the rotation can't keep up their good work for another month. The lineup, though, can definitely improve. It works better when designated hitter Travis Hafner -- who hit only .233 with a puny .406 slugging percentage in May, June and July -- is hitting like he did last August (.361, 13 homers, 1.340 OPS).