Three Up, Three Down: Cleveland Indians, Week Two

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IApril 13, 2008

It was a very bland week for the Tribe and their struggling club.

It wasn't pretty to watch, as the Angels' Torii Hunter crushed them late in Monday's game. It set the tone for the whole week.

While Travis Hafner came back the next night and delivered a win, the Indians had dropped three straight before a finale against Oakland.

There were some bright spots though, as Cliff Lee saved the Indians from another Oakland sweep.

First Up: Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta had to bat in the three hole last week with Victor Martinez out.

Now he is back in his comfort zone with no pressure on him to get the job done.

Just how he likes it. Better yet, just how I like it.

Jhonny went off this week, homering in three straight games.

After a sluggish first week without any runs batted in, Jhonny knocked in five this week.

Peralta is a silent key for the Indians if they want to be successful offensively. He was a big reason for their postseason success last year, delivering clutch hits and important home runs.

Second Up: Travis Hafner

Travis Hafner isn't hitting for a high average, but he is making his hits count and he is making good contact. That's something he didn't do last year for awhile.

The man they call Pronk has knocked in four runs this week: two in Sunday's game against Oakland in the third inning. and two on Tuesday night off Justin Speier.

After being rocked in the bottom of the ninth the previous night, the Tribe battled back and Hafner was the hero. He hit a two-run jack in the top of the ninth to save Jake Westbrook's bacon.

There really isn't that much of a difference between this week and last for Hafner, except for the strikeouts.

Both weeks now he's had six hits, but compared to last week his strikeout total has significantly lowered.

Last week he struck out nine times, for five games in a row. This week, he only whiffed three times.

As long as Travis isn't striking out a lot, the offense should be doing fine.

Third Up: Cliff Lee

Talk about dominant! Cliff Lee was that on Sunday against Oakland.

In his second start of the year, and for the second straight Sunday facing the Athletics, Cliff Lee threw a gem of a ball game.

Both his games have stopped three-game slides and prevented sweeps.

That is a stopper.

While he is the Indians' fifth starter, he hasn't been pitching like it. He's been pitching above it.

Last week, he shut them out for 6.2 innings. This time around, he held them to one run off only two hits in eight strong innings.

He struck out eight Athletics' hitters and retired 14 straight before being removed after a long half-inning from the Indians' offense.

If Cliff Lee can keep this team afloat until their big ace gets back on track, he will be an important piece to this team's success.

After an injury-riddled year filled with emotion from getting sent down, Lee has bounced back in a big way.

First Down: Franklin Gutierrez

After starting off the year 3-for-3, Gutierrez has three hits in his last 28 at-bats.

Also, he missed a few games with a small bug.

The last two games have been better, as he is finding his swing again and getting hits, but since having a stellar opening day, Gutierrez has struggled.

He has also struck out 10 times and drawn only two walks.

Second Down: C.C. Sabathia

For a second straight week, C.C. Sabathia is down.

Sabathia got rocked in his Friday start against the A's, surrendering nine runs off 12 hits and two walks.

The reigning Cy Young winner of the American League has gotten off to a rocky start, walking nine batters after only walking 37 the entire year in 2007.

Sabathia must turn it around and start keeping his team in games. Even when he doesn't have his best stuff, Sabathia manages to minimize the damage, but early this year he simply does not have his control.

Third Down: Paul Byrd

If there is anyone worse than C.C. Sabathia on this young season, it has to be Paul Byrd.

Byrd was rocked in this week's start against the Angels.

Byrd went three innings, giving up six runs off three homers, including a Mike Napoli grand slam.

He only threw 43 pitches before he had to make an early exit; his control has been just as bad as Sabathia's.

Byrd will get a chance on Tuesday to redeem himself, but if his control issues continue, he might not be useful.

A guy who doesn't throw hard needs to control his pitches, and right now he just isn't hitting his spots.


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