Indians Three Up, Three Down: April 14th - 27th

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IApril 27, 2008

I have decided to make the Indians version of Three Up, Three Down a once every two week thing. It makes it much easier to measure the teams hot and cold players.

With that, there was some ups and downs, but as of late it has been more up than down.

First up: Casey Blake

Blake was probably down the last time around and he was on his way to being down again. But he went from batting near .150 to being the team leader in runs batted in.

In the past two weeks he has raised his average to .229, hit two home runs and knocked in 12 runs.

Since the 14th of April he is hitting .314 and really has become that guy we are used to at the bottom of the order picking everyone up.

That is one thing the offense was missing the first few weeks, was Casey Blake being productive in the nine hole. He did it the first game of the year to win it, but since then his offense was non-existent.

Second Up: Victor Martinez

It looks as if Victor Martinez has finally found his footing after finally shaking off the early injury struggles.

Since April 14th Victor is hitting .432 with seven runs batted in, and it's no coincidence that since he started hitting well, the Indians have been winning games.

He is the team leader and a big important piece of their offense. Martinez always comes up in the clutch for the Indians, but perhaps Saturday evening was the first time he had an actual walk off hit to win the game.

Martinez singled home Grady Sizemore with the bases loaded to give the Indians a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees.

If the Indians offense wants to continue to have that efficient scoring offense they want, Martinez needs to be hitting like this.

Third Up: Masa Kobayashi

If there is one guy who has stepped up in the absence of Joe Borowski, it has been Masa Kobayashi.

Kobayashi was slowly elevated to the eighth inning set-up role with Rafael Betancourt closing games.

Rafael Perez who has struggled at times has been pitching the sixth and seventh innings, was thought to be the eighth inning guy after Borowski went down.

But, Kobayashi took the role and hasn't looked back. On Saturday he got his first major league win, and since moving into that role he has been nearly flawless.

Since the 17th he has pitched six innings with no runs, a win and only three base runners.

First Down: Joe Borowski, Jake Westbrook

They are not down for the reasons you think either.

Jake Westbrook has been solid but now he is headed to the disabled list for at least a month.

While Borowski is a little closer to returning, it was found out he will be out at least a month since the time he was first placed on the disabled list. Jake Westbrook will also have to spend at least four weeks there.

Both pitchers take a hit to the strong depth of the Indians staff. Borowski's injury has caused a bullpen shuffle, elevating guys like Jorge Julio into more crucial roles, and so far he hasn't handled it well.

That has caused Rafael Perez to be used as early as the sixth inning.

Jake Westbrook's injury, combined with a rain out of the second game against Kansas City, caused the Indians to adjust their rotation and call upon not one, but two Buffalo starters.

Jeremy Sowers pitched well in his debut against the Yankees, but Aaron Laffey will also have to be called up to make the start on Monday.

Hopefully this pair can get back on the field soon, they only make the Tribe pitching staff deeper.

Second Down: Travis Hafner

You hate to see Travis down, especially since it really isn't because of his hitting.

While he is only hitting .206 over the past two weeks, and leading the team in strikeouts, Hafner is being bothered by a sore shoulder.

It caused him to miss a game in Minnesota, and ever since he started the next day you can tell something is just preventing him to swing the bat like we know he can.

He has hit a home run and knocked in six runs since the 14th of April, but his shoulder is causing him to tighten up at the plate and only try and swing at balls inside. He can't go the other way and it is very noticeable.

Third Down: Grady Sizemore

Two of the Indians most important offensive players are down?

While Sizemore has struggled at the plate the past few weeks, there is more to this selection.

Sizemore's 382 consecutive games played streak came to an end on Sunday when he failed to play against the Yankees.

Eric Wedge has sat him in the past, but usually found a way to get him in the game and keep the streak alive.

This time though, Wedge couldn't do that and Sizemore's streak was put to a halt.

Sizemore got hurt in what was described as a "strained" or "sore" right ankle.

While Grady was hitting .217 over the past two weeks, he did start to turn it on before the injury, knocking in four runs in his past five games, including a home run against the Royals.

Hopefully the injury is one that doesn't lag on Sizemore, and he can start up a new streak as soon as possible.


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