If you would have told me that the Cleveland Indians were going to be 4-2 five days ago, I'd have laughed you under the rock you just crawled out of. I half think that I would have laughed had you said 2-4. Somehow, the Indians have righted the ship behind solid starting pitching, a rock-solid bullpen, solid play from supposedly un-solid acquisitions, and some great "feel" calls from Manny Acta.
I don't know if the Cleveland Indians are going to be contenders this year, or even next year. I don't know if the starting pitching is going to hold up all season, or head to Seattle and give up 40 runs in three games. I don't know if Manny Acta is going to continue making the right calls against the grain, or if by next Friday, the masses will be calling for his job.
What I do know is that Cleveland Indians baseball has been fun to watch, and none more fun than today's sweeping victory against the struggling Boston Red Sox.
Today, the tipping of the cap starts with Fausto Carmona. Carmona got beat into submission last weekend against Chicago, and looked a lot like the guy that made us cringe in 2008 and 2009. No, he didn't get the win, and he may not even have been the best starter today (Jon Lester struck out nine, giving up three hits and three walks in seven scoreless innings), but he was his old viscous self.
Carmona pummeled the strike zone with his dancing sinker, and the Red Sox couldn't do a thing with it. Carmona gave up two hits, singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro in the third and fifth respectively. He walked only two batters, and struck out four in his seven scoreless innings. He threw 18 first pitch strikes to his 25 batters, and induced 9 ground balls. He wasn't quite dominant, but pretty darn close. If this is the Carmona we get for the rest of the season, I'll take it in a heartbeat.
Enter the bullpen. Chad Durbin came in the game, and likely continued his path out of Cleveland, giving up a single and a walk after getting his only out. Enter Rafael Perez, who was brought in to face Carl Crawford with runners on first and second, and one out. Perez induced Crawford into a weak grounder to third in which Brooks Robinson...er...Adam Everett fielded cleanly charging in, and nailed Crawford for the second out. The runners advanced, and all hope was surely lost...right?
Surely, Perez would purposely walk Dustin Pedroia to load the bases with first open, and newly acquired Adrian Gonzalez would jack one out of the park. That's when crazy happened. Manny Acta let Raffy pitch to Pedroia?! A cruddy chopper to...you guessed it...Raffy, and the inning was over, and all was right with the world. Of course, it was still 0-0, but the Indians miraculously made it through an inning with two runners in scoring position.
Adam Everett led off the bottom half of the eighth with a walk. With Orlando Cabrera squaring up to bunt, Everett stole second. Cabrera then did bunt, and Everett moved to third. The funny thing is I actually laughed thinking...wouldn't it be funny if they bunted again, and scored on a suicide squeeze?
Up came Asdrubal Cabrera, and sure enough, down came the bunt, and sure enough, Everett scored the first and only run of the game. Back-to-back big games for A-Cab...from a three-run jack, to a one-run sac. After the three seasons we've had, it felt like the world series again.
In came Chris Perez to face off against the meat of the Red Sox order, and more hilarity ensued. Perez retired Gonzalez and Youkilis with ground balls, but of course, it's never really over, is it? David Ortiz drew a walk, and up came J.D. Drew. Drew hit a high-chopper to Everett, who looked at first, didn't have the play...then pulled up, looking for an out at second base.
Sure enough, pinch runner Darnell McDonald flew around second as though he were going to try and score, and there was Everett waiting for it. A quick throw to Cabrera, a close play at second, and the final out of the game.
In all honesty, it seemed like some sort of wacky episode of The Twilight Zone, but either way, the Indians get the win. Is it hustle? Is it luck? Is it just fine play? Is it all of the above? I don't know, but whatever it is, it sure is fun to watch.