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Cleveland rocks with Strasburg fever

Jun 11, 2010, 3:10 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The merchandise stand … in Cleveland, not Washington.

CLEVELAND — Hello from the shores of Lake Erie, where there's plenty of sports talk going on these days. LeBron James' pending departure. Tom Izzo's potential arrival. Ohio State's projected new rivals in the Big Ten (which currently has 11 teams but will soon have 12, or 14, or even 16).

But the story that may trump them all this weekend is the one that has already gripped Washington for the last week: Stephen Strasburg.

Yes, they've got the fever here in Cleveland. Tickets to Sunday's series finale at Progressive Field are going like hotcakes. The Indians have already sold an extra 8,000 seats since Tuesday, and folks around here wouldn't be surprised if it ends up a sellout by the time 1 p.m. Sunday rolls around.

Even my cab driver from the airport was breathless with Strasburg-mania. "If I could go to that game, I would, but I gotta work Sunday," he said. "Maybe I'll call in sick."

The Indians themselves aren't exactly enrapturing the fan base so far this season. Manny Acta's club is 23-36, sits in last place in the AL Central and trails the Twins by 11 1/2 games. The Tribe also ranks last in the majors in attendance, averaging only 15,658 fans per game. It can't help that their leading hitter — honest to god — is Austin Kearns. He's hitting .303 with five homers, 27 RBI and an .865Read more »

  1. Souldrummer - Jun 11, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Dare I say it. The unthinkable? Could we have a hostile Nats takeover of an opposing ballpark. Heady times my friends, heady times.

  2. Tcostant - Jun 11, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    You know I checked on-line for fun, and there seem to be great seats left (think lower level behind 3rd base).I let my brother's wife know, that she needed to contact her family in OH and tell them to go Sunday.Wish I was there, but Tuesday was sure fun! :)

  3. Doc - Jun 11, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Mark, wad ya think of Morse's performance last night? Given the issues of offense and defense, doesn't an outfield of Morse in RF and Bernadina in CF make more sense than the combination of Morgan and anyone else?

  4. NatinBeantown - Jun 11, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Anyone know anything about Carlos Santana, who MLBTR is saying has been called up for tonight? (I could wait for Mark's series preview in a few hours, but I'm bored now, dammit)Another alumni update, Daniel Cabrera signed a minor league deal with the Angels. That guy has the greatest agent alive.

  5. N. Cognito - Jun 11, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    FYI…Visitor's dugout is on the first base side.

  6. NatinBeantown - Jun 11, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    No sooner do I ask about Santana do I realize I just saw the kid play in person in Columbus a month ago, going 3-4 with a double. The kid can rake… just turned 24, switch-hitter, has gone from A to MLB in 2 years, an OPS over 1.000 in his jump to AAA this year. Could become a fixture behind the plate for the Tribe. Lots of exciting player debuts this week!

  7. Mr. Doggett - Jun 11, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    NatinBeantown, I had to laugh out loud when I read, "That guy has the greatest agent alive." Spot on. Reminds me of the movie Zoolander: "Mugatu is so hot right now he could take a crap, wrap it in tinfoil, put a couple fish hooks on it and sell it to Queen Elizabeth as earrings."

  8. meixler - Jun 11, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    It will certainly be interesting to see who all those fans at sundays game will be rooting for.

  9. peric - Jun 11, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Hah my man Morse rocked the Pittsburgh series … if only Riggleman weren't so stubborn about playing .150 hitter Harris, Guzman in right, JMax losing his job to Boomer Whiting, even Tavares? So, Morse gets a haircut and he gets to play? What's up with Riggleman?

  10. alexva - Jun 11, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    @Doc – IMO, if our future centerfielder is currently on this team, it's Bernadina not Morgan. I'm not sure yet if he is the answer, but I'm pretty sure Morgan isn't.

  11. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Hi – Anybody have confirmation about both teams wearing 1920 "throwback" uniforms for Saturday's game?

  12. Doc - Jun 11, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    And further….. Bernadina is a defensive upgrade from Morgan. Offensively, Bernadina has more power potential. Only Riggleman seems to disagree. I can't believe that Rizzo (former scout) wouldn't agree with us Morse-Bernadina fans!

  13. Bowdenball - Jun 11, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    I don't think Shin-Soo Choo would agree with your characterization of Austin Kearns as Cleveland's "leading hitter." They've got identical slash lines, but Choo has done it in more games, which means more HRs, RBIs, XBH, and so on.Also, he's been good for longer than just the last two months. Kearns, as we all know, has not been.

  14. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    I think it is fascinating to see how down people are on Morgan (prematurely IMO) after nearly reserving a spot in Cooperstown for him last fall (also a bit early)…He was a phenomenal spark plug for us last year and I think is working his way out of a funk now… Be at least a LITTLE patient, people.

  15. MM - Jun 11, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    is Strassy near any kind of consecutive K record yet?

  16. D'Gourds - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    Good for Kearns–good guy–just never did crap for us. Wish him well.

  17. N. Cognito - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    MM said… "is Strassy near any kind of consecutive K record yet?"Google is your friend. You can have the answer in less than 15 seconds as I got it.I'll give you a break this time. 10 by Tom Seaver, in 1970.

  18. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Santana came over in that awful Casey Blake deal. You thought Jim Bowden was bad? Meet Ned Coletti!At least he didn't trade Austin or the Stras.

  19. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    "Hi – Anybody have confirmation about both teams wearing 1920 "throwback" uniforms for Saturday's game?"Don't know about that, but the Nats will apparently be wearing 1970 Senators throwback unis when they play up in Baltimore to help the Orioles celebrate the 40th anniversary of that pennant year. Hopefully that will not cause the teams to play like the 1970 version of themselves, or that could get ugly for the Nats.

  20. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    Souldrummer said… Dare I say it. The unthinkable? Could we have a hostile Nats takeover of an opposing ballpark. Heady times my friends, heady times. WHAT!? My guess is Ohians are curious what the next big thing NOT cheer for the Nats. I would be surprised if there are over two dozen Nats fans in atttendance!

  21. alexva - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    @ Anon 1:46 – I understand a hitting slump but watching him continue to throw the ball around the field when he has no chance to get the runner is killing me. I would be patient if I did not think that we have a greater potential option in Bernadina.

  22. Tcostant - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    MM said… is Strassy near any kind of consecutive K record yet? Me: I don't know about that, but I do know that when Tom Seaver had his 19 strike out game, he ended the game with 10 strike outs in a row. I have no idea if he starter the next game with more, but he is at least three off that.

  23. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Adam, Why are the Nats keeping Strasburg to an every fifth day instead of every fifth game schedule? I assume they are trying to get his arm and head accustomed to pitching in the bigs, but nobody pitches every fifth day in the bigs.

  24. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    THIS Nat fan will be in attendance.

  25. NattyLite - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    I think that Nyjer's hitting and fielding problems are related. He hasn't been doing anything at the plate, so he is trying to do too much in the field. I wouldn't mind seeing Morse get more ABs while he is hot, but I think an all-out benching of Nyjer would be a little premature and would probably not help him find his form at the plate (or in the field).It seems like Bernadina has really been seeing the ball well over the past week; it would be nice if he keeps it up.

  26. NattyLite - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    Also, while a Nat takeover of Cleveland is probably unrealistic, it would be nice if we could send even 1/2 the number of Phillies fans who were here on Opening Day to Citizens Bank Park when the teams play in August. I would love to see Strasburg (or anyone else) shut them down in their own park.

  27. A DC Wonk - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    10 by Tom Seaver, in 1970.Hey — I saw the end of that game. (On TV). Against the Padres — it was his 19-K game, and he struck out the last 10 in a row. (Recall, the Pads just game into the league in 1969, and weren't very good)Why are the Nats keeping Strasburg to an every fifth day instead of every fifth game schedule?The reason given in the paper was to give the other starters a bit more rest, until the All Star Break.It made some sense when I was reading it — but as I'm thinking about that now, it's the relievers that need rest, not the starters! I'd guess that over 50% of the Nats' starts were for less than 7 innings. (Anybody know that one?)

  28. Bowdenball - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Anon 2:37-I'm not Adam or Mark, but I can take a crack at this one for you:The team's two chief, related goals are (1) to win; and (2) to make money. Putting him on an every fifth day schedule for only a month or so does both.(1) It gets them an extra pre-ASG start while the rotation is a mess. Then they can rest him more when guys like Detwiler, Olsen, Marquis, Wang, etc. return. One more Strasburg start, and therefore one less Martin/Atilino start is worth, what, a half a win?(2) It gets them an extra home start for him by giving him two home starts on the next home stand- the 18th and 23rd. Otherwise he pitches in Baltimore on the 25th or 26th.If you can accomplish both of these without harm to Strasburg- and I think you can, since we can limit his innings and we have a solid bullpen to back him up after he goes 6 or so each time out- why the heck not?

  29. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Confirmed…I pulled this nugget straight from the Indians' website… "Saturday, June 12 @ 7:05pm – Choo Bobblehead/Turn Back The Clock/Expanded Kids Fun Day/MLB PHR Competition.It's a 1920's time warp during tonight's game! BOTH THE INDIANS AND NATIONALS WILL BE WEARING THE RETRO 1920's UNIFORMS, the scoreboard and all at-bat music will be themed by this era. All fans to receive a Shin-Soo Choo Bobblehead, presented by Fifth Third Bank."

  30. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Regarding CF and Morgan v Bernadina:I really enjoyed watching Nyjer Morgan play center last year–his play made me surprised that the Pirates traded him.But after a larger sample, I too am beginning to question his long-term role in center.I'm not worried about his .254 batting average. He is a lifetime .292 (I think) hitter and by seasons end, will probably be hitting in the mid .280's or so.What worries me are the same things that worried me about Lastings Milledge. That is, he doesn't seem to have baseball common sense. He gets picked off first too often. He tends to break many of the Cardinal rules of baseball on a regular basis. He takes unusual routes in center and uses his speed to make up for misjudging too many balls.If Bernadina could hit .275/.350/.450 and not be embarassed by lefties (as Morgan is), I'd much rather have him in center. Now, we need to go get Corey Hart and all will be well.Farid

  31. David - Jun 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Austin Kearns has walked 24 times, but struck out 54, that .865 OPS will be in the 700s by the All-Star Break.And speaking of OPS, why no mention that Ryan Zimmerman is leading the NL in this stat – 22 points ahead of Pujols?

  32. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    If "Guzzy" gets "hot" Riggleman bends over backwards to find him a spot. Even if he doesn't fit … see Guzman in right field. Morse is hitting .417 with a .500 OBP. He sits for .176 hitter Willie Harris. There is definitely something wrong with this picture because Guzman is not so hot batting left handed against right handed pitching. He has no power to speak of unlike Morse. Just seems like there is something wrong here … Morse cuts his hair, changes his name to "Michael", hits .417 with power to get into a game. Riggs, what does it take dude? What in Rizzo's name does it take with you?

  33. Carl in 309 - Jun 11, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    Consensus: Nats do not have the outfield they want.Discussion points: Whose the better CF today, Morgan or Bernadina? Do we have better options for RF? Is Morgan worth the trouble?I can't count myself among those who believe Bernadina is an improvement in CF. He's barely played there, and generally has not had to deal with the miscues in that position that were so glaringly problematic for Morgan. And Bernadina has his own problems judging the ball in RF (see blown save for Capps on the weekend); is not proven as a lead-off or #2 batter.While we can't know Bernadina's performance in CF until and unless he's played there, I'm unsure what the evidence is that he would be an upgrade in that position.I share readers' concerns about hitting the cut-off man and making accurate throws (neither of these guys appears to have a cannon for an arm). Distressing that a guy who emphasizes fundamentals (Riggleman) hasn't gotten a little more into the heads of Morgan and Bernadina in that regard. Perhaps Morse represents a more realistic option in RF–but again, he's only just come back to the team and one game–as encouraging as it was–does not a starter make (unless your last name is Strasburg).I agree we ought to have an upgrade at RF as soon as is practical (how and when we get it will depend on whether we need it this year or next)–may that occur sooner rather than later.

  34. Carl in 309 - Jun 11, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    By the way, cool photo of souvenir stand at Cleveland park park! Another example of when a photo tells a story of a 1000 words! [And what a comment on the state of the Indians that they feature "our" merchandise!]





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