The All-Star Game marks the unofficial midpoint of the baseball season. It is a good time to take stock of your favorite team.
Fans of the Cleveland Indians can look back at the first half of the 2011 season with pleasure. No one expected the Tribe to be in contention, yet the team has held first place in the American League for most of the season. Although a late stumble leaves the Tribe a half game behind Detroit at the All-Star break, every Indians fan has to admit that the team has exceeded expectations.
The success hasn’t come without a struggle. Asdrubal Cabrera, who leads the Indians in virtually every offensive category, has had a great season, but the team often has had to scratch and claw for runs and count on pitching and defense to pull them through — and the pitching and defense, for the most part, has done so. Starters Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have pitched extremely well, and Carlos Carrasco had a stretch where he was close to unhittable. The bullpen has been reliable and closer Chris Perez already has notched 21 saves. The defense has been stout. And manager Manny Acta and his staff have done a good job of molding and motivating the team.
There is still a lot of baseball to be played, of course, and we could well see the 2011 edition of the Tribe fade into oblivion — or we could see the bats in the Wigwam heat up and keep the team in contention until the season’s end. It will make the second half of the season a lot more interesting than Cleveland fans had any right to expect.