Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Don't the Cleveland Indians have enough to deal with?
For a franchise looking for its first World Series title in 67 years, the last thing it needed was to head into the season being picked by Sports Illustrated to win it all. Now I'm not one who believes in jinxes, but it's hard to argue with the hex that goes along with, one, being picked by the magazine to win the Series, and, two, just being on the cover period.
Has anyone seen Tony Mandarich around lately?
Anyway, the hype certainly was warranted for the Indians. SI was far from the only one to jump on their bandwagon. In fact, they were as trendy a pick as anyone heading into the season and a certain MLB writer actually picked them to unseat the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
So why all the hoopla?
Well, the Indians had not only the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner in Corey Kluber, but also a top-three finalist the MVP Award in Michael Brantley.
And Kluber wasn't even their best pitcher down the stretch. It was a righty named Carlos Carrasco, who was not only the Tribe's best pitcher over the final two months, he led every pitcher in the game over his final 10 starts with a 1.30 ERA.
Like I said, I don't believe in jinxes, but it's hard to argue with what has happened in the early going with Cleveland.
Cleveland took two of three from the Houston Astros to start the season and did so in impressive fashion as Carrasco fired 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his debut and the Indians nearly combined for a no-hitter in the series finale.
The only loss was on Opening Day and Kluber was tremendous in that one.
But, the Indians returned home last weekend and looked awful. As good as the pitching was through the first three games, it was just as bad in the next three as the Detroit Tigers pushed 25 runs across the plate.
It would have been a nice early season statement series by an Indians team that has some lofty expectations, but what are you going to do? The Tigers are the Tigers. Plus, Cleveland was going to give the ball to Carrasco on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
No problem, right?
Well, then the SI jinx took over, as Carrasco lasted two batters. Melky Cabrera ripped a liner up the middle that appeared to partially hit Carrasco's hand and glove before striking his face. Carrasco collapsed face-down at the front of the mound and remained there before sitting up and getting carted off the field.
"He went through all the tests... and there is no fracture. It is a contusion to a bruise to the jaw. And a pretty good one," Cleveland manger Terry Francona said of Carrasco's injury. "Obviously, we have to check him in the morning. But in the big picture, we probably dodged a bullet."
Needless to say, the Indians lost the game and were on the verge of losing their first five games at home to start a season since, well, ever. Actually, it hasn't happen since the franchise was known as the Cleveland Broncos in 1902.
Oh, Twitter was a fun place to be moments after Carrasco was being taken off the field. Tribe fans were certainly aware of whatever jinx there might be and let's just say this, they won't be renewing any subscriptions to Sports Illustrated anytime soon.
But, alas there is some good news.
Carrasco is going to be OK. He will have his next start pushed back a day, but he should be ready to go on Monday. And that losing streak? That is a thing of the past, too, thanks to the pitcher Cleveland hopes will be this year's breakout star, Trevor Bauer.
Bauer tossed six no-hit innings in his debut, but had to leave that start against the Astros because he threw too many pitches. He started Wednesday's game against the White Sox by throwing three more hitless innings.
If you are keeping score, not only did he throw nine hitless innings, he also fanned 15 batters in that time.
Bauer surrendered a hit to Jose Abreu to start the fourth, but only allowed four hits and two runs over six innings and struck out eight to nail down his second win of the season.
And just like that, the good feelings are back in Cleveland.
Like I said, I don't believe in jinxes.