Royals reliever Vin Mazzaro didn’t do much relieving Monday night against the Indians as he put together a pitching line for the ages…

V. Mazzaro 2.1 11 14 14 3 2 1 3.79 22.74

Yes, that’s 2.1 innings with 11 hits and 14 earned runs. The Indians put up a 10-run fourth inning all against Mazzaro, and the Royals decided to leave him in for the entire disaster of an inning. Plus, they let him come out for the fifth where he promptly gave up another four runs. How do you leave him out there to suffer a line like this?

Now there’s something you don’t see everyday in baseball. If you’re wondering when the last time a reliever gave up 14 earned runs in a single outing, it was during WWII in 1942 when Les McCrabb gave up 14 ER in 4.0 innings of work against Boston while pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics.

Since 1919 there have only been four relievers to give up this many runs in one game:

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Les McCrabb 1942-04-16 PHA BOS L 4-19 4.0 14 14 14 2 0 2 31.50
Carl Doyle 1940-06-08 BRO CIN L 2-23 4.0 16 14 14 4 2 1 31.50
Dutch Schesler 1931-07-11 (1) PHI NYG L 5-23 8.0 22 16 14 0 1 4 15.75
Nelson Greene 1925-06-20 BRO PIT L 5-21 6.2 18 15 15 3 0 3 20.25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/16/2011.

Not the kind of list you want to be a part of. And the Indians are up 19-1 at the moment and it’s only the sixth inning. The Tribe could continue to shatter some records tonight…or the Royals for that matter.

AL CENTRAL STANDINGS (as of May 2nd)

Indians        19-8        —
Royals         15-13     4.0
Tigers          12-15     6.5
White Sox  10-19    9.5
Twins            9-18     9.5

Yes, I know…it’s early. It’s only May 1st, but the Indians winning while the Tigers, White Sox and Twins lose has become a common occurrence in this early season. It’s been so common that the Indians are threatening to run away with a huge division lead. They finished the weekend by sweeping the Tigers right out of Cleveland to move to 19-8.

So do the Indians actually have a legitimate shot at winning the title. YES.

It has just as much to do with this Indians team as it does with the way the rest of the division is playing. Did you know that the Tribe currently leads the American League in offense? Probably not, but they are first with a .272 batting average and first in runs with 141. The lineup had the potential to be solid, but I’m not sure if anyone saw this coming. Young guys like Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley are healthy and producing while Travis Hafner is having a resurgence of a year. Grady Sizemore has also returned and given the Tribe a boost with a .379/.429/.822 slash line.

The surprising part about Cleveland so far this year is its pitching. They are fourth in the AL with a 3.49 ERA. The Tribe’s worst starter to date has been their ace to start the season in Fausto Carmona, who sits with a 5.15 ERA. But they are receiving stellar pitching performances from Josh Tomlin (4-0, 2.45), Mitch Talbot (1-0, 1.46) and Justin Masterson (5-0, 2.18). Masterson was always a high prospect of the Red Sox and showed shades of brilliance last year, but looks like he may be finally putting it all together. The question for this team will be can Tomlin/Talbot put together a full, solid season and can Carmona bounce back from his early struggles.

So there’s the breakdown of why the Indians are winning, but another reason they have a real shot at the AL Central title is because the rest of the division is floundering at the moment. The Tigers are looking like just an ordinary .500 team with not enough offense, starting pitching and a sketchy bullpen. The Twins seem to have run out of some of their magic and the White Sox are in the process of burying themselves early again. When a team is struggling early, you just can’t allow yourself to get buried in April and May, but the White Sox and Twins are already nine games below .500.

Last year, the White Sox started off 24-33 (nine games down as well), they did rebound to end up with 88 wins and a battle for the pennant, but they also went on a ridiculous run where they went 26-5 in a stretch of 30-plus games in June and July. Can you rely on something like that again? I’m not so sure. I think they will eventually turn it around, but I don’t know if they can get back and compete for the division.

That leaves the Royals, who like the Indians are a surprise team so far this season. Along with the Indians, they are the only other team above .500 in the Central though they haven’t been quite as exciting as the Tribe. The Royals have a lot of young talent that will hopefully help turn the corner of baseball in Kansas City, but I just don’t see this team hanging in a division hunt down the stretch.

Coupled with this talented Indians team and how the rest of the division is playing, I think the Tribe have a great shot at challenging the division. Pundits will still go with the “it’s still early” line and think the Twins and White Sox will still battle for this division. They is definitely possible, but at some point you can’t continue to use the early line and need to start stringing together some wins and actually look like a Major League team in the process, which the Twins and White Sox have not looked like so this year.

Rolling right along in my 2010 picture series is my trip to Progressive Field in Cleveland in June 2010 to see the Indians host the Red Sox.

Indians-Red Sox - June 9, 2010

I have been to Progressive Jacobs Field many times before, and I always end up enjoying it. The ballpark usually gets forgotten in the talk of top ballparks out there, but compared to everything else in that city, that is one place I want to visit as much as I can.

And on that night, June 9, 2010, the game showcased how a bad team could smack around a good team. Justin Masterson fired a two-hitter against his former team and the Tribe put up an eight spot in the 8th inning, which included a grand slam by Travis Hafner. The Indians cruised to an 11-0 drubbing of Boston. The game even featured a Boof Bonser sighting! You can read more about my account of that game here.

Indians catching prospect has had an interesting couple of months in the big leagues. He made his ML debut on June 11 and has been hitting the ball fairly well for a rookie (.265/.404/.476) with 13 doubles and six homers in 45 games.

In his third career game, do you remember the play where Adam Dunn annihilated Santana at home plate when he didn’t see him coming? That was brutal. Fortunately for him that game, Santana was not seriously injured.

Well now this from Monday night in Boston. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

If you watch that video and don’t immediately begin hurling obscenities left and right then you may have problems. Ryan Kalish and Santana meet at home plate on a violent collision that rips Santana’s knee/ankle apart. Early word is he’s out for the year with a torn ACL. Tough year, kid.

MLB fans, GMs and players can now breathe again—the trading deadline has officially passed. Need a recap on everything went down? Here are some trade links to do just that…

MLB Trade Rumors is the authority on the trading deadline, and the folks over there put together a nice rundown of all the trades from the past couple of days.

MLB.com also runs down the plethora of trades today.

Jayson Stark of ESPN gives his winners and losers of the trading deadline.

Big League Stew of Yahoo! ranks the top 10 notable trades from this July.

I had to get my hometown Pirates in here as they were busy as usual on the deadline. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recaps the three trades the Buccos made today. From my viewpoint, the Pirates made some low-risk free agent pickups in the offseason and flipped most of them for some decent, young talent today. Not bad in my book.

Am I the only one who didn’t like the Jake Westbrook deal for the Cardinals? I mean parting with young hitter Ryan Ludwick for Westbrook when they also went after Oswalt and Lilly and end up with Westbrook. Seems like they panicked to me and settled for the lesser of three pitchers. I could see Westbrook find his groove against NL hitters, but it’s still a downgrade after losing out on Oswalt and Lilly.

Speaking of the Indians, they found a taker for Kerry Wood!?! The Tribe sent the struggling closer to the Yankees for a player to be named later or 500k. Uh, I’m pretty sure that cash will work just fine. I could see the Indians going to the Yankees in the offseason and say, “You know what, don’t bother sending anyone for the deal. We’re good.”

FanGraphs breaks down the Octavio Dotel trade to the Dodgers and wonders, along with many, what the Dodgers are doing giving up too much for bullpen arms, including a top prospect in Andrew Lambo now with Pittsburgh.

Also, the Reds stood pat and made zero moves. Interesting. After trading for Yunel Escobar earlier this month, the Blue Jays also were quiet at the deadline along with the Tigers, Mets, A’s (Billy Beane must have been sick), Brewers (they’re in contention though, that’s it), Red Sox and Rockies.

Well the non-waiver trade deadline gone, tomorrow is August 1 and back to our regularly scheduled program of baseball while teams battle for pennants the last two months of the season.

There were numerous deals throughout the league on Friday. Let’s recap in the order that they were announced:

White Sox Acquire Edwin Jackson from Arizona
The Diamondbacks fire sale continues and believe it or not, but they may have picked up a better return for Edwin Jackson than they did for Dan Haren.I’m not sure what the D-Backs franchise plan is at the moment, but they seem to love trading for mid-rotation starters and then trading them away.

Jackson was traded for the fourth time of his career for pitcher Dan Hudson (No. 66 top prospect according to Baseball America) and low-level minor leaguer David Holmberg. Hudson is a great pickup for Arizona, but I’m not certain that they didn’t have more with Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth when they traded the two of them to Detroit last December for Jackson. I still think they should have held onto Scherzer. Despite throwing a no-hitter earlier this year with about 45 walks, Jackson isn’t having a very good season with a 5.16 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and a 4.0 BB/9. Forgetting about the deal last year, this stand alone deal was a good one for Arizona. Jackson will provide the White Sox some rotation depth with the loss of Jake Peavy as they battle the Twins for the AL Central title, but I can’t help thinking they gave up way too much in this deal. Though there’s also rumors going around that their plan is to flip Jackson around to the Nationals for maybe Adam Dunn? Crazy shit going down right here.

Rangers pick up Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman
Yesterday, the Rangers dealt for Marlins first baseman Jorge Cantu for two Double-A pitcher (Evan Reed and Omar Poveda) and today they added speedy infielder Cristian Guzman. Texas will send another couple of Double-A pitchers in Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark, which begs the question of who’s left at Double-A Frisco?

Guzman could have waived his 10-and-5 rights, but agreed to the trade. Guzman is hitting .282/.327/.361 while playing shortstop, second base and right field. Cantu has 10 home runs, 54 RBI and a slash line of .262/.310/.409 in 97 games. The Marlins may also not be done dealing as it looks like Cody Ross is also available. Neither of these guys (Cantu and Guzman) are going to single-handily win a division title for the Rangers, but they provide the team depth, experience and someone to play first base.

Yankees Bring Berkman to the Bronx
First the Yankees acquired Austin Kearns for a player to be named later from Cleveland. They like his right-handed bat. Ah, whatever. The next deal will make headlines. The Yankees continued to wheel and deal, trading for long-time Astros slugger Lance Berkman. In exchange, the Astros got reliever Mark Melancon and low-level minor league infielder Jimmy Paredes. Apparently after years and years of thinking they were still in the hunt, the Astros have finally given up the fight and are selling, selling, selling.

For some reason the Astros are sending about $4MM to cover part of Berkman’s salary for this year. Isn’t one of the prominent reasons to trade with the Yankees is that they have no payroll and will pay anyone and anything to play for them?

This trade will make big headlines in New York, but it would have been great had it been two years ago when Berkman was hitting like Lance Berkman. He’s currently in mist of a disappointing season with 13 home runs, 49 RBI and a slash line of .245/.372/.436 through 85 games. And I swear most of those home runs and runs batted in were against the Pirates this season. He’ll play DH for the Yankees and is an obvious upgrade over Colin Curtis, who has been playing there. Plus, the big guy still gets on base with 60 walks in 85 games for a .372 OBP. Berkman has the 10-and-5 rights, but waived his no trade clause in this deal, which he did when the White Sox attempted to get him.

There are the deals that went down today with possibly another one on the way with twitter blowing up right now on how the Dodgers are close to acquiring Ted Lilly from Chicago. Now does Paul Maholm go anywhere or Adam Dunn or Jose Bautista? Ah, the trade deadline. Don’t you just love it?

Imagine for a minute that it’s your major league debut, and you’re slated to face the New York freakin’ Yankees, a lineup that features Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, etc. Not to mention there’s all this additional hype and excitement around A-Rod possibly belting home run number 600 against you. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, not if you’re not Indians rookie pitcher Josh Tomlin. Tomlin made his ML debut Tuesday night and promptly shut down the Yanks for 7.0 plus innings to pick up the W in a 4-1 victory for Cleveland.

The 19th round pick of the Indians in 2006 went 7.0 plus strong innings, allowing just three hits, one run while striking out two and walking none. Tomlin actually faced the minimum through six innings. Incredible.

I began wondering how many pitchers making their ML debut mowed down the Yankees in the history of the game. Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I searched for pitchers who picked up the win against the Yankees and their ML debut with zero or one run allowed. Since 1920, this has occurred 12 times…

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit GSc
1 1 Josh Tomlin 2010-07-27 CLE NYY W 4-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 0 93 69
2 1 Koji Uehara 2009-04-08 BAL NYY W 7-5 GS-5 ,W 5.0 5 1 1 1 0 0 86 52
3 1 Anibal Sanchez 2006-06-25 (2) FLA NYY W 5-0 GS-6 ,W 5.2 7 0 0 0 2 0 96 57
4 1 Brian Sikorski 2000-08-16 TEX NYY W 5-0 GS-7 ,W 7.0 4 0 0 4 5 0 108 70
5 1 Paul Rigdon 2000-05-21 CLE NYY W 6-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 2 0 0 4 2 0 92 71
6 1 Jason Dickson 1996-08-21 CAL NYY W 7-1 GS-7 ,W 6.1 10 1 1 2 1 1 48
7 1 Vaughn Eshelman 1995-05-02 BOS NYY W 8-0 GS-6 ,W 6.0 3 0 0 2 1 0 62 65
8 1 Pat Rice 1991-05-18 SEA NYY W 4-1 GS-6 ,W 5.2 2 0 0 0 3 0 75 68
9 1 Billy Rohr 1967-04-14 BOS NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 5 2 0 82
10 1 Luis Tiant 1964-07-19 (2) CLE NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 4 11 0 86
11 1 Charlie Beamon 1956-09-26 BAL NYY W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 7 9 0 81
12 1 Clem Dreisewerd 1944-08-29 (1) BOS NYY W 8-1 9.0 6 1 1 1 2 0 72
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/29/2010.

Koji Uehara of the Orioles was the most recent to accomplish this last season in the second game of 2009 on April 8. Uehara only went 5.0 innings, but still got the win in a 7-5 O’s victory. Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez turned the trick in game 2 of a doubleheader in 2006. Of the 12 games, eight of them occurred since 1991, and of those eight games only two had better game scores than Tomlin’s 69 on Tuesday night.

Also, besides the recent names of Sanchez and Uehara, who are still both active, most of the pitchers on this list only lasted a couple of seasons in the bigs. The exception being Luis Tiant, the only notable name on this list. Tiant won 229 games in 19 major league seasons, was selected to three All-Star teams, and along with Tomlin, also owned the Yankees in his first start while wearing an Indians jersey in 1964. Paul Rigdon also did it with the Indians in 2000. Must be something about those Indians rookies that strike fear into the Yankees.

On the flip side, Mariners pitcher Pat Rice appeared in only seven games at the major league level. His first ever start against the Yankees on May 18, 1991 was his only win of his career. Strangely enough, he suffered his first and only loss in his last ML appearance. Today, Rice is the pitching coach of Triple-A Fresno in the Giants organization.

No matter what road Tomlin’s career heads down, he shook off the nervousness of his first start and will always be down in the books as shutting down the Bronx Bombers.