For years, I didn’t like the designated hitter. I also had an affinity for catchers who stuck with the traditional mask. Hitters who didn’t wear batting gloves were my favorites, along with players who wore high socks. I have always loved the long history of the game and the traditions that have been established through the decades.
I love the Triple Crown, I really do. I never thought I’d see a hitter accomplish the feat in my lifetime. It takes such a blend of skills: hitting for average, but still having enough power to produce home runs and the kind of poise it takes to drive runners home to pile up runs batted in at critical points.
Miguel Cabrera is a special hitter and the Detroit third baseman showed just how special a hitter he is by capturing the American League Triple Crown this season. He’d led the league in average, home runs and RBI in separate years, but finally paced his peers in each category in the same season. No one had done that since Yaz in 1967.
This is why, in my heart, I hope Cabrera wins the AL Most Valuable Player Award. There is something magical about winning the Triple Crown, and Cabrera should be rewarded accordingly. Like I said, though, that’s my heart talking.
Anyone who has followed my writing over the years knows my love of statistics and historical perspective. There is plenty to dive into as far as Cabrera’s season is concerned, but I have a problem. The more I dissect the data, the more I delve into the digits, the more I break down the historical elements of the 2012 season, the more my brain tells me that Cabrera should not win the MVP.
I don’t have a vote, but if I did, I would cast it for Angels outfielder Mike Trout. That’s my brain speaking.
It seriously pains me a little to write that, because I really, really do love the Triple Crown.
In my version of a perfect world, Cabrera and Trout would wind up as co-MVPs so both of their seasons could be honored in a way where one isn’t pushed slightly to the side in the history books.
Let’s take a look at some aspects of this polarizing argument.
Cabrera has the edge in games and plate appearances, but you can’t really fault Trout for the fact that the Angels waited to promote him. It is also worth noting that L.A. took off after Trout’s arrival. The Tigers made the playoffs and the Angels didn’t, but L.A. ended with more wins. Again, you can’t fault Trout for the Angels playing in a tougher division than Detroit.
Looking at some of the traditional numbers, Cabrera gets the obvious edge in average, home runs, doubles, hits, extra-base hits, total bases and runs batted in. Trout struck out more, but he also drew more walks and stole a significant higher amount of bases, and he did both in 22 fewer games and 58 fewer plate appearances.
If we’re going to get into “clutch” stats, well, Cabrera has a bit of a leg up.
He had a .714 OPS with two strikes, a .784 OPS when behind in the count, a 1.005 OPS with runners in scoring position, a 1.029 OPS with two outs and a 1.211 OPS with RISP and two outs. Trout’s OPS for the same situations was .699, .657, .951, .986 and .782.
It is also worth noting that Cabrera hit .343/1.083 in his final 35 games of the season, while Trout hit just .269/.824 over his final 37 games. That said, the Angels (24-13) posted a better record than the Tigers (19-16) in those respective spans, so it’s tough to argue that one was more valuable to the team’s performance in that small sample.
Trout played in fewer games, but if you add his extra-base hits, stolen bases and extra bases taken (18), you’ll get 132. Add Cabrera’s extra-base hits, stolen bases and extra bases taken (22) and you get 110. Cabrera’s low stolen base total hurts that number, but it’s still worth pointing out given the gap in games and PAs.
On the basepaths, Trout took an extra base (more than one on a single and more than two on a double) 65-percent of the time, compared to 44-percent for Cabrera. When on base, Trout scored 44-percent of the time, compared to just 28-percent for Cabrera. Part of that is on the men hitting behind them, but their abilities on the bases are also a factor.
If you like WAR — I do to a certain extent — well then Trout is your man. His 10.7 WAR is head and shoulders over the 6.9 mark turned in by Cabrera. That said, that number incudes defense. So, if you isolate offensive WAR, well, Trout still leads 8.6 to 7.4.
Don’t bother with the defense argument. Since we’re comparing an outfielder to a third baseman, I’m not going to focus too much on that. Trout has the clear edge there — no matter how you slice it — but that didn’t factor too much into my take on this situation.
What I wanted to see was history.
One number that jumped out to me was the fact that Trout had 138 runs created (9.4 per game) compared to 139 (8.2 per game) for Cabrera. A player has achieved at least 139 RC in a season 189 times in history. Posting a 138 RC in 139 games or fewer? That’s only been done 20 times in baseball history. The two most recent occurrences (Joe Mauer, 2009; Barry Bonds, 2003) netted MVP awards.
That list includes: Trout (2012), Mauer (2009), Bonds (2003), M. Ramirez (2000), Walker (1999), Thomas (1996), E. Martinez (1996), Thomas (1994), Williams (1957), Williams (1948), DiMaggio (1941), Foxx (1939), DiMaggio (1939), Vaughn (1935), Ruth (1932), Simmons (1931), Simmons (1930), Ruth (1929), Hornsby (1925), Lajoie (1901).
Cabrera has history on his side, too.
In baseball history, there have only been 11 times when a hitter achieved at least .330/.390/.600 with at least 40 homers, 40 doubles, 100 runs, 130 RBI and 200 hits in a single season. If you narrow that to needing at least 44 home runs, here is the list you come up with:
Miguel Cabrera (2012)
Larry Walker (1997)
Lou Gehrig (1934)
Lou Gehrig (1927)
Babe Ruth (1921)
The fact that Trout only played 139 games adds to the historical aspect of his season, though.
In baseball history, there have only been seven instances where a player scored at least 129 runs in 139 games or fewer:
Mike Trout (2012)
Jimmie Foxx (1939)
Joe DiMaggio (1936)
Al Simmons (1930)
Earle Combs (1930)
Rogers Hornsby (1925)
Nap Lajoie (1901)
Of those, only Hornsby, Simmons, Lajoie and Trout had a slash line of at least .325/.390/.560/.960 and at least 180 hits. Trout is the only player of the seven to have more than 27 stolen bases in a single season.
If you search for seasons with at least 40 stolen bases and 129 runs, combined with an OPS+ of at least 170, here is the select group you come up with:
Mike Trout (2012), George Sisler (1920, 1922), Ty Cobb (1911, 1915) and Tris Speaker (1912).
When you take all these things into account, it is hard not to come away thinking Trout was simply the more valuable player throughout his time in the big leagues this season. He didn’t crush as many home runs, or drive in as many runs (can’t fault the guy for hitting leadoff compared to third for Cabrera), but he did more on the diamond that contributed to his team scoring. Isn’t that the bottom line? And Trout did that better than any player in the past seven or eight decades.
We will always have this Triple Crown, this special accomplishment by a special player, but giving Trout the MVP is the right way to go, in my opinion. That does not lessen Cabrera’s feat in any way and, hey, his trophy — an actual crown – is pretty cool. Let Trout have the MVP plaque.
My 2012 season-end award picks
Most Valuable Player: Mike Trout, Angels
Cy Young Award: David Price, Rays
Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, Angels
Manager of the Year: Buck Showaler, Orioles
Most Valuable Player: Buster Posey, Giants
Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Mets
Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Nationals
The theory went something like this: injuries took a toll on Ubaldo’s body in 2011, and 2012 was going to be an up-and-down roller coaster as the pitcher got used to being healthy again, with his velocity returning gradually over the course of the summer. Come 2013, Ubaldo would be more than a year removed from all the stress (mental and physical) of his turbulent 2011 season split between Colorado and Cleveland, with his mechanics smoothed out once again.
Ubaldo would no longer be Big Ugly.
He’d be Big U once again.
We will most likely get a chance to see if this player was on to something with his theory, or whether his prediction was nothing more than false hopes and dreams spewed in the middle of a terrible season. By Wednesday, we will hear — barring an unexpected change in thinking – that Cleveland has exercised Jimenez’s $5.75 million club option for 2013.
The Indians have three club options to sort through: Travis Hafner ($13 million), Roberto Hernandez ($6 million) and Jimenez. Given his history of injury and performance, Hafner is surely going to receive a $2.75 million buyout. Given his legal woes and small sample size from this year, Hernandez is unlikely to be retained at a $6 million salary.
As for Jimenez, expect him to be back in the rotation as things currently stand.
I know, I know. There are plenty of you out there saying Cleveland should dump the Big U — admit the trade was a bust, kick him to the curb and move on already. It’s not that simple, though, folks. If the Tribe declined Ubaldo’s option, he’d earn a $1 million buyout and then be eligible for arbitration.
Sure, the Indians could non-tender Jimenez — making him a free agent — but this is about eliminating risk. If Hernandez is gone (shoot, even if he’s back on a reduced deal and as unpredictable as ever), there is simply too much uncertainty in the rotation.
Justin Masterson is coming off a bad season. Josh Tomlin is out for 2013 due to an injury. Carlos Carrasco is coming back from injury and will surely be on a limited load deep into the summer. Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber showed promise in spurts, but looked overwhelmed and pitched like rookies in other spots. Kevin Slowey’s salary is high enough to make him a non-tender candidate and, even if he were brought back, he’s no sure bet to be a work horse in 2013, either. The free-agent crop? Given the cost of pitching these days, the urgency within Cleveland’s rotation, there’s simply too many holes and not enough dough.
Like it or not, picking up Jimenez’ option is the best option under the circumstances.
OK, you say, but what about declining the option and going to an arbitration hearing? That’s $1 million for the buyout, plus whatever he’d earn through that salary-defining process. Could Cleveland offer less than his 2012 salary ($4.2M)? Only 20-percent less (roughly $3.36M), which would be slightly above his ’12 rate when the buyout is factored in.
There is simply no way Jimenez’s camp would agree to that, though. They’d counter with a salary higher than $5.75 million (the value of his club option), and a panel would then decide between the two salaries (unless the sides reached an agreement before it reached a hearing). Believe it or not, Jimenez’s party would have a case for a larger salary, too.
Consider this, over the course of his career, Jimenez has notched 69 wins, 1,093 IP, 978 strikeouts and a 4.03 ERA in 180 games. If you filter out active players with at least 60 wins, 900 IP, 900 strikeouts, and a 3.75+ ERA over 175+ games, you get a list of comparables that includes:
Erik Bedard, 33: 63 W, 3.85 ERA, 1,077 IP, 1,044 K, 192 G
Chris Capuano, 34: 69 W, 4.28 ERA, 1,162 IP, 969 K, 214 G
Edwin Jackson, 29: 70 W, 4.40 ERA, 1,268.2 IP, 969 K, 234 G
Bruce Chen, 35: 71 W, 4.60 ERA, 1,356.1 IP, 1,022 K, 351 G
Ricky Nolasco, 29: 76 W, 4.49 ERA, 1,113.1 IP, 911 K, 195 G
Joe Blanton, 31: 83 W, 4.37 ERA, 1,434.2 IP, 978 K, 237 G
Wandy Rodriguez, 33: 85 W, 4.03 ERA, 1,381.2 IP, 1,143 K, 240 G
The average 2012 salary for that group is $7.6 million. The average salary of the two 29-year-old pitchers (Jimenez is 28) was $10 million for 2012.
We all know it’s not really fair to look at the career numbers, though. So let’s glance at the last three seasons, when Jimenez went 38-38 with a 4.22 ERA, 537 strikeouts and 586.2 IP over 96 games. Over that span, only one other pitcher hit plateaus of at least 35 wins, 4.00 ERA, 550 IP, 500 K and 80 games.
Ryan Dempster, 35: 37-34, 4.04 ERA, 590.2 IP, 552 K, 96 games.
Dempster is significantly older, but the fact remains that he earned $14 million in 2012 with a similar three-year split as Jimenez. Ubaldo was actually better than Dempster over that span in home runs and hits allowed. And, like Jimenez, Dempster’s three-year split included an off year (10-14 with a 4.80 ERA in 2011).
Once again, however, we all know that it’s not really fair to include Jimenez’s stellar 2010 (19-8, 2.88 ERA) showing given the extent of his struggles in 2011-12. Well, let’s take a look at his past two seasons worth of performances: 19-30, 5.03 ERA, 365 IP, 323 K, 173 BB, 63 G.
There are nine other pitchers who, over the past two years, have had at least 19 wins, 300 IP, 300 K and 50 G with a winning percentage below .500: Trevor Cahill, Ricky Romero, Chris Capuano, Tim Lincecum, Justin Masterson, Wandy Rodriguez, Josh Beckett, Ervin Santana and Anibal Sanchez.
Jimenez’s camp could make quite a salary case based on some of those names, even if you narrow the field a bit more. Of that group, there are four other pitchers with an ERA of 4.00+ over the past two seasons:
Romero, 27: 24-25, 4.19 ERA, 406 IP, 302 K, 185 BB, 64 G
Masterson, 27: 23-25, 4.05 ERA, 422.1 IP, 317 K, 153 BB, 68 G
Capuano, 34: 23-24, 4.12 ERA, 384.1 IP, 330 K, 107 BB, 66 G
Santana, 29: 20-25, 4.16 ERA, 406.2 IP, 311 K, 133 BB, 63 G
The average 2012 salary for those four pitchers was $6.5 million.
All of a sudden, that $5.75 million club option seems reasonable, and absent of the kind of risk found in an arbitration process. Even with Jimenez’s 2012 showing being as abysmal as it was, it makes the most sense to pick up his option for ’13. The only way the Tribe should part ways with Jimenez is if the team knows there are a couple of experienced starters — capable of providing 180-200 innings — who are willing and ready to sign.
The offense improved, and the team even enjoyed a handful of walk-off wins. Lonnie Chisenhall returned nicely from his right forearm injury. Carlos Santana continues his second-half surge. Fans got a closer look at Russ Canzler. All in all, it was a decent month with some positives for the Indians to head into the offseason thinking about.
The damage of the season had already been done, though. September saw Manny Acta dismissed as manager, and now the club is looking for a new voice to lead the way. Sandy Alomar Jr. and Terry Francona are first up in the interview process, and both options would represent a sound option for the team.
I will follow with my yearly honors soon, and a wrap up of some Minor Leagues highlights. You can also expect to see some more in-depth analysis of the season that was, and the needs going forward, in the next few weeks.
For now let’s take a quick glance at the final month of the Indians’ 2012 season:
At home: 6-8
On road: 7-9
Offense (AL rank):
.259 average (4)
.336 on-base (2)
.362 slugging (13)
.698 OPS (10)
19 home runs (13)
44 doubles (10)
124 RBI (10)
132 runs (8)
113 walks (3)
216 strikeouts (11)
23 stolen bases (6)
276 hits (5)
Pitching (AL rank)
4.57 ERA (11)
8 saves (8)
273.2 innings (8)
286 hits allowed (12)
156 runs (10)
139 earned runs (10)
35 home runs (8)
90 walks (6)
203 strikeouts (3)
1.37 WHIP (11)
2.26 K/BB (10)
Player of the Month: C Carlos Santana
Stats: .280/.368/.495/.863, 5 HR, 4 2B, 19 RBI, 20 R, 16 BB, 27 games
2012 winners: DH Travis Hafner (April), 2B Jason Kipnis (May), RF Shin-Soo Choo (June), CF Michael Brantley (July), Carlos Santana (August, September)
Pitcher of the Month: LHP David Huff
Stats: 3-1, 3.38 ERA, 26.2 IP, 19 K, 5 BB, 1.31 WHIP, 6 games, 4 starts
2012 winners: RHP Derek Lowe (April), CL Chris Perez (May), RHP Justin Masterson (June), RHP Zach McAllister (July), RHP Esmil Rogers (August), LHP David Huff (September).
Reliever of the Month: RHP Frank Herrmann
Stats: 1.32 ERA, 13.2 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 0.59 WHIP, 11 games
2012 winners: RHP Vinnie Pestano (April, July), CL Chris Perez (May), RHP Esmil Rogers (June, August), RHP Frank Herrmann (September).
Performance of the Month (hitting): Carlos Santana
Line: 3-for-6, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 runs, 9 TB in 15-4 win over Royals on Sept. 23.
Performance of the Month (pitching): LHP David Huff
Line: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 10 BF in 7-6 win over Twins on Sept. 7.
“I think we have a solid starting staff. We have four guys who are locked in, in my opinion. And then you have three, four or five guys who have been in that fifth starting role and who will fight and be prepared. We’re definitely in a good spot.”
– Justin Masterson, in February
A lot has changed since Masterson made those comments about the Indians’ rotation battle at the onset of Spring Training. There is no denying that Cleveland entered this season with plenty of questions surrounding its starting staff, but the organization — from the front office to the clubhouse — was optimistic and confident about the group at the time.
Much, if not all, of that confidence has since been shaken and shattered.
Where does the Tribe go from here?
The Indians thought they had the makings of a group that could help the ballclub contend this season: a veteran (Derek Lowe) mixed in with a couple of up-and-comers (Masterson and Josh Tomlin), a past star (Ubaldo Jimenez) and a prospect (Jeanmar Gomez). Instead, that group faltered greatly and has been the catalyst behind this collapse.
Every team enters a season with a rotation depth chart that is eight to 10 arms deep. Sure enough, Cleveland has cycles through nine starters this season. Here is that list, and their overall showing out of the rotation, through Tuesday:
Justin Masterson: 11-13, 4.96
Ubaldo Jimenez: 9-16, 5.52
Derek Lowe: 8-10, 5.52
Jeanmar Gomez: 5-7, 5.54
Zach McAllister: 5-7, 4.31
Josh Tomlin: 5-8, 5.72
Corey Kluber: 1-3, 5.26
Roberto Hernandez: 0-3, 7.53
Chris Seddon: 0-1, 5.23
Masterson, Jimenez, Gomez, McAllister and Kluber currently make up the rotation with roughly three weeks to play. Lowe was released. Tomlin is done for the year (and likely all of next season) after Tommy John surgery. Hernandez is sidelined with a right ankle sprain and his status is up in the air. Seddon is in the bullpen, where he is a better fit.
Given Cleveland’s slide in the standings — from first place through 70 games to tied for last in the American League Central — the question is simply: Where do the Indians go from here? After this season’s collapse, it is hard to fathom the club trying to sell 2013 as a season of expected contention. It is more likely a year that will help sort through the building blocks of the future. Again.
The 2013 rotation could include Masterson (arbitration eligible), though Cleveland will probably entertain any trade offers for the sinkerballer this winter. McAllister, Kluber and Gomez are all pre-arb. Don’t forget, pitchers such as Carlos Carrasco (returning from Tommy John) and Kevin Slowey (arb eligible after injury-marred Triple-A season this year) will likely be in the fold next spring. Lefty David Huff is still around, too.
Lowe is in the past. Tomlin is part of the distant (2014) future. Cleveland has club options on Hernandez ($6 million) and Jimenez ($5.75 million). In the Minors, upper-level arms include guys like T.J. McFarland, T.J. House (Double-A), Giovanny Soto (Double-A) and Paolo Espino (Double-A). Austin Adams? He’ll be coming back from shoulder surgery.
The Indians lack upper-level impact arms — the type that would be clearly ready to slide into the 2013 rotation for a chance to see what the Tribe has waiting in the wings. That is why it would not be surprising to see Cleveland float players like Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez in trade talks this winter.
Cleveland had two top-tier pitching prospects poised for the big-league stage, but — thanks to the trade for Jimenez – they are now with the Rockies (Drew Pomeranz and Alex White).
Some free-agent pitching options this offseason include the likes of Kevin Correia, Ryan Dempster, Jeremy Guthrie, Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Jason Marquis, Kevin Millwood and Anibal Sanchez, among others. But, under the circumstanes, I wouldn’t expect the Tribe to be big spenders.
Shocker, you say? Come on. What team should spend big after a 90-plus loss season? The time has come again to shift the focus back to building a better foundation. The current core is not breeding confidence, especially on the mound. There is no quick fix to what has transpired here over the past two months.
It begins and ends on the mound. One or two hitters — not Josh Willingham, not Prince Fielder — could have overcome Cleveland’s rotation woes this year.
On the year, among AL teams, the Indians’ rotation ranks 11th in innings (807.2), 12th in wins (44), 13th in ERA (5.28), hits allowed (903), walks issued (313), strikeouts (546) and average (.283), and last in losses (68), runs allowed (529), earned runs allowed (474), stolen bases allowed (93), stolen base percentage (83%) and WHIP (1.51).
Dating back to July 27, when the Indians were just 3 1/2 games out of first place, the rotation has gone 8-26 (14th in both) in 43 games with a 6.88 ERA (14th) and .305 average against (14th). Over that period, the group has allowed 194 runs (14th), 169 earned runs (14th), 277 hits (12th), 82 walks (10th) in 221 innings (14th).
Dating back to July 27, here is the individual starters’ performances:
Masterson: 4-5, 7.14, 51.2 IP
Jimenez: 1-7, 6.79, 50.1 IP
McAllister: 1-5, 6.08, 40 IP
Kluber: 1-3, 5.26, 39.1 IP
Hernandez: 0-3, 7.53, 14.1 IP
Seddon: 0-1, 5.23, 10.1 IP
Gomez: 1-0, 7.27, 8.2 IP
Tomlin: 0-1, 18.00, 4 IP
Lowe: 0-1, 27.00, 2.1 IP
Masterson and Ubaldo combined have gone 20-29 with a 5.23 ERA and 1.51 WHIP on the season and 5-12 with a 6.97 ERA and 1.60 WHIP dating back to July 27.
The rotation currently has the third-highest single-season ERA in team history, trailing the 1987 (5.37) and 2009 (5.30) clubs. The starting staff is also on pace for 77 losses. In team history, only five rotations (1971, 83; 1928, 81; 1991, 79; 1924, 75; 1987, 75) have lost at least 75 games in a single season.
Something has to give, and soon. But where should the Indians start?
I will never cover a collapse of this kind again. I could spend the next half-century as a scribe chronicling Cleveland baseball — I doubt my wife will let that happen — and history says this will not occur again on my watch.
There are teams that are supposed to be bad. They turn in 90-loss seasons, or maybe even drop 100, and no one really makes much of a fuss, because, hey, what did you expect? But this? This Tribe team was supposed to contend. And they did contend.
On June 23, the Indians were in first place in the American League Central with a 37-32 record. Since then, the Tribe has gone an incredible 18-45 to fall to 17.5 games out of first place and just 1.5 games from being the worst team in the AL. It has been an historic stretch for this team.
The true start of the rapid descent was July 27 — the day after the Tribe defeated Justin Verlander and the Tigers with a dramatic comeback. From there, Cleveland lost 11 in a row, and later went on to have losing streaks of nine and six games. That last skid is active entering tonight’s action.
In August, the rotation disintegrated and the Tribe parted ways with the likes of Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon, Jose Lopez, Jeremy Accardo and Shelley Duncan. Grady Sizemore was declared done for the season, even though he had yet to play a game. Josh Tomlin underwent Tommy John surgery. Travis Hafner was shelved once again.
In all, Cleveland went 5-24 in August for its worst showing in a single calendar month in the club’s 112-year history. The 1914 Cleveland Naps had a 24-loss July nearly a century ago, but they won six and had one tie that month.
The Indians are the second team to have a 24-loss month this season, joining the Astros, who did so in July. It marks the first time since 1982 that two teams had months of 24-plus losses in one season. The Twins (26 in May) and Mets (24 in August) accomplished that dubious feat 31 seasons ago.
In the last 30 seasons, only the 2012 Indians, 2012 Astros and 1999 Cubs turned in a month with at least 24 losses. It has happened 10 times in the past 50 seasons. Dating back to 1921, there have been 46 such occurrences. The record for futility in a single month (since ’21) is 27 losses. Well done, 1939 Phillies and 1940 Athletics (both in September).
It has been ugly, but I still sifted through the wreckage to find some monthly award winners. It was much easier to do for the Minor League affiliates this time around.
With the calendar flipped to September, here is a look back at August…
At home: 4-11
On road: 1-13
Offense (AL rank):
.231 average (12)
.290 on-base (12)
.352 slugging (13)
.643 OPS (12)
24 home runs (12)
39 doubles (12)
94 RBI (12)
96 runs (12)
72 walks (10)
212 strikeouts (8)
23 stolen bases (6)
223 hits (12)
Pitching (AL rank)
5.49 ERA (12)
4 saves (14)
252.1 innings (5)
291 hits allowed (14)
179 runs (14)
154 earned runs (12)
37 home runs (11)
95 walks (13)
206 strikeouts (8)
.288 opp. average (14)
1.53 WHIP (14)
.838 opp. OPS (14)
Player of the Month: C Carlos Santana
Stats: .277/.368/.436/.803, 4 HR, 4 2B, 16 RBI, 12 R, 28 H, 29 games
Previous winners: DH Travis Hafner (April), 2B Jason Kipnis (May), RF Shin-Soo Choo (June), CF Michael Brantley (July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Esmil Rogers
Stats: 2.04 ERA, 17.2 IP, 18 K, 2 BB, 1.25 WHIP, 13 games
Previous winners: RHP Derek Lowe (April), CL Chris Perez (May), RHP Justin Masterson (June), RHP Zach McAllister (July)
Reliever of the Month: RHP Esmil Rogers
Previous winners: RHP Vinnie Pestano (April, July), CL Chris Perez (May), RHP Esmil Rogers (June)
Performance of the Month (hitting): INF Brent Lillibridge
Line: 3-for-4, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 runs in 5-2 win over Red Sox on Aug. 11
Performance of the Month (pitching): RHP Zach McAllister
Line: 8 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K in 5-2 win over Red Sox on Aug. 11
MINOR LEAGUE HONORS
Player of the Month: 2B Cord Phelps
Stats: .310/.395/.504/.900, 5 HR, 7 2B, 17 RBI, 22 R, 35 H, 29 games
Previous winners: 1B Matt LaPorta (April), INF Jason Donald (May), 1B/OF Russ Canzler (June), OF Tim Fedroff (July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Matt Langwell
Stats: 2-0, 1.98 ERA, 13.2 IP, 20 K, 8 BB, 1.39 WHIP, .220 avg, 9 games
Previous winners: RHP Corey Kluber (April, July), LHP David Huff (May), LHP Eric Berger (June)
Player of the Month: OF Thomas Neal
Stats: .319/.426/.451/.876, 3 HR, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 17 R, 29 H, 28 games
Previous winners: INF/OF Jared Goedert (April, May), OF Thomas Neal (June), 1B Adam Abraham (July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Toru Murata
Stats: 1-0, 1.17 ERA, 30.2 IP, 26 K, 4 BB, 0.82 WHIP, .194 avg., 6 starts
Previous winners: LHP T.J. McFarland (April), LHP T.J. House (May), RHP Steven Wright (June), RHP Paolo Espino (July)
Class A (high) Carolina
Player of the Month: 3B Giovanny Urshela
Stats: .336/.345/.586/.931, 6 HR, 9 2B, 12 RBI, 12 R, 39 H, 28 games
Previous winners: DH Jeremie Tice (April), 1B Jesus Aguilar (May), INF Ronny Rodriguez (June), INF Tony Wolters (July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Rob Nixon
Stats: 0.89 ERA, 20.1 IP, 20 K, 4 BB, 0.93 WHIP, .205 avg., 9 games
Previous winners: LHP T.J. House (April), RHP Shawn Armstrong (May), RHP Kyle Blair (June), RHP Danny Salazar (July)
Class A (low) Lake County
Player of the Month: 2B Jose Ramirez
Stats: .392/.436/.525/.961, 2 HR, 6 2B, 15 RBI, 27 R, 47 H, 30 games
Previous winners: OF Luigi Rodriguez (April), 1B Jerrud Sabourin (May), OF Jordan Smith (June, July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Enosil Tejeda
Stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 0.67 WHIP, .163 avg., 11 games
Previous winners: RHP Cody Anderson (April), RHP Joseph Colon (May), RHP Mason Radeke (June), RHP Manuel Carmona (July)
Class A (short-season) Mahoning Valley
Player of the Month: INF Joseph Wendle
Stats: .3336/.362/.445/.808, 2 HR, 4 2B, 17 RBI, 12 R, 37 H, 26 games
Previous winners: C/1B Charlie Valerio (June), INF Joseph Wendle (July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Luis Encarnacion
Stats: 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 20 K, 9 BB, 1.00 WHIP, .081 avg., 8 games
Previous winners: RHP Luis DeJesus (June, July)
Arizona League Indians
Player of the Month: OF Anthony Santander
Stats: .371/.439/.614/.1.053, 2 HR, 9 2B, 10 RBI, 14 R, 26 H, 20 games
Previous winners: 3B Jorge Martinez (June), SS Dorssys Paulino (July)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Felix Sterling
Stats: 3-0, 0.95 ERA, 19 IP, 29 K, 6 BB, 0.95 WHIP, .174 avg., 5 games
Previous winners: RHP Luis Morel (June), RHP Alexis Paredes (July)
Dominican Summer League Indians
Player of the Month: 1B/C Juan De La Cruz
Stats: .317/.416/.413/.828, 4 2B, 1 3B, 13 RBI, 8 R, 20 H, 20 games
Previous winners: 2B Odomar Valdez (June), OF Victor Cabral (July)
Pitcher of the Month: LHP Luis Gomez
Stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 13.1 IP, 12 K, 5 BB, 0.83 WHIP, .130 avg., 3 starts
Previous winners: RHP Juan Nivar (June), LHP Luis Gomez (July)
Indians 3, Yankees 1
FIRST: The Streak II is over.
Justin Masterson turned in a strong performance, Michael Brantley provided some power, and Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez did their thing, helping Cleveland ends its nine-game losing streak. It was a sequel to The Streak: the 11-game slide that began on July 27 and transformed the Tribe from hopeful to hapless.
With 22 losses in 27 games, this is a stretch the players won’t soon forget.
“I’ll never forget about this season for the rest of my career,” Perez said. “For me personally, yeah, this is going to go back into my bank. I’ll be like, ‘I don’t ever want to get there again. How did it get to this? How did it get to 11 in a row? How’d it get to nine in a row?’ Me personally, yeah, it’ll help me out in the future.
“As a team? I don’t know. It’s hard. Because youre in the middle of a streak, it doesn’t mean you come to the park trying to do something different. You try to win every game. We were losing all different ways. Bad starting pitching. Bad hitting. Bad bullpen. Errors. Walks. Everything. Home runs. You name it, and we found a way to lose.
“You can laugh about it, but it [stinks]. If anything, if we come out here and have a good September, we can say, ‘Look, we went through the worst you can go through and we bounced back and we’re professionals.’ At the end of the day, that’s our job.”
SECOND: Masterson paved the way to the win column by giving the Indians 6 2/3 strong innings. The big sinkerballer allowed just one run — in the sixth, after loading the bases with no outs — on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Masterson was the man who ended both streaks.
Indians manager Manny Acta was asked what it is about the pitcher that makes him such an effective stopper, and why he seems to perform better in such situations.
“I wouldn’t say that he’s just better in those situations,” Acta said. “He had a chance to stop it before it got to nine.”
True. Masterson was behing No. 2 and No. 7 in the 11-game slide and he lost No. 5 in the nine-game streak.
“But, he’s our guy,” Acta continued. “He’s our guy, our No. 1 guy coming into the season and he’s got the stuff to do this more times than not. He’s human, but we feel that every five days he can go out and do this.”
THIRD: Brantley gave Masterson all the support he required in the first inning, when the center fielder launched a three-run home run. It’s a good thing he did, too, because Hiroki Kuroda settled in from there and turned in a complete game with no more runs allowed.
“Michael, he stepped up,” Acta said. “That was a huge three-run homer.”
The blast gave Brantley 55 RBIs on the season.
“One more,” Brantley said with a smirk.
As in, one more RBI, and he will tie the career high of his dad, Mickey Brantley, who had 56 RBIs for the Mariners in 1988.
HOME: With two outs and runners on second and third base in the seventh inning, Acta handed the ball to Pestano. The setup man issued a walk to Robinson Cano and then fell behind, 2-0, to slugger Mark Teixeira.
At that point, Acta headed to the mound for a chat.
“I was more trying to settle him down,” Acta explained. “Also, I just told him that if this guy hits his best pitch, I could sleep better tonight. I just felt the at-bat before wth Robinson he was throwing way too many sliders and he was falling behind in the count because of that.
“I went up there and just told him to throw him your best stuff right here. If he hits it, wherever he hits it, we can go to bed and sleep well. I don’t want to see this guy hitting your second pitch.”
Pestano listened and induced an inning-ending flyout from Tex, who walked away impressed.
“Pestano’s got dirty stuff,” Teixeira said. “You don’t want to throw out a Mariano [Rivera] comparison with that cutter. I mean, that’s a really tough cutter. He throws it hard. He throws it from a sidearm angle, which is really tough to see. And his numbers show it. His numbers are really good this year.”
Yankees (73-53) at Indians (55-71)
at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday at Progressive Field
Yankees 3, Indians 1
FIRST: It was cruel of the baseball gods to have CC Sabathia come off the disabled list to face the Indians in the midst of another long losing streak for his former team. It was crueler still that they’d have him flirt with a no-hitter for four innings.
Can you imagine the fan reaction had Sabathia no-hit the Indians — with Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta in the lineup — during a ninth straight loss? I’m not sure I’d want to be writing my game story while angry mobs wielding torches and pitchforks swarmed the stadium.
Alas, CC did not get his no-no.
That came to an end with one out in the fourth, when Asdrubal Cabrera crushed a solo home run to center field. The previous pitch sailed behind Cabrera’s legs, prompting home-plate ump Fieldin Culbreth to issue warnings to both sides.
It was clear retaliation for rookie starter Corey Kluber hitting Derek Jeter in the head with a fastball in the second inning. At least that’s the way the Indians saw it. That said, manager Manny Acta did not take issue with CC’s actions.
“That’s part of the game. Heat of the moment,” Acta said. “I understand Derek or them not being happy with Kluber hitting him on the head. I think everybody pretty much knows that he wasn’t doing that on purpose. But, that’s how the game is played.
“CC deserves credit. At least he didn’t throw at his head. He did what he had to do. It’s part of the game and we’re moving on.”
Sabathia picked up the win after holding the Tribe to one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings, during which he struck out nine and walked one.
SECOND: The Indians dropped 11 in a row earlier this month and are now riding a nine-game losing streak. This is the first time in franchise history that the team has suffered two losing streaks of at least nine games in a single season.
During the 11-game slide, Cleveland’s main issue was its starting rotation, and that remained a problem early on in this current slump. That said, the offense has been mostly to blame for the past handful of defeats.
Over the last five games, the Indians have hit .226 (37-164) with six runs scored, including one each in the past three games. Over that five-game drought, the club has hit just .114 (4-35) with runners in scoring position. On Friday, Cleveland went 0-for-6 with RISP and left the bases loaded twice.
THIRD: Rookie Corey Kluber gave the Indians a decent outing, but had to leave after five frames after a 30-pitch first inning drove his pitch count up. The righty allowed one run on six hits, striking out six with two walks and the hit-by-pitch to Jeter. Giving up only one run was impressive in the sense that Kluber escaped a pair of bases-loaded jams.
That lone run came in the first inning, which has been a trend for the young starter. He now sports a 19.80 ERA (11 ER/5 IP) in the first this season, compared to a 1.45 ERA (3 ER/18.2 IP) in all other frames combined.
HOME: I write this off-day feature on rookie Cody Allen and, naturally, he allows the first runs of his career in his next appearance. Acta is trying to work Allen into more high-leverage situations down the stretch and he gave the rook the seventh inning of a 1-1 ballgame on Friday, with the top of New York’s order due up.
Two batters in, Nick Swisher launched a two-run homer.
Not only were the two runs the first runs allowed in Allen’s career (he had turned in 13.2 scoreless innings across his first 12 appearances, but Swisher’s hit was the first by a lefty hitter vs. the pitcher this year. Allen had held lefties to an 0-for-21 showing before the blast.
“It was going to happen,” Allen said of having his scoreless streak end. “I hate that it happened in a situation like that. I’d rather give up a run in my first outing when we’re down 7-1. In a 1-1 ballgame like that, during an eight-game losing streak going in, we need a ‘W.’”
Yankees (73-52) at Indians (54-71)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Saturday at Progressive Field
Indians 5, Red Sox 2
FIRST: Every time you see Zach McAllister warming up to pitch at Progressive Field, you can expect to hear ”Return of the Mack” pumping through the stadium speakers. Every time he pitches, it seems like you can expect him to pitch into the sixth inning.
“He’s been as consistent as anybody here,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “It means a lot. You know that you’re going to get at least six innings depending on his pitch count. He doesn’t walk a lot of guys. He gets himself in position to pitch a good game by attacking the zone with a good fastball and mixing his pitches.
“It’s nice to see that. It’s great that it’s one of those young up-and-coming guys for us.”
E-Z Mac was at it again on Saturday night, turning in a gem against the Red Sox. the 6-foot-6, 240-pound righty went eight strong, holding Boston to two runs on three hits. He struck out four and walked none. McAllister said he could’ve pitched the ninth if Acta had asked him as much.
Consider this, even including his rough outing last time out (1.2 IP, 9 R, 2 ER), McAllister is on a short list for consistency among American League starters this season. McAllister currently has 13 straight starts with four earned runs or fewer allowed. Entering Saturday, only CJ Wilson (19), CC Sabathia (16), Matt Harrison (14) and Jason Hammel (14) had longer streaks among AL starters this year.
One flaw in McAllister’s season has been his performance after miscues in the field. He leads the American League in unearned runs, despite having just 78 innings under his belt this season. A good development on Saturday was seeing McAllister settle in and limit the damage when things went sour in the field in the fourth.
After Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, Carl Crawford reached on a botched bunt play. McAllister gloved the ball, and heard catcher Lou Marson calling for the pitcher to throw to third. The only problem was third baseman Brent Lillibridge was charging in on the play, so no one was covering.
On the next play, Dustin Pedroia reached with a chopper to Lillibridge, who looked Ellsbury back to third, loading the bases while stopping a run from scoring. With the bags full, McAllister yielded a two-run double to Alex Gonzalez. Ater that? He retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced.
That’s damage control.
“He was dominant the whole night,” Acta said. “He ran into a little bit of trouble in that inning where we gave him two extra outs, and he didn’t even get rattled.”
SECOND: Indians manager Manny Acta is 6-for-7 on squeeze plays in his career at the helm in Cleveland, and his latest successful call came in the seventh inning on Saturday.
Lillibridge led off with a double and then advanced to third on a groundout from Casey Kotchman. Marson then dropped a 1-0 pitch down for a squeeze bunt with Lillibridge sprinting home from third. Lillibridge was safe, giving the Tribe a critical insurance run.
“That’s something that, as soon as the guy gets to second base, you’re thinking of,” Acta explained. “If we would’ve been in the middle of the order, I wouldn’t even be planning on it. But you had the bottom of the order. Kotchman, I was going to give him an opportunity to move the guy over by swinging the bat.
“And, if he got to third, I knew that at some point, if the count worked for me, or if I had a good gut feeling, I was going to call it with Lou. He’s a good bunter. It worked out good, because Lillibridge is a very good baserunner. [Boston reliever Mark] Melancon made a good play, getting to the ball, but because Lillibridge is so fast, he didn’t have a play at the plate.
“It’s something that you start planning way before it happens, depending on who’s on deck and so forth.”
THIRD: In the sixth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo teamed for a double steal with one out and Carlos Santana at the plate. The Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Santana to load the bases for Michael Brantley. Acta had no qualms with the runners pulling it off, even though it opened first base and set up a potential double play.
“Any time you can get guys to second and third in that type of situation,” Acta said, “you’ve got to go for it. And right now, the way Michael is going and swinging the bat, Michael is the guy we want to see up there in any type of situation. Today was another example of how huge he’s been for us in the middle of the order.”
Brantley came through with a sacrifice fly that gave the Tribe a 3-2 lead.
HOME: Saturday’s offensive output was all about the Lillibridge Over Troubled Waters. The light-hitting Lilly went 3-for-4, falling a triple short of a cycle. He homered in the third, knocked in a run with a single in the fifth and doubled and scored in the seventh. It ws Lillibridge’s first homer and two-RBI game since Aug. 31 last year. It was his first three-hit showing since Aug. 21 last season.
Red Sox (56-59) at Indians (53-61)
at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday at Progressive Field
Indians 5, Red Sox 3
FIRST: You’d be hard-pressed to find a pitcher inside the Indians’ clubhouse who was happy to see pitching coach Scott Radinsky fired on Thursday. Radinsky was well-liked, despite the on-field results turned in this season by the Tribe.
Ubaldo Jimenez was among those surprised to learn that “Rad” had been let go.
Say what you want about Jimenez’s performance this year, but he teamed with Radinsky for countless sessions to try to correct the pitcher’s mechanical issues this season. The results have been erratic, but the Indians new their undertaking would include incosistency until Jimenez gained a feel for the changes.
“We spent a lot of hours, a lot of days, working every day,” Jimenez said. “I am always going to be grateful for what he did for me. He was there for me every day. He came to the stadium always positive. He was never negative and he was never disappointed. He was always trying to get you up and make you better.”
Jimenez was upset to hear of Radinsky’s firing.
“I think the clubhouse is really sad,” Jimenez said. “He did everything possible. It’s my fault. It’s all the starting pitchers’ fault. We haven’t been consistent. But, that’s baseball, man.”
Against Boston, Jimenez looked like the pitcher Radinsky has been trying to help him become for the Indians. The right-hander lasted into the seventh inning, holding the Red Sox to three runs on eight hits. Along the way, he racked up a season-high 10 strikeouts and only issued one walk.
“That’s the most aggressive I’ve seen him here with his fastball,” Indians manager Manny Acta said, “and probably the best command of his fastball that he has shown so far. He was just dotting it to both sides of the plate.”
SECOND: Less than two hours from game time, Jason Donald learned that — fresh up from Triple-A Columbus — he was being thrown into the starting lineup. He’d be playing second base and leading off. That last part came as a surprise.
“I felt ready to go. I felt prepared,” Donald said. “Mayeb if it was my first time here, there might be a little more anxiety or stress associated with it, but I’ve been here before. I’ve ben in this situation before. I really just tried to roll with it.
“I didn’t think I’d be hitting leadoff. When they told me I was hitting leadoff, I was like, ‘No better way to get back in it.’ Thrown right back into the fire.”
Donald ignited Cleveland’s offense.
Felix Doubront’s third pitch rocketed off Donald’s bat and sliced down the right-field line, where it carried over the wall for a leadoff home run in the first inning. The Indians were on the board and on their way to the win.
As for second baseman Jason Kipnis, he was scratched due to stiffness in his neck. Acta said Kipnis slept funny on Wednesday and was still sore on Thursday. He’ll be re-evaluated prior to Friday’s game.
THIRD: A key turn for the Indians came in the seventh inning, when Jimenez allowed a leadoff double to Pedro Ciriaco and was pulled in favor of lefty Tony Sipp. The southpaw struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and then induced a chopper to the left side from Carl Crawford.
With the Indians clinging to a 4-3 lead, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera gloved the grounder in the hole and caught Ciriaco running too far from second base. Stuck in a rundown, Cabrera and third baseman Brent Lillibridge teamed up to chase Ciriaco down.
On the play, Crawford tried to take advantage by sprinting toward second base. After applying the tag on Ciriaco, though, Cabrera quickly turned and fired to second, where Crawford was tagged out to bring an emphatic end to the inning. Donald gave a big pump of his fist after making the last out.
Nothing like the ol’ routine 6-5-6-4 double play.
HOME: After giving up eight runs (six earned) combined in his last two outings — a pair of gut-wrenching blown saves — closer Chris Perez searched through the video footage to find something, anything, that he could change.
Well, the formerly-bearded Perez is now completely cleanshaven.
“After I went back and looked at video and realized it wasn’t mechanical,” Perez said, “I was like, ‘All right, something else has got to change.’ So I took away the beard.”
And, guess what?
“We’re 2-0 since I shaved,” Perez said with a laugh. “Baseball is a game of adjustments. Sometimes you have to make some off the field.”
Perez got back to his usual ways on Thursday with a clean ninth, picking up his 30th save of the season. He became just the fourth pitcher in Indians’ history to record back-to-back 30-save seasons, joining Doug Jones, Jose Mesa and Mike Jackson.
Acta was asked how Perez looked out on the mound.
“Chris? He looked very white,” Acta said with a smile. “Very white without that beard. He needs some sun tan.”
Red Sox (55-58) at Indians (52-60)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Friday at Progressive Field
Indians 6, Twins 2
WARMUP: Well, they did it. The Indians won another ballgame. As promised, with the win, Covering the Bases has made its triumphant return to this space.
Following today’s victory — the first in 12 games for the Tribe — one scribe asked Shelley Duncan if the team thought it’d ever win another game. Duncan cracked a smile and laughed at the poorly-phrased question.
“Of course,” Duncan replied. “We weren’t going to lose 70 in a row.”
No, it only felt that way.
FIRST: Much has been made of late of Manny Acta’s style of managing the Indians. After the 0-9 road trip, there were talking heads calling for his head on a platter. Well, that’s a bit much. They were calling for him to be fired.
General manager Chris Antonetti made it clear a few times that Acta’s standing with the club is safe, at least as things stand right now, and the plan is to have him back in 2013. Antonetti said Acta is part of the solution, not the issues.
After today’s win, Acta showed that he has a good handle on how he is portrayed.
“I know my story,” Acta said. “I know how things go with me. When things are going well, I’m being labeled as cool, calm and collected. And when my team starts to lose it’s, ‘He doesn’t argue enough. He doesn’t show enough fire, passion.’ Passion doesn’t mean throwing stuff and yelling profanities and disrespecting people. That’s what people are a little confused about.
“But, I understand that and I live with it. This is what I want to do and that’s the way I want to do it. That’s the way I’ve been successful doing it. That’s what got me up here. I’m not going to change. It has worked out for me so far.”
Acta said he does show that “passion” that people have been calling for over the past two weeks, but he just doesn’t do it in public.
“That’s how I lead. I stay true to myself,” Acta said. “ I’m not a chameleon. I’m not going to change because a few people think that screaming and yelling and turning tables in front of cameras is the way to go. I reflect calmness tomy players. I reflect that everything is under control.
“When I have to yell and scream, which I can do in two languages, I’ll do it behind closed doors. That’s the way I lead and I’m not going to change.”
Acta noted that the team did have a “screaming and yelling” session during a recent team meeting.
“You know what happened after that?” Acta said. “We dropped five more in a row.”
Acta reminded that dealing with big leaguers is different than dealing with players at other levels.
“In this game, at this level, you don’t get the best out of guys yelling,” Acta said. “This is not college. This is not the Minor Leagues. This is dealing with elite athletes that are making a lot more money than their boss. It takes a little bit more than yelling. I can get these guys to do stuff for me without yelling at them. That’s the main thing.
“If you can get them to do what you want them to do, you won the battle. The majority of our kids know what the drill is here. If you really need to be yelled at and screamed at, I’ve got the wrong guys and you’re at the wrong place. You’re only going to be yelled at and screamed at behind closed doors in my office because of lack of effort or something that deserves it.”
SECOND: Acta summed The Streak and today’s win up perfectly during postgame.
“Pitching sets the tone,” Acta said. “Pitching got us into this mess and pitching got us out of it, too.”
The starting rotation was abysmal throughout the 11-game skid, going 0-8 with a 10.44 ERA for the Indians. Last time I checked, the Indians weren’t averaging 11 runs of offense per game, so that showing by the starters did a number on the club’s chances night in and night out.
On Wednesday, though, Justin Masterson said he became “a hair selfish” and wanted to take it to the Twins regardless of the score. He gave Cleveland seven innings and held Minnesota (a team that torched him for 10 runs two outings ago) to two runs on three hits, ending with seven strikeouts and four walks.
Alexi Casilla launched a two-run homer off Masterson in the fifth inning, but that proved only to be a slight setback. Big Masty set down the final nine hitters he faced in order: six on grounders and three on punchouts.
“Masterson did a tremendous job,” Acta said. “He just stepped it up a notch a little bit after that two-run homer and really went after it those last two innings. He gave us an opportunity to stay on top the whole time and went as deep as he could.”
THIRD: The combination of poor starting pitching and woes on offense had the Indians playing “catch-up baseball” (as Acta likes to call it) throughout the past 11 games. On Wednesday, it was Cleveland that went on the offense.
The Indians ran to a 4-0 lead through two innings, marking the team’s fastest sprint to a four-run lead since July 8. Yes, a month ago. Shin-Soo Choo set the tone with a 4-for-4 performance that includes a double and a pair of RBIs.
“[Duensing] left a couple pitches out over the plate early in the game,” Acta said, “and we didn’t miss them. The key was Choo. Duensing usually pitches good against him and he has been struggling against left-handers. But [Choo] stayed in there pretty good and hit the ball up the middle and the other way.”
The Indians went 4-for-11 with RISP.
HOME: With the losing streak now officially in the rear-view mirror (see the previous blog post for all the gory details), the Indians get stop worrying about finally finding the win column, and focus on getting back to basics. Acta said such a long skid can be harder for a young roster like Cleveland’s.
“You feel good, because you don’t want that in the kids’ heads every day,” Acta said. “The hardest part of it is, when you’re young, it’s tough to put one, two, three, four, five, 11, as many as you lost, behind you. Guys just keep thinking about that.
“Now, all the weight is off everybody’s shoulders. They can concentrate on playing to win and not on playing not to lose.”
Red Sox (55-56) at Indians (51-60)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Thursday at Progressive Field