There is so much more to being an ace of a pitching staff than performance. The job comes with a certain accountability that goes beyond what you do on the mound.
The day CC Sabathia was traded to the Brewers was the day Cliff Lee became the ace of the Indians’ staff, and last night he proved — to me, anyway — that he takes that responsibility seriously. Last night’s/this morning’s game ended at 12:41 a.m. ET, five hours and 33 minutes after Lee threw the first pitch. And Lee was out of the game after just five innings.
Yet when reporters walked into the clubhouse somewhere near 1 a.m., there was Lee, sitting at his locker, waiting for the questions about a rare rough performance. In fact, we didn’t even see him for several minutes, because Lee’s locker is hidden behind a pillar. He waited patiently and answered every question thoroughly.
Say what you will about Lee’s outing, but that was true class on his part.
Speaking of class, yesterday I neglected to mention the ad Sabathia placed in The Plain Dealer sports section. It was a (near) full-page ad from Sabathia and his family, thanking the Cleveland community for 10 great years. According to the PD, Sabathia paid $12,870 for the ad.
“It was worth it,” Sabathia said. “I had been there 10 years, and I felt like I should say thanks to some people.”
Nothing but respect for Lee and Sabathia from this corner.
Switching gears, we turn to today’s red-eye nooner between the Indians and Tigers, all while the madness of the 4 p.m. ET trading deadline is taking place around baseball. It looks like Junior’s going to the White Sox, and Manny might be going to the Marlins. Paul Byrd, as far as I can tell, is staying put for the day, but that could change at any moment… and there’s always August, as well.
Here are today’s lineups…
INDIANS (46-60): DH Grady Sizemore, CF Franklin Gutierrez, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Andy Marte, 1B Ryan Garko, C Sal Fasano, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Fausto Carmona (4-3, 4.33).
TIGERS (55-52): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Ramon Santiago, 3B Carlos Guillen, 1B Miguel Cabrera, RF Matt Joyce, DH Marcus Thames, SS Edgar Renteria, LF Ryan Raburn, C Dane Sardinha. RHP Justin Verlander (8-10, 4.29).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- When today’s game starts, 11 hours, 24 minutes will have elapsed between last night’s last pitch and today’s first pitch.
- Lots of abnormal numbers from last night’s game. In 13 innings, 526 pitches were thrown. And according to Jack Efta, who oversees the umpire’s room, 16 dozen balls were used. In the average game, four dozen are used. In all, 131 batters came to the plate.
- You already know Kelly Shoppach became the sixth player in the modern era to notch five extra-base hits in a game. But Shoppach was the first catcher to achieve the feat.
- According to Elias, Shoppach had as many extra-base hits last night as Victor Martinez had in his last 31 games before landing on the disabled list.
- Also according to Elias, the Indians and Tigers have now gone to extra innings with each other 198 times. But last night was the first time the two clubs each had 12 runs after nine innings. The previous high was on Sept. 7, 1950, in Detroit, when it was 11-11 after nine. That game ended in a 13-13 tie.
- Down on the farm, right-hander Rob Bryson, acquired in the Sabathia deal, has been placed on the DL at Class A Lake County with a right shoulder strain. Bryson has a partially torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff. He is expected to miss the next several weeks, so his season could potentially be over. Bryson worked 11 1/3 innings with the Captains, allowing three runs on six hits with six walks and nine strikeouts.
If you’re watching tonight’s game and you’re tracking this blog on your RSS feed (still don’t really know or understand what that is) or your Blackberry or your PDA or you PDQ or whatever, here’s an interesting nugget for you…
Kelly Shoppach’s five extra-base hits tonight tie a single-game Major League record. The last AL player to reach that mark was, intriguingly enough, Indians legend Lou Boudreau, who had four doubles and a homer on July 14, 1946 (in an 11-10 loss at Boston). The last NL player to do it was Shawn Green of the Dodgers on May 23, 2002.
Overall, Shoppach is the sixth Major Leaguer to have five extra-base hits in a ballgame since 1900.
Oh, but as I write this, we’re entering the 10th inning, so Shoppach has time to add on. Stay tuned…
An airplane towing a giant Geico flag is hovering over the ballpark as I type this.
That’s a dangerous move for Geico. Don’t they know this is Progressive territory? Perhaps this is the sign of an impending war involving car insurance companies. If that’s the case, then you’d have to imagine The General is best-equipped for battle, no?
(Side note: If you think that insurance joke was a letdown, imagine how bad you’d feel if you had made the effort to bookmark this blog on your Blackberry. It’s come to my attention that there are people out there who would do such a thing. … Well, just one person, and I’ll protect that person’s identity here, because, really, if you’re the type of person who would bookmark a site like this, you need all the anonymity you can get in life.)
Where was I? Ah, yes, the Geico flag. It’s about the only thing worth watching at Progressive Field at the moment, because the suddenly Pudge-less Tigers, for the second straight day, are blowing off batting practice. That certainly worked for Leyland and company last night, and we’ll see if it works again off Cliff Lee.
INDIANS (46-59): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, DH Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 1B Ryan Garko, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Lee (14-2, 2.29).
TIGERS (54-52): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, LF Marcus Thames, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Gary Sheffield, SS Edgar Renteria, C Brandon Inge, 3B Ryan Raburn. LHP Nate Robertson (6-8, 5.63).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- The new issue of Game Face Magazine online is up and running. Check it out here.
- Cleveland’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Jr. Division Boys (ages 13-15) team is in the house tonight. The team is headed to Compton, Calif., Aug. 6-11 to take part in the RBI World Series and will be honored before tonight’s game. The team will meet mayor Frank Jackson and Sizemore, then watch the game in a suite. Not a bad night, all the way around.
- The Tigers are batting .307 with 109 runs scored in their last 19 games at Progressive nee Jacobs (and never Geico) Field, dating back to July 24, 2006. The Tigers have collected 10 or more hits in 14 of those 19 games. No wonder they don’t bother to take BP here.
- Francisco is in an 0-for-18 funk. Wedge admitted it’s “not fair” to Francisco that the rookie has been thrust into the three-hole because of injuries this season. But the Indians think this will be a good experience for him.
- Marte is 0-for-11 and is batting .224 over his last 13 games.
- Garko is batting .297 with two homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games.
- The Indians are 15-27 against the AL Central this season, exceeding last year’s loss total against the Central (48-24 in ’07).
- Anthony Reyes made his debut in the Tribe organization for Triple-A Buffalo last night, going five innings and giving up three runs on five hits, including two homers, in an 8-7 win over Durham.
- Reyes was helped by a big night from the recently promoted Trevor Crowe, who went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, a triple, a homer and a stolen base.
- Down at Class A Kinston, Beau Mills went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs in a 7-2 win over Myrtle Beach. Mills leads the Carolina League with 73 RBIs.
- But Mills has some company in the RBI department, now that C Carlos Santana (acquired in the Casey Blake trade, for those with bad memories) is on hand. Santana drove in his 97th run of the season last night. His total ranks second in all the Minor Leagues.
When I was in Los Angeles last week, I caught up with my buddy Brian, who is a displaced Clevelander living in Southern California and awaiting inevitable natural disaster. He told me there is a 95 percent chance that LA will have a major earthquake sometime in the next 20 years, and he’s hopeful that said quake will at least lower property values, so that he can get a good deal on a house.
Well, here we are a week later, and, sure enough, LA just had an earthquake this afternoon. I immediately called Brian, and he was a tad disappointed to inform me that this one only registered as a 5.6 on the Richter scale — strong enough to provide 10 seconds of shakiness but not strong enough to cause major damage and drive down the housing prices.
My condolences go out to all those on the Left Coast who were hoping to score big in the real estate market as a result of today’s quake. If it’s any consolation whatsoever, you survived. So you’ve got that going for you, which is nice.
All joking aside, actual condolences go out to Travis Hafner and his family. Hafner’s father, Terry, passed away over the weekend after a battle with cancer. The funeral will take place Wednesday in North Dakota. Hafner left the Indians on Friday to be with his dad and will return to Cleveland later this week.
On the opposide side of the spectrum, congrats go out to trainer Lonnie Soloff, whose wife, Alyssa, gave birth to the couple’s second son, Alexander Michael, on Tuesday
Here are tonight’s lineups…
INDIANS (46-58): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 1B Ryan Garko, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Matt Ginter (1-1, 2.45).
TIGERS (53-52): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, 3B Carlos Guillen, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, LF Matt Joyce, DH Gary Sheffield, SS Edgar Renteria, C Brandon Inge. RHP Armando Galarraga (8-4, 3.27).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY….
- IF Jamey Carroll (left hamstring strain) did some more agility drills today and said he felt better than yesterday. He was able to field grounders and take batting practice, but he still remains out of the lineup and is day to day with the injury he suffered Friday night.
- The Indians’ 11 shutouts this season tie the Red Sox for the most in the Majors.
- Ed Mujica has not allowed a run in his last 10 appearances — a span of 12 innings.
- Kelly Shoppach has hit safely in six straight games, batting .381 (8-for-21) with two homers and eight RBIs.
- Paul Byrd is now 10-2 in his career against the Tigers. According to Elias, only one other active pitcher has a better career wining percentage against Detroit, and that’s Roy Halladay, who is 11-2 in his career against the Tigers.
- 3B Wes Hodges had a big night for Double-A Akron on Monday, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs in an 8-7 win over Erie. For the season, Hodges is batting .301 with 12 homers and 79 RBIs in 103 ames. He leads the organization’s hitters in RBIs.
- First-round pick Lonnie Chisenhall is batting .260 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers and 19 RBIs in 35 games at Mahoning Valley. He hit his second homer last night.
- Anthony Reyes makes his debut at Triple-A Buffalo tonight, getting the start at Durham.
- Casey Blake, 4-for-10 since Saturday’s trade, got tossed from the Dodgers’ game against the Giants last night after arguing about a checked swing that was called a strike. “He’s making a strong impression,” Eric Wedge joked. “Good for him.”
Paul Byrd might be pitching himself off the Indians.
The Indians, who have already dealt staff ace CC Sabathia and infielder Casey Blake, have long been willing to listen to offers for the 37-year-old Byrd, but finding a taker hasn’t been easy. Byrd, who is in the final year of a three-year contract with the Tribe, has struggled mightily this season, serving up an AL-leading 23 home runs.
Byrd, though, put up his third straight quality start Monday night in an outstanding outing against the Tigers, who managed just four hits and three walks off him in 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Contending teams in need of a back-end starter for the stretch run might find value in Byrd, who is a tremendous asset to the clubhouse and a proven playoff performer.
Byrd improved to 5-10 with a 4.93 ERA on Monday. The surging Rockies are one team believed to have some interest in him.
Even if Byrd isn’t dealt before Thursday’s non-waiver deadline, he could be a candidate to be traded in August.
Lots of feedback coming from Saturday’s Casey Blake trade — in my e-mail and mailbag inboxes and in the comment section below. It’s possible I’ve received as many angry e-mails over this trade as I did about the Sabathia trade, which is surprising.
Here’s my feedback, for what it’s worth. I am a bit surprised at the return the Indians got for Blake — a soon-to-be 35-year-old infielder in the last two months of his contract. All I know about Jon Meloan and Carlos Santana is what I’ve read and heard about them the last few days. Meloan obviously didn’t take too well to starting work, but he has the potential to help out in the bullpen, and Santana appears to be a good pick-up, given the dearth of catching talent in professional baseball right now.
That being said, my one concern about this trade is the effect it could have on this clubhouse, where Blake, simply put, was a glue. Several players have hinted this season that the loss of Trot Nixon’s leadership was an underrated factor in the team’s early troubles and losing guys like CC and Blake adds to that.
Of course, the Indians still could — and possibly should, given their shaky corner infield and outfield situation — make an effort to re-sign Blake on a short-term deal this winter. That might prove more difficult than you think, because I wouldn’t be surprised if Blake gets a multiyear offer and I would be surprised if the Indians were willing to go that route.
Anyway, those are my quick thoughts on a deal that officially ushered the Dog Days into Progressive Field. Tonight, the Dog Days continue with the Tigers in town and Andy Gonzalez serving as the DH.
INDIANS (45-58): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 1B Ryan Garko, DH Andy Gonzalez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Paul Byrd (4-10, 5.28).
TIGERS (53-51): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, 3B Carlos Guillen, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, LF Matt Joyce, DH Marcus Thames, C Ivan Rodriguez, SS Edgar Renteria. LHP Kenny Rogers (8-6, 4.48).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Nine members of the Opening Day roster are either on the DL or playing elsewhere. The Opening Day lineup read as follows: CF Grady Sizemore, LF Jason Michaels, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Casey Blake. LHP C.C. Sabathia. Not only are nine guys gone, but so are the periods in CC’s first name.
- Speaking of the DL, Martinez did his first baseball activities today — playing catch and taking dry swings. He tolerated it well and is currently on track to return to game action in the middle of August.
- As for Travis Hafner, the strength test he was supposed to have performed on his right shoulder today was a no-go, as Pronk had to fly home to North Dakota this weekend because of a family emergency. Best wishes go out to Hafner and his family.
- Jamey Carroll, bothered by that left hamstring strain, did some agility drills before batting practice but as still unavailable to start tonight. Wedge wasn’t sure if he’d be able to use Carroll late in tonight’s game, which is part of the reason he DH’d Gonzalez. He figured if a late substitution needed to be made, Gonzalez could play just about anywhere in the field.
- LHP Zach Jackson, considered a throw-in in the Sabathia deal, is pitching quite well for Triple-A Buffalo, hwere he is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in six games, including two starts. Opponents are batting just .155 off him.
- Buffalo RHP Jeff Stevens, Akron 1B/OF Matt LaPorta and RHP T.J. Burton and Kinston OF Nick Weglarz have all left their respective clubs and are headed to Beijing for the Olympic Games. Stevens and LaPorta will play for the U.S., while Burton and Weglarz are representing Canada. The baseball schedule runs from Aug. 13-23.
- Here’s a leftover note on Cliff Lee from the other night: He is just the fourth Indians pitcher to begin a season 14-2 or better, joining Jim Bagby (14-2 in 1920), Johnny Allen (15-1 in 1937) and Gaylord Perry (15-1 in 1974).
- Kinston’s Beau Mills hit his 16th homer at Wilmington yesterday. He is now hitting .282 with 27 doubles, 16 homers and 69 RBIs in 100 games. He leads the Carolina League in RBIs, is tied for fourth in doubles, is tied for second in homers, is fifth in hits and tied for second with 45 extra-base hits in this, his first full professional season. He’s hit safely in 18 of 19 games.
- The Tigers come into this series with a 6 1/2-game deficit in the standings of an AL Central Division everybody and their mother (except me and my mother and maybe you and your mother) predicted they would easily win. But the Tigers are 29-15 since June 7 — the most wins in the Majors during that stretch.
Lastly, I send a nod and a note of enormous jealousy out to Paul Bodi, MLB.com’s East Region Executive Editor, who was in attendance for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s homecoming at Giants Stadium last night. The Boss played 30 songs in a show that lasted over three hours and included “Summertime Blues,” “Growin’ Up,” and “Jungleland.” Oh, and did I mention it opened with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and closed with “Rosalita”?
Well, at least I got to hear that Jimmy Buffet cover band playing outside Progressive on Friday night. So there’s that…
The Indians and Dodgers are believed to be working out a trade involving Casey Blake, MLB.com has learned.
Blake is expected to go to Los Angeles in exchange for Triple-A right-hander Jon Meloan and Class A catcher Carlos Santana (no, not the guitar player). This deal is not yet official but could be in a matter of hours.
Meloan is 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA in 21 games, including 20 starts, at Las Vegas this season. He was converted to starting work this year. Last year, at Double-A Jacksonville and Las Vegas, he was a combined 7-2, 2.03 ERA and 20 saves in 49 relief appearances.
Santana is a switch-hitting catcher batting .323 with 34 doubles, 14 homers, 96 RBIs, 69 walks and 59 strikeouts at Inland Empire.
More info will be posted on the site soon.
Eric Wedge said the Indians will discuss their impending roster move tonight and announce it Saturday, when Fausto Carmona must be added to the active roster and somebody — presumably Matt Ginter or Aaron Laffey — must go.
Though I’m sure it’s already been discussed and decided on by this point, it was difficult to discern what the move was postgame. Ginter was seen coming from the manager’s office, but they’d probably have to have a conversation with him, either way, so that tells us nothing. Both Ginter and Laffey dressed and left with their lockers fully stocked, so no clues there.
My gut tells me Ginter stays. The Indians are really thin in starting pitching right now, and Laffey has obviously struggled of late. Jeremy Sowers has also put up numbers worthy of a demotion, but sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw (or, in this case, the schedule). The only other possibility is that someone in the bullpen (perhaps Tom Mastny) goes and Ginter stays on in relief, but that doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense.
Anyway, that last paragraph is merely my own speculation. We’ll know the official roster move before Saturday’s game. Look for it on the site.
Pretty clear where the Indians are on the Cleveland sports totem pole right about now. With Browns training camp underway, the media “horde” in attendance for Eric Wedge’s pregame talk included about five print reporters and a couple of crickets. Not one cameraman. Not one radio guy.
But as dead as things might be at Progressive Field, apparently people are still reading this site. Did you know that last week, the CastroTurf blog ranked seventh in page views among MLBlogs? (Alyssa Milano’s blog ranked 10th… I’m just saying.) This is one of my prouder moments. Kind of like the time I finished third in my age group at a YMCA 5k. Of course, there were only about four of us running in my age group, and one guy had to stop to tie his shoe, so that result is a little skewed.
Anyway, to liven things up around here, the Indians have a beach party going on over at the Gateway Plaza. There’s a mound of sand and a band playing. I can hear the band from the press box, and the Jimmy Buffet covers are plentiful, which is unfortunate but expected.
What’s that? The game? Ah, yes, the game. Here are tonight’s lineups…
INDIANS (44-56): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Franklin Gutierrez. LHP Cliff Lee (13-2, 2.29).
TWINS (55-46): RF Denard Span, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, LF Delmon Young, DH Craig Monroe, 3B Brendan Harris, SS Nick Punto, CF Carlos Gomez. RHP Livan Hernandez (10-6, 5.29).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Victor Martinez, recovering from elbow surgery and a strained hamstring, will begin baseball-related rehab activities on Monday. That includes playing catch and swinging a bat. The Indians are still targeting a mid-August return for Vic.
- Travis Hafner will have his next strength test Monday. The Indians will determine if he’s ready to pick up a bat again. No clue when Pronk will be back.
- OF Trevor Crowe has been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo for the first time. Crowe was batting .323 with 16 doubles, four triples, four homers and 28 RBIs in 49 games at Double-A Akron. He was batting .393 with 26 RBIs in 34 gmaes since June 1. Suffice to say he was ready to move up, but he had to stay healthy first. Crowe had a lower back problem in April and a strained pectoral earlier this month.
- Pull out your scorebooks (or just adjust your memories), because we’ve got a scoring change from the June 30 game at Chicago. A third-inning hit by Jermaine Dye has now been ruled an error on Casey Blake by the MLB scoring committee. This lowers Jeremy Sowers’ ERA from 7.33 to 6.44. But the 9-7 Tribe loss still stands for all of eternity.
- Members of the Indians clubhouse, training and medical staff went to Goodyear, Ariz., earlier this week to check out the new facility. A video of the tour was being played in the clubhouse before tonight’s game, and the complex — particularly the massive training and weight rooms — looks impressive. What’s not so impressive is clubhouse manager Tony Amato’s office, which, in addition to being tiny, is also shaped like a pie. Should be an interesting setup for Mr. Amato.
- While watching the video, Cliff Lee was informed that the Major League and Minor League players will share a pool/hot tub room. “They’re going to contaminate our water!” Lee joked of the Minor Leaguers. Well, he was most likely joking.
- The Indians have homered in a season-high 10 games.
- The Tribe has lost eight straight games against AL Central opponents. Not good.
- The Foo Fighters are playing next door at the Q tonight. Not sure if the Jimmy Buffet cover band is serving as the opening act.
Jamey Carroll pulled a couple reporters aside before today’s game and said, “The road to the Super Bowl starts tomorrow.”
It was pretty clear which training camp opening Carroll was excited about.
Carroll has the Colts logo on his flip-flops and his keychain. His 5-month-old twins, daughter Mackenzie and son Cole, already wear Colts gear. Mackenzie has a Joseph Addai onesie and Cole has a Bob Sanders onesie. Unfortunately, a Peyton Manning was unavailable.
And Carroll isn’t worried about Manning, nursing a sore knee, being unavailable for the season opener.
“He’ll be back by the third preseason game,” Carroll said confidently.
That’s disappointing, as I was really looking forward to the Jim Sorgi era.
Anyway, while the NFL is quickly becoming the hot topic in the clubhouse, there’s still plenty of baseball to be played. And the Indians and Angels will do so at the ungodly hour of 12:35 p.m. PT today. Here are the lineups…
INDIANS (44-55): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, RF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Andy Marte, C Sal Fasano, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Aaron Laffey (5-6, 3.61 ERA).
ANGELS (61-39): 3B Chone Figgins, 1B Casey Kotchman, SS Erick Aybar, DH Vladimir Guerrero, RF Juan Rivera, 2B Howie Kendrick, LF Garret Anderson, CF Gary Matthews Jr., C Jeff Mathis. RHP John Lackey (7-2, 2.58).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Suffice to say Eric Wedge wasn’t impressed with his offense’s effort against Jered Weaver and his array of curves and changeups last night. The Indians made Weaver throw 77 pithces in three innings but had just two runs to show for it. “At a certain point, if a guy throws nine out of 10 changeups, you might want to look for a changeup on the 11th pitch,” Wedge quipped.
- If the Indians win today, it will be their first series win in Anaheim since May 9-11 of 2005.
- Casey Blake has a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .387 with two homers and seven RBIs. He’s hit in 12 of 13 games.
- The Indians were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position last night.
- Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez is on pace for 66 saves this season, which would blow away the MLB record of 57, set by Bobby Thigpen of the White Sox in 1990.
- This has nothing to do with anything, really, but Masa Kobayashi is wearing a T-shirt that says, “I’m huge in Japan.” It was given to him on this trip by Paul Byrd.