August 2008

Oye Como Va

From the Indians…

CA CARLOS SANTANA who the Indians received from the LA Dodgers in the Casey Blake trade on July 26th has been promoted from Kinston to AA Akron… In 29 games at Kinston, he hit .352 (37-105) with 34 runs scored, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 6HR and 19RBI… Combined on the year, between Inland Empire and Kinston he is batting .330 (150-455) with 122 runs scored, 39 doubles, 5 triples, 20HR and 115RBI in 128 games… He leads ALL of Minor League Baseball in runs scored (122–20 more than anyone else) and is T2nd in RBI (115)… Santana will be in uniform for the Aeros tonight as they take on the Erie Sea Wolves at 6:05PM in Erie.

They swept away all the streamers after the Labor Day parade

It’s a holiday weekend — the holiday being the return of college football.

Still, it’s hard to get overly excited about the games on today’s slate. Was it really necessary for Ohio State and Youngstown State to even take the field today? Why not just give the win to the Buckeyes, give the money to the Penguins and walk away happy? I’m sure Beanie Wells would agree with me right about now.

Next week is a different story, of course. We are mere days away from the Ohio U.’s stunning upset in Columbus. Of course, by writing this, I risk jinxing the mighty Bobcats and/or lessening the shock value of their impending victory. But that’s just how confident I am. Or maybe all those nights on Court Street warped my brain tissue. One of the two.

Well, there’s still plenty of baseball to be played, and, really, a series between the third-place Indians and beyond-last-place Mariners is no less exciting than that OSU-YSU matchup. So here are today’s lineups…

INDIANS (65-68): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, DH Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Shin-Soo Choo, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera.

MARINERS (51-83): RF Ichiro Suzuki, CF Jeremy Reed, 3B Adrian Beltre, LF Raul Ibanez, 2B Jose Lopez, C Jeff Clement, DH Tug Hulett, 1B Bryan LaHair, SS Yuniesky Betancourt. LHP Jarrod Washburn (5-14, 4.93).


  • Victor Martinez is back out of the lineup. The Indians want to ease him into playing back-to-back days. He’s expected to play at first base or DH on Sunday, and he could be catching as soon as Monday.
  • Sizemore has been successful in 28 of his last 29 stolen-base attempts.
  • LF Matt LaPorta made his return to Double-A Akron last night, and he teamed up with 3B Wes Hodges to hit back-to-back homers in the first inning of a 3-1 victory at Erie. Hodges, the Eastern League Rookie of the Year, is hitting .287 with 17 homers and 93 RBIs this season, while LaPorta is batting a combined .281 with 22 homers and 74 RBIs.
  • The bullpen has a 3.38 ERA over the last 12 games.
  • LHP Scott Lewis turned in six scoreless innings, striking out six and allowing just two hits, in Triple-A Buffalo’s 2-0 win over Pawtucket. Lewis is 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA since his promotion to Triple-A.

The blog will be back post-Labor Day. Enjoy the holiday. Both of them.


Hope Dies Last

In a few months, we’ll either elect our first black president, our first female vice president or our first Ralph Nader.

Obviously, anything’s possible these days. And the Indians, in the midst of a 10-game winning streak, are now 10 1/2 games back in the AL Central, staving off mathematical elimination.

Some people take this more seriously than others. Like the pleasant fellow who wrote me this:

I will remind you, once again, that the Indians were 9.5 games out of first place on September 7th, 2005 before making an unbelievable run at it.”

And falling short. But that’s neither here nor there, apparently.

He continued:

“Stop assuming we are all pessimistic idiots like you.”

I resent that. I happen to be an optimistic idiot.

Well, according to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds report, the Indians still have a 1.65 percent chance of winning the division and a 0.22 percent chance of winning the AL Wild Card. So there’s that. 

Chicago journalist Studs Terkel wrote a book with one of my all-time favorite titles, “Hope Dies Last.” With that notion in mind, I’m dedicating this blog entry to all the non-pessimistic people, idiot or otherwise, who think the Indians can pull of a miracle here. 

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (65-67): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, DH David Dellucci, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Victor Martinez, LF Shin-Soo Choo, RF Franklin Gutierrez, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte. LHP Jeremy Sowers (2-6, 5.95).

MARINERS (50-83): RF Ichiro Suzuki, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, LF Raul Ibanez, 3B Adrian Beltre, 2B Jose Lopez, CF Wladimir Balentien, C Kenji Johjima, DH Jeff Clement, 1B Miguel Cairo. RHP Felix Hernandez (8-8, 3.28).


  • The Indians’ record since trading CC Sabathia is 28-16. The Brewers’ record in that same span is 28-17.
  • Look for Victor Martinez to return to catching early next week. He’ll likely catch about twice a week, playing first base and DH the rest of the time.
  • Travis Hafner returned to action at Triple-A Buffalo after a few work days and went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored before being removed late. He was reported to have had no problems with his shoulder before, during or after the game. He’ll remain with the Bisons through the rest of their season, which wraps up Monday.
  • The Indians took their team photo today. It in no way resembled the Opening Day lineup.
  • Cliff Lee’s 19 wins through August are tied for the second-most in club history. It’s been done four times, with Gaylord Perry the last to do it in 1972. Bob Lemon won 20 games before the end of August in 1954.
  • The Tribe ranks fifth in the Majors in August OPS with a .833 mark.
  • Don’t forget that tomorrow’s 3:55 p.m. ET game is a radio-only affair. It will not be shown on TV.
  • The Indians have batted .289 and put together a 3.96 staff ERA during this 10-game winning streak.
  • Double-A Akron has clinched a Wild Card spot in the Southern Division of the Eastern League playoffs. They’ll face the Bowie Baysox in a best-of-five series that begins Wednesday.


Vic is back

Victor Martinez will be in tonight’s lineup against the Mariners. Andy Gonzalez has been designated for assignment to make room for Martinez on the active roster.

Martinez had been on the disabled list since June 12 and underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow the following day. During his rehab assignment, he played in eight games at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo, batting .308 (8-for-26) with a homer and three RBIs.

Martinez is in the lineup at first base tonight.

Don't wear sandals, try to avoid scandals

You’ve heard of this Kwame Kilpatrick guy, right? If not, I’ll sum it up for you: He’s the mayor of Detroit, and he’s a crook.

The governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, announced yesterday that she will hold a hearing next week in which Kilpatrick will most likely be stripped of his mayoral duties for official misconduct. Apparently he didn’t double-down on 11 at Greektown or something.

Everybody likes a good scandal, and the good people of Detroit are no different. People around here are eagerly awaiting the potential release of text messages between Kilpatrick and a slain exotic dancer. Kilpatrick and other city officials are being sued on charges of obstructing the investigation into the dancer’s death.

If the messages are devoid of “haha,” “lol” or anything even remotely resembling a smiley face, I say let Kilpatrick go. Otherwise, lock him up.

Anyway, that’s the big story here. Well, that and this scintillating series between the third-place Indians and fourth-place Tigers. Tonight’s lineups are as follows…

INDIANS (64-67): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, RF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Fausto Carmona (6-5, 4.40).

TIGERS (64-68): CF Curtis Granderson, LF Matt Joyce, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Jeff Larish, DH Gary Sheffield, SS Edgar Renteria, C Brandon Inge, 2B Ramon Santiago. RHP Justin Verlander (10-13, 4.42).


  • The Indians have a current nine-game winning streak less than two months after a 10-game losing streak this year. The last Major League team with a winning and losing streak of 10 games or more in the same season, according to Elias Sports Bureau, was the 2004 Tampa Bay Rays, who won 12 in a row and one point and lost 12 in a row at another point. The Indians did it in 1979 and 1931.
  • The Indians haven’t won 10 straight games since April of 2002.
  • Victor Martinez played nine innings at catcher and went 2-for-4 in Triple-A Buffalo’s 9-1 loss to Scranton on Tuesday. It’s still possible Vic will be activated before Sept. 1. Travis Hafner and Josh Barfield will not be activated before rosters expand. More injury updates, including info on Adam Miller, will be posted on the site shortly.
  • I always find it odd that the Eastern League has a Rookie of the Year Award. Hopefully they won’t initiate a Comeback Player of the Year Award, as that would be incredibly depressing. Anyway, the EL announced today that Double-A Akron 3B Wes Hodges is the Rookie of the Year. Hodges is batting .285 with a team-high 16 homers and 91 RBIs in 128 games. He is second on the team in runs scored (66) and doubles (25) and is third in walks (52).
  • This is the second consecutive year a member of the Aeros’ won the EL Rookie of the Year Award. Jordan Brown won it last year. Grady Sizemore won it in 2003.
  • Cliff Lee has won eight straight decisions. That’s tied for the longest streak in the AL in ’08. Lee is responsible for 29.7 percent of the Tribe’s wins this year.
  • The bullpen has an ERA of 3.25 over the last 10 games.
  • The Tribe’s eight-game road winning streak is its longest since July/August of 2005.


Good company

According to Stats Inc., these are the eight pitchers, since 1920, to win 19 or more of their first 21 decisions.

Yr    Name                                W     L

2008 Cliff Lee, CLE                   19     2

2001  Roger Clemens, NYY       20    1

1995  Greg Maddux, ATL           19    2

1978  Ron Guidry, NYY             19    2

1966  Gaylord Perry, SF            19    2

1961  Whitey Ford, NYY            19    2

1951  Preacher Roe, BRO          19    2

1931  Lefty Grove, PHI               19    2

Instant karma's gonna get you

If our forefathers had instant replay, we might still be living under the Articles of Confederation.

I don’t even know what that means, and I highly doubt it’s funny.

I don’t know what to think about MLB’s upcoming use of instant replay, either.

Mostly, I’d say I’m against the idea. We’ve gone over 100 years without replay. Sure, some calls have been botched, but so have some jury trials. Jeffrey Maier would be a nobody in the age of replay, whereas he’s currently a nobody who was once a 12-year-old somebody. Opening the game up to this technological advancement smells like a can of worms. Hopefully the system won’t be abused and the game won’t be slowed to a crawl, as it is in the NFL.

I’ll have a story on the Indians’ reaction to replay on the site in a little bit. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts. And don’t be afraid to suggest a better replay joke that can replace the one above.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (63-67): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Franklin Gutierrez, RF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Jamey Carroll, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (18-2, 2.43).

TIGERS (64-67): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Gary Sheffield, LF Marcus Thames, SS Edgar Renteria, 3B Ryan Raburn, C Brandon Inge. RHP Chris Lambert (0-0, 0.00).


  • Seven players from the Indians’ organization will participate in the Arizona Fall League and play for the Surprise Rafters. Thus far, six have been announced They are: 3B Wes Hodges, INF Beau Mills, INF Josh Rodriguez, LHP Chuck Lofgren, LHP Tony Sipp and RHP Erik Stiller. Lake County pitching coach Ruben Niebla will be a coach for Surprise.
  • For more info on the AFL guys, check out our buddy Andrew Gribble’s Minors blog entry
  • Hodges ranks second in the Eastern League with 91 RBIs. He might have been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo by now if he didn’t still have room to grow with his glove.
  • The Indians are on their first eight-game winning streak since Aug. 25-Sept. 1 of last season. They have not won nine straight since June 10-19, 2005.
  • LHP Aaron Laffey struggled for Buffalo last night, allowing seven runs on 16 hits in just 5 2/3 innings to take the loss to Scranton. Laffey is now 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA in five starts since his demotion to Buffalo.
  • C Carlos Santana, acquired in the July 26 trade that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers, didn’t spend the whole season in the California League with the Dodgers’ Class A San Bernardino affiliate, but he made a strong impression. Santana was named the Cal League MVP after hitting .323 with 34 doubles, four triples, 14 homers and 96 RBIs for the 66ers.
  • Ten former players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier will be considered for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee. Three of those 10 players — Wes Ferrell, Joe Gordon and Allie Reynolds — spent significant time with the Indians. The results of the vote will be announced Dec. 8 at the Winter Meetings.
  • The Indians are now selling “All You Can Eat Seats” (you eat food, not the seats, wise guy) in the right field upper reserved area of Progressive Field for the 16 remaining home games. A $32 ticket includes all the hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and Pepsi products you can handle. To take the Indians up on the offer, buy your tickets at and use the password “EAT.”
  • The Indians are also offering $25 Getgo gas cards, courtesy of Giant Eagle, for fans who purchase four lower reserved tickets for $80 or four upper box tickets at $72 for the three remaining Friday home games. For this promotion, use the password “FRIDAY.”


Let kingdom come, I'm gonna find my way

If you read the last blog posting and the comments section, you know about the “Banks Hypothesis,” which states that weeks are to be looked at in blocks. So if you’re referring to the Wednesday that falls in the Sunday-Saturday range known as “next week,” it is to be referred to as “next Wednesday.”

But an astute reader, known as “magrathean,” pointed out that the Banks Hypothesis fails to account for the notion that on a Friday, no one would refer to the approaching Monday as “next Monday” (even though they should, in my opinion, because it is the next Monday, but my personal opinion on the “next vs. this” debate went out the window long ago).

I would be doing a disservice to the three or four readers of this blog if I didn’t give Jim Banks himself an opportunity to respond to magrathean’s points. So here it is:

“I think when you get within three days away, it’s “this” and at four days and beyond it’s “next.” So on Friday, it would be this Saturday, this Sunday, this Monday, but next Tuesday, next Wednesday, etc. Why? I don’t know, but for some reason that seems to be the right break, mentally, at least for me.”

Banks has spoken, people. Let us all absorb his words and move on with our lives.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (62-67): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Franklin Gutierrez, RF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Zach Jackson (0-0, 5.17).

TIGERS (64-66): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Gary Sheffield, 3B Carlos Guillen, LF Marcus Thames, SS Edgar Renteria, C Brandon Inge. RHP Armando Galarraga (12-4, 3.17).


  • Travis Hafner is still feeling soreness in his right shoulder and won’t be playing at Triple-A Buffalo today or Tuesday. Eric Wedge said this is not considered a setback, but obviously it’s not progress, either. Don’t expect Hafner or Josh Barfield to be activated before September call-ups. Victor Martinez might have a shot at an August activation, depending on how he tolerates catching Tuesday and DH’ing Wednesday.
  • Cliff Lee is only the second pitcher in MLB history to win 18 (or more) of his first 20 decisions for a losing team. The other was Ewell Blackwell of the 1947 Reds.
  • Correcting an item from a game story last week, Cliff Lee is just the fifth pitcher since 1969 to start out a season 18-2, according to Elias. The previous note had been that Lee was the fifth pitcher all-time. Thanks to reader Joe H. for pointing out Gaylord Perry’s 18-2 start for the Giants in 1966.
  • Garko is batting .321 (25-for-78) with five doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs in 21 games in August.
  • Grady Sizemore is on pace to drive in 99 runs. If he drives in 100, he would become just the second player in history to drive in 100 runs out of the leadoff spot. The first, according to Elias, was the Angels’ Darin Erstad in 2000.
  • Shoppach ranks third among Major League catchers with 15 homers and a .511 slugging percentage.
  • Tom Mastny is 1-2 with a 2.57 ERA in seven innings since his demotion to Triple-A Buffalo earlier this month.
  • CF Tim Fedroff, freshly signed to his first pro contract, is batting .349 with seven runs scored, four doubles and three RBIs in 11 games for Mahoning Valley.
  • Matt Ginter was activated off the DL and outrighted to Buffalo.

Lastly, to the reader who took issue with my use of the plural RBIs for runs batted in, as opposed to RBI — because “Runs” is the plural and “In” is not — I’m in your corner.

Unfortunately, the Associated Press Stylebook, to which I pledged my soul and first-born son during my freshman year of journalism school, insists that RBIs is the proper designation, so I am bound to it.


Trust none of what you hear and less of what you see

I’ve got a note for you: The Saturday, Aug. 30, game against the Mariners will not be televised by FOX, as previously expected, and will instead be a WTAM and Indians Radio Network exclusive.

And now I’ve got a question for you: If I said, “Next Saturday’s game will not be on TV,” would you assume I meant Saturday, Aug. 23, or Saturday, Aug. 30?

It seems most people would assume the 30th, yet a small but vocal minority (that I am proud to be a member of) suggests the 23rd.

This is somewhat of a touchy subject with me. Today is Thursday. The next Saturday that will occur is Aug. 23. Shouldn’t that be considered “next Saturday”? Shouldn’t the 30th be considered “the Saturday after next”?

Thus far in life, I have only found one person who agrees with me on this subject. I’ll let you chew on it for awhile. And I’ll also let you digest today’s lineups in the finale of the battle to avoid the AL Central basement…

INDIANS (58-67): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, DH Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Jamey Carroll, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (17-2, 2.43).

ROYALS (55-71): 2B Mike Aviles, LF Esteban German, CF David DeJesus, DH Jose Guillen, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Alex Gordon, C John Buck, RF Mark Teahen, SS Tony Pena. RHP Zack Greinke (9-8, 3.92).


  • Your daily rehab watch goes as follows: Travis Hafner went 1-for-2 with a two-run double and two walks in his second start last night at Triple-A Buffalo. Josh Barfield was 1-for-3. Victor Martinez was off.
  • The Indians’ first four hits last night were all homers, as they scored seven times in eight innings on four home runs. According to Elias, the last time the Tribe’s first four hits were homers was on June 24, 1989, when all six of the Tribe’s hits in a win over the Rangers came on long balls. Joe Carter hit three, while Pete O’Brien, Andy Allanson and the immortal Cory Snyder each hit one.
  • Jensen Lewis’ four straight saves are, pathetically enough, an Indians team-high for the season. The previous high was Joe Borowski’s three straight from May 24 to June 6.
  • The Indians are batting .286 with 205 runs scored (5.7 runs per game) over their last 36 games. Their .859 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is the fifth-best in August.
  • Jhonny Peralta and Woodie Held are the only shortstops to have three, 20-homer seasons in their career with the club. Held did it in 1959, ’60 and ’61, while Peralta did it in 2005, ’07 and, after last night, ’08.
  • The last time the Indians swept the Royals in a three-game set in Cleveland was May of 2006.
  • Congrats go out to Jeff Sibel, of the Indians media relations department, and his wife, Tiffany, who became the proud parents of a baby boy last night. Thomas John (TJ) Sibel was born at 1:04 a.m. and weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce.  Welcome to the world, young Sibel.


UPDATE (1:24 p.m. ET): There is a bat in the hallway behind the press box right now. And no, not a baseball bat. A bat bat.

UPDATE No. 2 (1:47 p.m. ET): More on this “next” debate… Let’s agree, for the sake of discussion, that “next Saturday” is Aug. 30. Fine. My question to you, then, is, when did the 23rd cease to be next Saturday?

A few people I’ve posed this question to today have replied, “Sunday.” So, basically, this past Sunday, the 23rd went from being “next Saturday” to being “this Saturday.”

Using that same logic, though, if I said “next Wednesday,” would you assume I meant Sept. 3? My hunch is that you wouldn’t. You would be more likely to assume Aug. 27, no? If so, I think I just blew your mind.

UPDATE No. 3 (1:52 p.m. ET): As if on cue, my boss just sent out an e-mail that says the following, “Based on team schedules in the coming week…. I’ve decided to schedule a Central Division conference call for next Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.”

I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

UPDATE No. 4 (2:04 p.m. ET): I’m going to give the last word to deputy managing editor Jim Banks, who offers this sane, rational opinion on the “next” debate.

“To explain ‘this vs. next’ I think you need to think of it, as I do, in blocks of weeks. So this Saturday is the Saturday in the week we’re in, while next Saturday is the Saturday in next week. You’d say this week, meaning this week, and next week, meaning next week, with no issue of clarity at all. The same applies to days of the week.”

I can live with that, I suppose.

"That thing is lucky I'm not armed."

This is, I believe, my seventh or eighth attempt to do this entry for tonight’s game. My computer is being uncooperative, as computers tend to be.

I know I can’t really say bad things about a device that allows us to simultaneously keep up with the important things in life — bank statements, stock quotes and fantasy football scores — but I will say that back in the ’50s, when typewriters dictated the day, sportswriters didn’t have such distractions in their attempts to blog.

Before I throw this thing out the window, I’ll share tonight’s lineups with you…

INDIANS (57-67): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Zach Jackson (0-0, 5.40).

ROYALS (55-70): SS Mike Aviles, 2B Esteban German, LF David DeJesus, RF Jose Guillen, 1B Billy Butler, DH Miguel Olivo, 3B Alex Gordon, C John Buck, CF Mitch Maier. RHP Gil Meche (10-9, 4.13).


  • On the rehab watch, Victor Martinez caught six innings of Buffalo’s 10-1 win over Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night and went 1-for-2 with a run scored, two RBIs and a walk. Martinez is off tonight, as Travis Hafner and Josh Barfield return to action after their night off.
  • The Indians’ 20-14 record since July 10 is the fifth-best in the AL. The Tribe is 20-16 since trading CC Sabathia. So, obviously, they should have traded him a long time ago, right?
  • Jensen Lewis has been the Indians’ closer for about five and a half minutes (or a week and a half, to be more precise), and he’s already just three saves shy of the team’s season-high of six, currently held by Masa Kobayashi and the long-gone Joe Borowski. Lewis’ three straight save conversions equal Borowski’s season-best stretch from May 24 to June 6.
  • Matt LaPorta took batting practice with Team USA before today’s win over Japan and is expected to be in the lineup against Cuba in Friday’s semifinal action. LaPorta took a fastball to the noggin against China on Monday and suffered a mild concussion.
  • Class A Kinston catcher Carlos Santana, acquired in the Casey Blake trade, took a foul tip to the neck area in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game but was expected to return to action tonight.
  • Speaking of Kinston, infielder Niuman Romero went 4-for-5 on Tuesday to up his season average to .313. He has 21 doubles, six homers and 51 RBIs in 97 games. 
  • Lastly, resident Dave Matthews Band fan Jamey Carroll was saddened to hear about the passing of the band’s saxophonist, LeRoi Moore. The 46-year-old Moore died from complications related to an all-terain vehicle crash. “They’ve got somebody replacing him,” Carroll said, “but it’s going to be strange, because he was such an integral part of that band.”