Every picture tells a story, don't it?
Lining the hallway from the Indians’ clubhouse to the field are photos of old Tribe greats and some of the great celebratory moments in team history. One of the more recent shots, for example, is the one of Rafael Betancourt and Victor Martinez embracing after the last out of the division championship clincher in 2007.
Directly outside the clubhouse is a photo from Sept. 16 of last year, when Martinez hit a walkoff homer against the Twins. The shot shows Martinez’s teammates at the plate, ready to pounce on him when he touches home. It’s funny to look at that photo now and know how many of those players are long gone.
Luis Valbuena gave the Tribe a new memory to hang on the wall when he hit that walkoff blast against the Mariners last night, and Katie Brinager of the Indians snapped the excellent photo below to capture the moment just before Valbuena crossed the plate. (The running gag in the clubhouse is that the players don’t care about the win; they just want to get to the plate to be in the picture.)
This is a great photo for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that it opens the door to the old Sesame Street game of “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.” While everybody else in the photo looks excited, Jeremy Sowers looks like he’s upset that Valbuena’s home run pulled him away from whatever book he’s currently reading.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- You should definitely read this column by the Akron Beacon Journal’s Patrick McManamon.
- Excellent outing from Fausto Carmona (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K) today, as he earned his first big-league victory since May 14. And the Indians got an RBI each from Valbuena, Matt LaPorta, Wyatt Toregas and Andy Marte in the Nos. 6-9 spots of the order.
- The ghost of Kenny Lofton was present after the win, as “This Is How We Do It” blared from the clubhouse speakers.
- Some notes about last night’s hero, Valbuena. The Indians have clearly gotten a lot of things wrong this season, but Eric Wedge’s decision to stick with Valbuena, even as the rookie was laboring at the plate early on after his promotion from Columbus, was a good move. Wedge felt Valbuena was putting up good at-bats and didn’t look overmatched at the plate, and he said that would eventually translate.
- The early numbers, however, were ugly. After getting called up on May 2, Valbuena entered July with a .195 average and .629 OPS. Interestingly, though, 15 of his 26 hits had gone for extra bases.
- Valbuena’s approach began to translate into more tangible success in July. From July 1 through Saturday, Valbuena hit .303 with an .851 OPS. And all along the way, he’s been a strong defender. He even looked polished at shortstop when Asdrubal Cabrera was on the DL in June.
- Valbuena’s blast was the first walkoff homer of the season for the Tribe. Martinez’s aforementioned shot had been the most recent.
- According to Elias Sports Bureau, Valbuena became the first Indians rookie in more than 41 years to hit a walkoff home run in the 11th inning or later. Jose Vidal did it in the 14th inning on June 3, 1968.
- Valbuena is the eighth rookie in the Majors to hit a walkoff homer this year, but only the second in the American League. The first was the Orioles’ Nolan Reimold.
- The Indians are taking the same precautions with Valbuena that they once took with Shin-Soo Choo, in that he’s barely getting a whiff of action against left-handed pitching. He has just 24 plate appearances against them.
- I guess that’s where Jason Donald, one of the acquisitions in the Cliff Lee trade, comes into the picture next year. The right-handed Donald, who is batting .257 (9-for-35) in 10 games with Columbus, could potentially take over the Jamey Carroll role, spelling Valbuena on days a lefty is on the mound.
- It still seems rather curious that an infielder putting up less-than-stellar numbers in Triple-A made up 25 percent of the returns in a trade that sent the reigning Cy Young winner to Philadelphia. But you can’t judge a trade like that a month after it takes place.
- When it comes to trade acquisitions, the hard-throwing Chris Perez looks like a winner. He has not allowed a run over his last 15 appearances, covering 15 1/3 innings in which he’s allowed just five hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts. Batters are hitting just .104 (5-for-48) off him in this stretch. It’s the longest scoreless innings pitched stretch by a Tribe pitcher this year and the most consecutive scoreless appearances by an Indians reliever.
- The Indians will honor all first responders (police, fire, EMS, physicians, nurses and military) at the Friday, Sept. 11 game against the Royals. All first responders, their friends and family members will receive a special ticket discount in the upper box ($12), bleachers ($10) and upper reserved ($8) sections.
- Kerry Wood is chartering a private jet to take some of his teammates to tonight’s Pearl Jam concert in Chicago. And why not? He is, after all, buddies with Ed Vedder. Pretty nice life, huh?