One attracts the other, when it's the losin' kind
Greetings from the center of the baseball universe, Progressive Field, where the last-place Indians (61-91) play host to the last-place Orioles (60-92), with history on the line.
If the Indians lose tonight, they will match a club record for consecutive defeats, with 12. That record was set fairly recently… in 1931, to be exact. Not that long ago, really. (Herbert Hoover, pictured to the left, was the president at the time. I wonder what he’s up to these days?)
But at least the Indians got one monkey off their collective back last night. They took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. It was their first lead in 70 innings of play, spread over seven games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the longest such streak by an Indians team in 105 years. The 1904 club played eight straight games without holding a lead.
Now, I’ll caution you that it’s going to be difficult for the Indians to match the losing streak record, what with the O’s in town for the first time this year. Baltimore has its own troubles. The O’s have dropped seven straight.
These two teams are a collective 62 games under .500 and 57 ½ games out of first place in their respective divisions. One of them, presumably, is going to come out a winner tonight, and there will be a glorious pyrotechnics display afterward that can serve to remind them of their incredible accomplishment.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Carlos Santana has been called up to the big leagues. But it’s not what you think. Santana is not active and will not play. He’s up here for the next five days or so to watch some big-league games, then study video with pitching coach Carl Willis and third-base coach Joel Skinner (who works with the catchers). This is not a new practice. The Indians had similar training sessions with Adam Miller and Fausto Carmona in the past.
- The switch-hitting Santana is viewed as the Indians’ catcher of the future, though first he’ll have to get his first taste of Triple-A at the outset of next season. The Tribe is raving about his year at Double-A Akron, where he batted .290 with a .943 OPS, 23 HRs and 97 RBIs and helped lead the Aeros to the Eastern League crown. “I’m very happy,” Santana said. “My team won the championship, and we had a big celebration. It was very good.” Santana said he’s proud of the defensive improvements he made over the course of the season. And I can tell you first-hand that his English has improved, even from Spring Training. That’s viewed as a major steppingstone in Santana’s ability to handle a pitching staff. “I worked with the manager [Mike Sarbaugh] and the pitching coach [Ruben Niebla] on my English,” he said. “They helped me practice conversations.”
- More from Elias: Justin Verlander improved to 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 41 strikeouts in four starts against the Indians this season. In the live ball era (since 1920), only three other pitchers were 4-0 or better, with at least 40 strikeouts and an ERA below 1.00 against one team in one season. They were: Gary Nolan (Reds) against the Mets in 1967, Ferguson Jenkins (Rangers) against the A’s in 1974 and Johan Santana (Twins) against the White Sox in 2005.
- The Indians are easing Matt LaPorta back into action, as he started at DH tonight. LaPorta, dealing with left hip inflammation, hasn’t been taking grounders at first base yet, but Eric Wedge said LaPorta should be back at his position “sooner rather than later.”
- Michael Brantley ripped a single last night on a Justin Verlander pitch that was clocked on the scoreboard as 101 mph. Even if you adjust for the typical scoreboard inflation, that’s still pretty impressive.
- Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner, the last two active links to a bygone era of the Indians’ lineup, are a combined 10-for-77 over their last 10 games.
- Weird weather pregame today. It’s hot, then it’s cold. It’s like a Katy Perry song.*
*It has been estimated that in a given 24-hour period, an average of 900,000 blog entries are posted worldwide. And I’m proud to say that this is the first, ever, to include references to both Herbert Hoover and Katy Perry. I told you history was on the line tonight.