4/16: Indians vs. White Sox
The tarp’s on the field and BP was called off, but, as of 5 p.m. ET, it’s no longer raining at Progressive Field. Whether the weather will change remains to be seen, but I’ll let you know if tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch is in jeopardy.
UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): Tarp’s off, and radar’s clear. Play ball.
INDIANS (3-6): SS Cabrera, CF Sizemore, RF Choo, 3B Peralta, DH Hafner, 1B LaPorta, LF Kearns, 2B Valbuena, C Marson. RHP Talbot (0-1, 7.20).
WHITE SOX (4-6): LF Pierre, 2B Beckham, RF Quentin, 1B Konerko, DH Kotsay, CF Rios, C Pierzynski, SS Ramirez, 3B Teahen. LHP Buehrle (2-0, 2.40).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Today marks the 70th anniversary of Bob Feller’s Opening Day no-hitter against the Sox. Read all about it here.
- You might have noticed the Indians have had some trouble with Mark Buehrle lately. He hasn’t allowed a run to them in his last 14 2/3 innings. So why isn’t catcher Mike Redmond (12-for-39 against Buehrle) in the lineup tonight? “We need to play Lou Marson here,” Manny Acta said. Acta obviously values the importance of Marson’s development time.
- And yet, Acta is playing the hotter hand in giving Austin Kearns consecutive starts over the slumping Michael Brantley. Kearns enters tonight’s game with a .286 average (4-for-14, two doubles) in four games, whereas Brantley is 1-for-his-last-12. Acta went with Kearns against the left-handed Matt Harrison and Buehrle. Said Acta: “Kearns has swung the bat well, and we want to put Michael in a position where he can be successful and help him get through a little slump.”
- Brantley’s days up here could be numbered, as Russell Branyan nears his activation from the DL. Branyan’s rehab assignment was transferred to Double-A Akron, where he’s scheduled to play nine innings at first base tonight. He has yet to play back-to-back games, but that’s supposed to happen sometime next week.
- Kerry Wood will throw his third bullpen session Saturday and could face live hitters early next week. If all keeps going well, he’ll be back soon.
- The pie-in-the-face routine, which became a post-win ritual (a bit of a tired one, I might add) in 2007 came back Thursday, when Jensen Lewis got David Huff in the middle of his postgame interview with SportsTime Ohio. But this wasn’t even a pie. It was shaving cream on a towel. We know payroll has been slashed, but have budget cuts come to the Tribe clubhouse? Where are the pie tins and Reddi-wip? “These guys make enough money,” Acta said with a smile. “They can probably get a pie every day.”
- Speaking of Huff, that was some impressive stuff Thursday. He had just one 16-pitch inning and five innings with 12 pitches. He threw 104 pitches, 71 of which went for strikes. You’ve got to like that ratio.
- Huff has sped up his routine by getting to the mound as quickly as possible following the last out of the Indians’ half of the inning. Pitching coach Tim Belcher felt Huff was taking too long between innings and encouraged him to hurry up. Belcher believes that will encourage umpires to give Huff those close calls later in games. They like guys who hustle.
- Speaking of which… Thursday’s game was played in two hours, three minutes (which automatically makes it one of the greatest baseball games I have ever covered). Umpires’ room attendant Jack Efta tracks such things and informed me that was the 41st game played in less than 2:20 in the history of this ballpark. Efta posts the “pace of game” procedures in the room and the list of the quickies underneath it. Umpires who aren’t on the list are encouraged to remind themselves of the procedures. On Thursday, Derryl Cousins became the first ump to complete the “hat trick” of being on-hand for three of the under-2:20 games.
- Here’s a sign of the times: Huff’s complete game was the 75th tossed by a Tribe pitcher in this millennium. By comparison, the Indians had 77 complete games in the 1954 season alone.
- One last note on Huff: He’s made 25 starts at this level and won 12 of them. That’s another nice ratio. Fausto Carmona also started his career that way.
- After a rough first week, Shin-Soo Choo has reached safely in 10 of his last 13 plate appearances. “He’s slowed everything down,” hitting coach Jon Nunnally said. “He was getting a little anxious and wanting to do big things. Now, he’s nice and easy and under control and letting his hands do the work.”
- Tonight’s game starts in about 10 minutes, and the crowd tonight doesn’t look any more promising than it did Wednesday (10,071 announced) and Thursday (10,198).
- I was just handed the promotional item for Saturday’s “Earth Day Awareness” game. It’s a green Tribe cap made from recycled bottle caps. I’m too dumb to know how that works, but the hat seems all right. Even if you don’t wear it, you can use it as a grip for twist-off bottles, bringing everything full circle.