It turns out Jason Kipnis is not quite ready to return to the Indians lineup. After recovering from his strained oblique, Kipnis strained his hamstring before last night's game and was placed on the disabled list. This move is retroactive to August 13th, but he will end up missing at least 14 total games due to the double header against Seattle. In his stead, the Indians will call up the super-pinch hitter that is Shelley Duncan. This will be Duncan's 4th stint with the Tribe this season. I know what you're thinking, "Shelley Duncan can't play second base!" Well don't worry, because the Indians made another roster move as well, bringing back utility man Luis Vabuena for Ezequiel Carrera. This move is a delayed reaction to Shin-Soo Choo's return from the disabled list. The outfield will now consist of starters Michael Brantley, Kosuke Fukudome, Shin-Soo Choo and 4th outfielder Shelley Duncan until rosters expand September 1st.
If nothing else, this move will allow the Indians to pinch hit for, now starting secondbase man, Jason Donald with Duncan, while Valbuena will be available for pinch running and as a defensive substitution. When Kipnis returns, Valbuena will probably be sent back down, while Duncan may remain on the roster for the rest of the season. When roster expansions come around I wouldn't be surprised to see all these players back on the team along with Travis Buck, Cord Phelps, Mitch Talbot and Josh Judy.
Along these same lines, the Indians have announced that it is very unlikely that Carlos Carrasco will return before September 1st. Even though he is ready for return now, the Indians would prefer to use David Huff as the 5th starter for the rest of the season. When he comes back, Carrasco will be a spot starter and long reliever. This role is likely to be important as the Indians have 3 double headers left this year.
The Tigers have lost six of their past 10 games. They are hitting .263 (88-for-334) against the Indians this year, with Miguel Cabrera at .353 (12-for-34) with two homers and six RBI, and Alex Avila at .310 (9-for-29) with seven RBI doing most of the damage. Porcello and Fister are 0-2 against the Tribe in five combined starts.
The Indians took two out of three from the Tigers last week at Progressive Field. They are hitting .242 (77-for-318) against Detroit, with rookie Jason Kipnis hitting .427 (6-for-14) and Matt LaPorta driving in eight runs. Jimenez is 1-0 against the Tigers since being acquired in a July 31 trade.
RHP Josh Tomlin (12-5, 3.97 ERA) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (12-7, 4.37) tonight at 7:05,
LHP David Huff (1-1, 0.51) vs. RHP Doug Fister (4-13, 3.59) Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.48) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.98) Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Tigers Medical Watch:
CF Austin Jackson (mild leg injury) was hurt Aug. 16. He didn't start Aug. 17 as a scheduled day off, but he did enter the game as a pinch-runner.
OF Brennan Boesch (sore right thumb) left the Aug. 10 game, and he didn't play Aug. 11-13. He appeared as a pinch hitter Aug. 14, then sat out Aug. 15. He was back in the lineup Aug. 16.
2B Carlos Guillen (sore left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13.
RHP Al Alburquerque (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list Aug. 12. The Tigers hoped he could return by this weekend.
LHP Brad Thomas (sore left elbow) went on the 60-day disabled list July 25. He was shut down from throwing until at least mid-August.
RHP Joel Zumaya (right elbow surgery in July 2010) experienced pain in the elbow during his Feb. 27 spring debut, and he went on the 15-day disabled list March 30. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 18. He had exploratory surgery May 10, and he might be out for the season.
RHP Jose Valverde has four losses this season and each has come in the same circumstance. The defeats have come when Valverde entered a tie game in the ninth inning. His ERA in non-save situations is 5.40.
3B Brandon Inge doesn't know what to expect when he returns to the Tigers on or before Sept. 1, and neither does his manager, Jim Leyland.
RHP Justin Verlander is stamping himself as the front-runner for the AL Cy Young award. Verlander has become the first league pitcher to reach 18 victories and 200 strikeouts before the end of August since RHP Pedro Martinez did it for Boston in 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He is the first Detroit pitcher to do so since LHP Mickey Lolich in 1972. He is two victories away from becoming the first Detroit pitcher since RHP Bill Gullickson in 1991 to win 20 games.
1B Miguel Cabrera took a 15-game hitting streak into the weekend series with the Tribe. Cabrera had two hits Wednesday. He was hitting .397 (25-for-63) during the streak with 12 RBI.
RHP Al Alburquerque could return to Detroit's active roster this weekend if he passes tests related to the concussion he suffered last Friday in Baltimore. Alburquerque has been throwing off flat ground. He will return to the mound for bullpen sessions as soon as he's cleared, after which he probably will be activated by the Tigers.
Kosuke Fukudome won his first 'Player of the Game' as an Indian as he provided the winning margin by scoring twice and knocking one run in. After the Indians lost the lead in the 4th, it was Fukudome's 6th inning triple that gave it back to them. Kosuke also had 2 singles on the night for a final 'POG' score of 4.46. Matt LaPorta was also integral to the Indians win with a 2 run home run, but went 0 for the rest of the game.
Kosuke Fukudome knocked out White Sox starter, Philip Humber after only 1.1 innings with a single to his head. To that point in the game Humber had only allowed 2 hits and had struck out 3 batters. The Indians ended up scoring 4 runs against the Chicago pen, further decimating an already overworked bullpen.
The "Bullpen Mafia" did it's thing again tonight, saving Masterson's lead by pitching three scoreless innings, earning holds for Rafael Perez, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano and another save for Chris Perez. After a long drought without any saves, Perez now has saves in 5 of his last 7 appearances over a stretch of 10 games.
Jason Kipnis was kept out of today's game yet again, but this time it was for his hamstring, not his oblique. Kipnis has become a very important part of the Indians offense, hitting second in the lineup. Hopefully these muscle strains will end soon and Jason Donald can go back to being the utility infielder.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 4 - Chicago White Stockings 2
Fausto Carmona destroyed the White Sox tonight, only allowing a single run on a solo home run in his 8.1 innings pitched. Carmona earned 7.59 'Player of the Game' points for striking out 6 batters while only allowing 2 walks and 4 hits. This was his best start since May 3rd when he went 8 innings, only allowing a single run on 5 singles. It is his 7th award on the season and finally pushes him back into the positive for his season total, meaning he has finally helped the team more than he hurt it. His season total is now 1.00 compared to team best pitcher Justin Masterson's score of 94.3.
The Indians turned around a couple trends tonight. Before tonight the Tribe was 1-7 against Chicago this season and 59-51 against everyone else. If you can remember back to the opening series of 2011, the White Sox were the team that put the Indians in a 0-2 hole.
Along with the Indians trouble with the White Sox, Fausto Carmona has had major trouble against the South Siders. Fausto was skipped in his last scheduled start against the Sox because in his first two starts against them he had an ERA of 20.00. Tonight, Carmona had an ERA of 1.11 as he only allowed a single run in his 8.1 inning effort.
Carmona's 8.1 innings really saved the Tribe's bullpen as it was over-extended last night. Vinnie Pestano and Chad Durbin were both unable to pitch tonight after multiple innings yesterday. Chris Perez ended up being needed in the 9th and has now pitched 4.1 innings in the last 4 games with 3 saves.
The Indians gained a game on the Tigers tonight, who lost to the Twins. They are now 2 games back.
Although it was better than last night, the Indians are still having a huge problem striking out too much. I blame John Nunnally. The Indians should definitely fire him from whatever his new job is, because firing him the first time worked so well.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 4 - Chicago White Sox 1
Travis Hafner was the best player in this game, even though he struck out 4 times and grounded into a double play. In his other two at bats he hit a single and a home run, scoring 2 runs and knocking in 2 more for a final 'Player of the Game' score of 4.87. It is his 8th 'Player of the Game' of the season. Chad Durbin took the loss, but with 5 consecutive good outings, he has finally moved onto the positive side of the ledger with a season total of 3.3. Of course both Justin Masterson and David Huff average more than this per game played, but its a good start to making Durbin a positive part of the "Bullpen Mafia".
Shin-Soo Choo has played decently in his return and has filled in well in the Indians lineup while Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis have nursed injuries. These injuries have allowed Manny Acta to delay his decision on where to ultimately place Choo in the lineup. In his 3 games back he has lead off and second although he will certainly be lowered in the lineup as soon as everyone is healthy. So far Choo has done his job as a top of the lineup hitter by getting on at least once every game with 2 singles and 2 walks and scoring a run in each game.
The Indians brought the score to within one three different times tonight and tied it in the 9th despite the fact that the White Sox scored in 5 different innings. Without this tenacious comeback ability, we would not have had the privilege of watching baseball in the morning yet again.
If you didn't know the players on the Indians roster very well, this was a great game for you to watch. Every healthy position player played as did every relief pitcher and two starters. Of the entire 25 man roster, only Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson, Fausto Carmona and Josh Tomlin did not play.
Jason Kipnis has missed the last two games (would have been three if the last Twins game wasn't rained out) do to a sore side. He apparently hurt it on August 9th against the Tigers the night before he went 5-5. The Indians are hoping he will avoid the disabled list, but in the mean time he will be replaced in the field by Jason Donald. Kipnis played injured a few games and stayed in the lineup long enough for Michael Brantley to come back from his wrist injury so the Indians didn't have to do without both their one and two hitters in any one game.
This isn't exactly what the Indians expected when they traded for Ubaldo Jimenez, but he did keep them in the game. Four earned runs and 5 extra base hits in 4.2 innings are just not going to cut it in this Central Division race.
Alexei Ramirez cheated and got away with it when he blocked Michael Brantley from running to third on what should have been a double by Shin-Soo Choo. The umpire gave Brantley third, but Choo was forced to stay at first. Brantley scored on a sac fly that could have moved Choo from second to third, then he was retired on Travis Hafners double play. Who knows what could have happened if the umpire had made the right decision and given Choo second base.
Two days off in a row for the Indians, one scheduled day off and one postponed, have made the Tribe the team with the most games left to play this season. They have played 4 games less than Detroit and have at least 3 rain outs to make up against the Mariners, White Sox and Twins.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 7 - Chicago White Sox 8
The Sox have won eight of their last 10, but are 26-33 at home. They're hitting .274 (65-for-237) as a team against the Tribe with Carlos Quentin leading the way at .462 (12-for-26) with three homers and 12 RBI. Floyd is 2-0 against the Indians, allowing one earned run in 14 2/3 innings. The Tribe is coming off a 4-1 homestand, but have been outscored, 40-24, by Chicago. They're hitting .231 (55-for-231) as a team against Chicago with Travis Hafner at .286 (6-for-21) with one homer and three RBI. Masterson is 1-2 with a 1.23 ERA against Chicago. Carmona is 0-2 with a 20.25 ERA against the White Sox this year.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.37) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (10-10, 4.53) Tonight at 8:10
RHP Fausto Carmona (5-12, 5.12) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (10-5, 3.06) Wednesday at 8:10 p.m
RHP Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.69) vs. RHP Phil Humber (8-8, 3.67) Thursday at 8:10 p.m.
C A.J. Pierzynski (sore left wrist) left the Aug. 12 game, and he didn't play Aug. 13-14. He may return Aug. 16.
1B/DH Paul Konerko (sore left knee) was hurt when he was hit by a pitch July 31, and he was limited to designated hitter duty Aug. 1-14. He might be ready to return to first base Aug. 16.
RHP Gavin Floyd (ankle) left his Aug. 9 start. He is expected to be ready for his Aug. 16 start.
C Ramon Castro (broken right hand) went on the 15-day disabled list July 10. He had the cast and pins removed Aug. 9, but he will miss the rest of the season.
RHP Tony Pena (right elbow tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 28. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Charlotte on June 16. After making a solid appearance June 24, Pena informed trainers that there was further soreness, prompting him to be shut down. He started a new rehab assignment with Charlotte on July 20, but he suffered yet another setback with his elbow after four pitches. He was shut down for the season and will need Tommy John surgery.
White Sox News/Notes:
RHPs Zach Stewart and Phil Humber are in a holding pattern right now, as the White Sox have to weigh how the first few games against the Indians go before they decide if they will go with a four-man, five-man or their usual six-man rotation over the next couple of weeks.
1B Paul Konerko still had no timetable for a return to first base, but when he shows up to the ballpark on Tuesday, he will run through some drills to test his injured left knee. Konerko spent the last week handling only the designated hitter duties, as the knee recovers from being hit by a pitch more than a week ago. It was diagnosed as a bone bruise and did some damage to his nerve. If he can go on Tuesday at first base, that probably will return Adam Dunn to the DH spot.
RHP Brian Bruney cleared waivers, it was announced Monday, and rather than bring him back on the roster, the White Sox released him. Bruney rejected an outright assignment to Class AAA Charlotte, so that went into the decision. Bruney was 1-0 with a 6.86 ERA in 23 relief appearances this season.
Manager Ozzie Guillen still wasn't thrilled that the White Sox were still a .500 team, but he said he had to get over that and just keep winning series. The White Sox have won three consecutive series, posting an 8-2 record over their last 10 games.
RHP Gavin Floyd will start on Tuesday, when the White Sox resume play after their day off, and Floyd might be the perfect guy on the mound to welcome the Indians into town. It will be Floyd's 10th career start against the Indians and third of 2011. He is 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA lifetime against the Tribe, but 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts at The Cell.
A selection of the commentry about Austin Kearns over the last year. We'll miss you Austin.
4/7 Game Recap, The first comment: ...Austin Kearns popped out to the catcher, trying to sacrifice him to third. This was a mistake by either Kearns for not coming through or by Manny Acta for trusting Kearns (*Edit: Postgame, Kearns said he was bunting on his own).
4/28 Game Recap, Less than a month in, already getting tired of Austin: Austin Kearns had another chance today for a couple innings and squandered it as well, bobbling the only ball that was hit to him on the ground and striking out in his only at bat. If he keeps up this play, I wouldn't be surprised to see Shelley Duncan (who hit another home run tonight) taking his starts away from him in left field when either Grady or Michael Brantley get a day off.
4/30 Game Recap, Now I mentioned it twice: I've been too hard on the Indians for striking out so much and Austin Kearns for failing at baseball, so I won't mention here that every Indian except Michael Brantley and Orlando Cabrera struck out today and that Austin Kearns went 0-5.
5/8 Game Recap, See, I said something nice about him: Austin Kearns finally did something positive for the team, hitting an RBI single to give the early lead to the Indians. His defensive play was still lackluster, but at least he got a hit. Going into this game Kearns had less hits than anyone else who had played for the Tribe this year, including Travis Buck who has been in the minors for the last 17 games. He now has 7 hits on the season in 14 games played.
5/19 Game Recap, Speaking of backhanded compliments: Speaking of underachieving players, Austin Kearns had two hits today, including a double, and now has hits in 4 of his last 5 games. It's not much, but it may signify a bit of a turnaround. Kearns will need to play a lot better if he wants to stay on the team when Grady Sizemore comes back from injury. Right now it looks like Travis Buck may be the one who remains in Cleveland unless Austin can show something for himself.
5/27 Game Recap, Out of context: ...with Shelley Duncan in left and Austin Kearns in right, it looks like the outfield is made of molasses.
Indians Arguments: Batting Order, This is more complaining about management than Kearns himself: If Carl Crawford is roaming left field instead of Austin Kearns, we would have a more worthwhile discussion.
A Look Back: Tribe Hitting Through May, Part 2, A reasonable assessment sans jokes: Travis Buck is like a slightly better version of Austin Kearns. Both of them started on the roster this season, because Grady Sizemore was injured and remain on the roster now due to Travis Hafner's injury. Somehow during this time Kearns has played in more games than Buck... While filling in for Hafner and Sizemore they have not really impressed, hitting .260 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI between the two of them in 23 games over the month of May. One of these two will obviously be sent down when Hafner returns in a couple weeks and it will likely be whoever is playing worse at that moment in time.
6/11 Game Recap, I don't remember this, but apparently I wanted Kearns to pinch hit: Manny Acta obviously has no trust in either Austin Kearns or Travis Buck as neither have played in the last four games.
Make a Move, was my first real call to have Kearns removed from the roster. It's too long to repost here, but I maintain that I was right about everything. Three of the players I mentioned, Jason Kipnis, Ezequiel Carrera and Jason Donald, are now on the team.
6/16 Game Recap, It only went down from this point:Austin Kearns has not played in 9 of the last 10 games and Chad Durbin has not played in the last 4. Coincidentally, over the last four games the Indians have won twice after losing 14 of the 18 games before that and my stress levels have dropped significantly. Now that these placeholders have been taken out of the starting lineup and removed from any game action, the next move is to either bring up some players who can actually help the team or sign one of the many players that have been released recently.
6/22 Game Recap, My most enjoyable bit of the year thus far: Site note: In an effort to reduce the amount of negativity produced by BurningRiverBaseball.com we will no longer be making any mention of Austin Kearns until he either gets his batting average above .250 or is removed from the roster. I believe we have said all there is to be said about this particular outfielder and will now await the Indians response to the situation.
7/4 Game Recap, Some people just can't go along with a bit: Austin Kearns is lucky Joe Coblitz is not writing this game recap. Otherwise, those of you reading this might have got cheated on a fair analysis. The Indians took the lead over the Yankees in the seventh inning, 4-2, after Kearns' three-run two-out home run. It was Kearns' first home run since August 22, 2010, when he was playing for the Yankees. Kearns entered the game batting .196 with no homers and two RBI in 102 at-bats.
7/10 Game Recap, The end of censorship: Austin Kearns is being removed from my black list, because he has a positive 'POG' score in his last 7 games and because I'm ending all running bits before the All-Star break.
That pretty much leads to today, where we have a team without Austin Kearns. Hopefully, Terry Pluto will write a book about this team a decade from now and we will finally find out why Austin Kearns was on the team to this point. If he does write it, I'd love to know about Jose Hernandez as well.
Asdrubal Cabrera provided all the offense tonight and won himself his 15th 'Player of the Game' of the season. Cabrera was 2-3 with a 3 run home run, a single, a walk and a stolen base. The home run was his team leading, 20th of the season.
Jason Donald had his best game of the season with a single, a triple and a run scored. The fact that he has been able to come up from AAA and not be absolutely terrible makes Jack Hannahan the leading candidate for the "Austin Kearns Player who needs to be removed from the Roster" award. Talking about Austin Kearns, stay tuned and check back tomorrow for some more about everybody's favorite non-Indian.
Chris Perez now has three consecutive innings pitched without allowing a baserunner. Over that time he has earned 2 saves and struck out two batters. How dare anyone doubt the rage.
The Tigers won again, so the Indians remain 3 behind in the Central Division chase. All they can do now is try to win every game and play well against Detroit every chance they get.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 - Minnesota Twins 1
Justin Masterson shut down the Twins offense for tonight's 'Player of the Game', only allowing 2 earned runs in 7.2 IP. He has now won 11 awards in his 26 games played, making him the most important player in every game he plays. Masterson struck out 4 and only allowed 5 hits, all singles. He did leave 2 runners on in the 8th when he was pulled from the game, but Rafael Perez got the final out (and the win) with no problem.
Shin-Soo Choo returned early from his rehab assignment to hit leadoff for the Tribe against the Twins. Choo had a single and a run scored in his productive first game back. His return forced Kosuke Fukudome to move to center and facilitated the demise of...
...Austin Kearns is finally gone! There is one less glaring hole of uselessness on the Indians roster. I have no clue why it took so long, but it is time to celebrate. Without his dead weight on the team, the Tribe should be able to overtake Detroit in no time.
The majority of Indians hits tonight were on plays that could have been called errors, and there were very few that landed past the infield. Even though there were no home runs or deep doubles (Matt LaPorta's game winning double was a bloop hit) the Indians were able to pull it out and win. This shows the importance of putting the bat on the ball and not striking out 10 times a game.
Even though the Indians won, they remain 3 games behind Detroit as the Tigers beat the Orioles tonight. The Indians have three more series against Detroit this season, including one starting on August 19th in Motown. It is probably to early to keep a daily track on how far back the Indians are, but it is hard not to notice.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 - Minnesota Twins 2
The Twins just completed a seven-game homestand at 1-6. Jim Thome comes to Cleveland two homers shy of 600 homers. The Twins are hitting .272 (82-for-301) against the Indians, led by Joe Mauer at .600 (9-for-15). Pavano and Duensing are each 1-0 against the Tribe. Reliever Matt Capps is 2-0 with two saves.
Twins Medical Watch:
1B Justin Morneau (strained left wrist, herniated disk in neck) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 10 because of the wrist problem. He had surgery June 29 to fix the neck problem. He was cleared to resume baseball activities in mid-July, but he missed a July 26 workout because of a migraine. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Rochester on Aug. 5, and he will be activated Aug. 12.
2B Alexi Casilla (strained right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list July 28. He will be activated Aug. 12.
RHP Scott Baker (flexor strain in right arm) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 9.
1B Justin Morneau is set to be activated from the disabled list for tonight's game. He hasn't played since June 9 because of neck, arm and hand injuries. The Twins will have to option a player back to Class AAA Rochester to make room on the active roster, mostly likely OF Ben Revere or OF Jason Repko, although they also could be trying to lose a player via waivers.
RHP Nick Blackburn snapped three-game skid with 6 2/3 solid innings in Wednesday's 5-2 victory over Boston, surrendering one unearned run on six hits. In his previous four starts, Blackburn was 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA and gave up 32 hits in 18 1/3 innings.
CF Ben Revere leads major league rookies with 19 stolen bases.
RHP Carl Pavano (88) and RHP Nick Blackburn (86) have surrendered more runs than any pitchers in the American League. Houston Astros LHP J.A. Happ leads baseball with 92.
Former Twins all-star Gary Gaetti on Thursday was named manager of the Sugarland Skeeters, and independent minor league team that will begin play next season in the Atlantic League.
RHP Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.71 ERA) vs. RHP Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.71) tonight at 7:05
RHP Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08) vs. LHP Brian Duensing (8-10, 4.56) Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
*undecided vs. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91) Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
*Probably David Huff
Team Thome comes to town this weekend looking for HR #600