Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Indians’

Reversal unfortunate for Tribe in loss to Twins

April 24, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — When left fielder Michael Brantley crushed a slider deep to right in the fourth inning, it initially looked like he had a three-run home run.

As it hit off the top of the limestone in right field, the umpires signaled home run, and Brantley trotted around the bases and back to the Indians dugout. But the Twins thought otherwise, and after talking to manager Ron Gardenhire, the umpires reviewed the play.

That proved to be the difference in the Indians’ 4-3 loss Sunday to the Twins at Target Field. Some persuasion from Gardenhire may have helped convince the umpires to take a second look.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to see a lot of balls like that, but I know the ball has to go off the top of the wall. We kind of decided that when we went over the ground rules,” Gardenhire said. “It looked like it hit on the corner to me, bouncing back.

“The only way it could do that [and be a home run] is if it ricochets off the [steel] fence. So in my opinion, it went off the corner, and that’s what I tried to explain to the umpires.”

Instead of Brantley’s first homer of the season, it turned out to be a two-run double. But the Indians weren’t complaining about it afterward.

“They made the right call,” Brantley said. I watched the replay two innings later. It definitely wasn’t a home run. It hit the corner of the wall and came back. A little unlucky for us, but that’s the way the game goes.”

After the official review, the Indians’ rally was halted as Brantley was sent back to second. Cleveland appeared to have Twins starter Carl Pavano on the ropes, but the review gave the right-hander time to collect himself and get out of the inning.

Pavano walked the next batter, Lou Marson, before retiring the next two to end the inning. Over the next three innings, Pavano retired nine of 10 batters he faced.

“I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t know if I gave up three runs or four runs and that I had to wait out there for like five minutes,” Pavano said. “So I threw for a little bit. But it saved us a run and we ended up getting a win, so it’s even better.”

“You get a little bit of do-over right there so you want to make good by it. But the guys made some good plays out there and I made some good pitches to get out of it.”

While they agreed with the call that it was not a home run, the Indians disputed the decision to put Brantley at second.

In their opinion, based on Brantley’s speed, he should have been awarded third base.

“Every rule has its loophole,” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “Is it a double? Is it a triple? You could rule it a triple with Michael running, but Michael couldn’t run hard because as soon as he stepped on first base he had three umpires in front of him signaling a home run.

“We wanted replay, we have it, it gets a correct call 99 out of 100 times, I guess. But it has its loophole that somehow, someway, still keeps the human element into it because the umpires have to make a judgment.”

Had the umpires put Brantley on third base, the Indians would have been able to drive him in with either a ground out or a fly out. And two batters later, third baseman Jack Hannahan flew out to right field for the second out of the inning.

While it’s hard to say what would have happened with Brantley on third base instead of second, the chances of his teammates driving him in certainly would have been higher.

The Indians would not score again, however, and it was left to the bullpen to hold the lead. But with right-hander Carlos Carrasco leaving after just three innings with right elbow tightness, that was no easy task.

Carrasco started to feel the tightness during his warm up in the bullpen, and when it got worse in the third inning, he approached Acta and the Indians brought him out of the game. The tightness affected Carrasco most on the fastball.

“Last time, against Kansas City, I threw 94 to 96, and today I threw 88 to 91,” Carrasco said. “Today it felt a little bit more tight in this spot right here, so I couldn’t throw the fastball.”

Carrasco allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout. After holding the Twins to just one hit over the first two frames, Carrasco got hit hard in the third, putting the Indians in an early 2-0 hole.

Fortunately for Carrasco, a pair of Twins runners were out at the plate on throws by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and it allowed the right-hander to escape the inning with minimal damage.

Choo retired Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla for the second out of the inning, after Casilla ran through a stop sign from third-base coach Steve Liddle. Two batters later, after first baseman Justin Morneau had driven in a pair of runs with a double to deep center, Morneau was Choo’s next victim at the plate on another single to right.

After he had already retired Casilla earlier in the inning, Choo said he was surprised to see Morneau take a shot at scoring on him.

“If he wins a Gold Glove, we’ll probably have Steve hand it out,” Gardenhire joked.

Jeanmar Gomez pitched in relief, as he had become available with his next start pushed back to Saturday by the rainout Friday and Monday’s off-day. Gomez pitched three innings, impressing Acta as he gave up one run on three hits and one walk with a strikeout.

After giving up a leadoff single in the seventh, Gomez was taken out in favor of Rafael Perez, but the lefty could not get the Indians out of the inning.

With one out, Perez surrendered a long double to right field off the bat of Jason Kubel that plated two runs to give the Twins a 4-3 lead they would not give back. The loss marked the first time this season the Indians had lost three in a row, sending them back home with a disappointing 2-4 mark on the road trip.

“We’ve got to get back home and start winning some games, that’s all it means,” Acta said. “We all know that everybody’s going to win 60 and lose 60. It’s what you do with the other 42 that counts. It’s a long season, we’ve just got to keep on playing.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians beat, 4/24

April 24, 2011 Comments off

Carrasco will have elbow checked on Monday

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Carlos Carrasco left Sunday’s start after just three innings with right elbow tightness.Carrasco, who first felt the tightness during his warm up in the bullpen, was removed after the third when it started to get worse. He will be evaluated on Monday after the Indians return to Cleveland.

“He said he couldn’t get it loose at all,” manager Manny Acta said. “We kind of sensed some of that because the velocity wasn’t where he was in the past, but he kept saying he was fine, just couldn’t get it loose.”

Carrasco said the tightness most affected him on the fastball, which caused his velocity to drop about five miles per hour on average from his last start. Finally, in the third inning, it became an issue.

After holding the Twins to just one hit over the first two frames, Carrasco got hit hard in the third, but some mistakes on the basepaths allowed him to escape with minimal damage.

Alexi Casilla and Denard Span led off the inning with a pair of singles and Jason Kubel added another with one out.

Following Kubel, first baseman Justin Morneau crushed a two-run double to center field that would have plated three runs, had Casilla not been thrown out at the plate by Shin-Soo Choo on Kubel’s single.

Carrasco was replaced by right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who was available after the Indians decided to push him back until Saturday after Friday’s rainout and Monday’s off-day forced them to alter their rotation.

“[Carrasco]’s going to be evaluated when he comes in, and then we’ll schedule something,” Acta said. “Now, with Carrasco [potentially] down, he can just slide right into Carrasco’s spot. We’ll have to see. We’ll have to evaluate him tomorrow and see how he is.”

Carmona, Santana getting on the job training

MINNEAPOLIS — After the Indians’ 10-3 loss on Saturday night, manager Manny Acta talked about the ongoing learning process for catcher Carlos Santana and ace Fausto Carmona.

In particular, Acta referenced a double-play situation in which he would have preferred Carmona throw a sinker, but the right-hander delivered a changeup that was hit for a two-run single. While he would have liked to see a different pitch, the decision was up to Santana and Carmona.

“We don’t call pitches from the dugout,” Acta said. “We call throw overs, pitchouts, stuff like that.”

When asked about the situation on Saturday night, Carmona seemed to have the same approach to the at-bat as his manager. The only difference came in the execution and pitch selection.

“I was thinking if we could make a good pitch down, we could get a double play,” Carmona said. “But you see what happened.”

Interestingly enough, Morneau’s single was one of only two hits all day off Carmona’s changeup. Every other hit came on a sinker or fastball.

Carmona was confident in his changeup, and had gotten most of his strikeouts with the changeup in his previous start. Could that have led to Carmona using his changeup too much? Acta said pitch selection usually depends on the lineup and how the pitcher feels on any given day.

“You’re not going to have every one of your pitches be the same every five days,” Acta said. “It’s like life, you adjust, adapt, improvise. That’s what it is.”

Perez hoping to face good buddy Valencia

MINNEAPOLIS — If closer Chris Perez gets an opportunity to pitch on Sunday, he’ll be hoping to see Twins third baseman Danny Valencia in the batter’s box.

“I own him,” Perez said.

But would Valencia say the same?

“No he wouldn’t, but I do,” Perez said. “I know I do. I got proof last year, I struck him out on four pitches last year up here. But during intrasquads, he says he’s hit home runs off me. There’s no chance. He’s got no hits off me ever.

“He can’t hit sliders. You can tell him I said that, too.”

Perez and Valencia, who had dinner Saturday night at Tryg’s in uptown Minneapolis, have been friends since they were teenagers. The two played together in a summer league in high school before they were roommates for two years at the University of Miami.

It’s during that time that they developed a rivalry that includes plenty of good-natured ribbing. While he had no trouble talking about his dominance of his former roommate, Perez declined to share any stories about Valencia.

“Nothing that you can print,” Perez said. “He’s a character, really self-confident. I don’t have any real specific stories, but we had good times in Miami.”

Acta says experience paying off for Tribe

MINNEAPOLIS — Everyone wants to know how the Indians have gone from the fourth-worst record in the American League last season to its best through 20 games in 2011.

Manager Manny Acta says it has a lot to do with the experience gained last year.

“It’s a fact that we do have a better ballclub, more experienced guys,” Acta said. “Last year we started the season with three guys that were going to play for the first time in the big leagues. And they struggled offensively, the three of them.

“Then once injuries hurt us with Grady [Sizemore] and [Asdrubal] Cabrera, the number went to five. That’s pretty much it, we were playing a lot of kids up here that were just getting their feet wet. Offensively, they struggled.”

That experience has translated into a much-improved run differential so far this season. Through 20 games, the Indians have scored 102 runs and allowed 76. In 2010, they gave up 106 more runs than they scored.

It’s not hard to figure out why that has changed when you see the Indians excelling both at the plate and on the mound. For the pitching staff in particular, Acta sees at least one significant difference that was learned through last year’s experience.

“In the second half, they threw the ball very well,” Acta said. “They threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, and that’s the same thing they’ve been doing so far. Those guys are at the right age, and we’re expecting them to continue to make progress.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Carmona, Durbin hit hard in loss to Twins

April 23, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — When talking with reporters Friday afternoon, Indians manager Manny Acta said he did not think the Twins were on top of their game yet, but he fully expected them to get there at some point this season.

They took a step in that direction Saturday, but Acta still didn’t think they had gotten there yet. The problem was, according to Acta, that the Indians didn’t take advantage of the Twins’ early season struggles in their 10-3 loss at Target Field.

“Right now, a couple of those guys, I don’t feel that they’re still on top of their game, and we were pitching them like they’re in midseason form when they’re hot,” Acta said. “I just felt like we didn’t attack them properly.”

Indians ace Fausto Carmona got the start after being pushed back from Friday due to the inclement weather. The extra day did not work out too well for Carmona.

After three straight strong starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and gave up no more than two runs, Carmona’s outing against the Twins got ugly in the third inning.

Carmona (1-3) went five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with four walks and one strikeout. After holding the Twins hitless through 2 1/3 innings, Carmona surrendered all six runs and seven hits between the third and fifth innings.

According to his manager, Carmona was not aggressive enough with some of the Twins hitters, especially Alexi Casilla and Denard Span, who combined for four singles and five runs scored in the game.

“More aggressive with the guys? No, I think I couldn’t throw the first-pitch strike,” Carmona said. “I think I was aggressive enough. But I missed a lot of first-pitch strikes. My slider was not working today.”

In the third, Carmona allowed four straight hits, beginning with three consecutive singles and capped by a two-run Jason Kubel double.

“He’s just one guy I don’t try to do too much with,” Kubel said of Carmona. “I know that if I try to pull it, it’s an out. So I try to go with it because his ball sinks and runs away. He’s a guy you have to bear down against.”

Two innings later, an intentional walk issued to Kubel came back to hurt Carmona and the Indians.

With one run already on the board in the bottom of the inning, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau followed Kubel with a bases loaded single, plating a pair of runs. In that situation, Acta and the Indians saw Morneau as a clear double-play candidate, especially after the first baseman had missed the Twins’ last five games.

Unfortunately for Carmona, he couldn’t keep the ball down in the zone.

“The Morneau situation, he hadn’t played in a few days with the flu, and getting IVs for four days,” Acta said. “[Carmona]’s a sinker ball pitcher, so that’s a double-play situation, we want a sinker there.

“If I’m in bed for four days, I think I’d rather see an 86-mph changeup than a 92-mph sinker.”

For the Twins, the 10 runs marked a season-high and the first time they had plated six or more runs in their last 28 games, including three playoff contests and dating back to Sept. 27, 2010. Twins lefty Brian Duensing, who also was pushed back from Friday’s game, dealt much better with the extra time off.

Duensing (2-0) tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts. Cleveland’s only run off him came in the fourth when Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and later scored on a Carlos Santana grounder to third.

“I got behind today in a lot of counts and wasn’t throwing first-pitch strikes,” Duensing said. “But I threw a lot of sinkers to try to get them to roll over. I’m not a power guy so that’s what I have to do — just let them get themselves out.”

Right-hander Chad Durbin, who relieved Carmona in the sixth, did not fare too much better than the Indians starter. Durbin was not able to shut down the Twins’ suddenly red-hot bats, giving up two runs on two hits in both the sixth and seventh innings.

With one out in the seventh, a 2-0 fastball to Danny Valencia was crushed for a two-run home run, putting the exclamation point on the Twins’ blowout victory.

“He pitched behind in the count,” Acta said of Durbin, who fell behind six of 11 batters faced over two innings of work. “When you don’t have overpowering stuff, you need to pitch ahead in the count. It’s as simple as it sounds.”

The lone bright spots for the Indians offense came in the fourth and eighth innings. In the fourth, Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Santana. Cleveland had three hits in the inning but could not string them together for more than the one run.

Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore added a two-run home run in the eighth, his second since returning Sunday from the disabled list, off Twins reliever Dusty Hughes. Acta credited Duensing for shutting down the Indians offense.

“He used both sides of the plate and changed speeds to both sides,” Acta said. “He was good, man. He pitched good. Can’t take that away from him, he threw the ball very well. He did that against us last year too.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians beat 4/23

April 23, 2011 Comments off

Hannahan embracing his return home

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — If anyone was more disappointed about Friday’s rainout than Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan, they were probably one of the hundreds of family and friends that came to watch him play.Hannahan, a 31-year-old St. Paul, Minn., native, is playing in the Twin Cities this weekend for just the second time since he was drafted out of the University of Minnesota in 2001. With more than 100 friends and family expected for each game, Hannahan ran into a little more trouble getting tickets at Target Field than at the Twins’ old ballpark, the Metrodome.”Any chance I get to come home and play in front of my family and friends and sleep in my own bed, it’s nice,” Hannahan said. “From growing up here and going to high school and college here, a lot of coaches, friends and relatives are coming out.”

Hannahan last faced the Twins in 2009 in Oakland. His last games at the Metrodome came on Aug. 18-19, 2008, when Hannahan went 2-for-8 with a double and an RBI in the series.

While they didn’t get to play Friday, Hannahan made sure his teammates got a taste of the Twin Cities in the clubhouse. A few hours before the game’s scheduled start, Hannahan had “Juicy Lucy” cheeseburgers brought in from Shamrock’s in St. Paul, a Twin Cities specialty.

While others claim to have invented the burger with cheese inside the patty rather than on top, Hannahan says Shamrock’s makes them the best, though he may be a little biased.

“I got the boys locked in on it,” Hannahan said. “I usually do it anytime I come in here. I tell these guys it’s the best Juicy Lucy they’ll ever taste, so I always bring in 30 of them.

“Mikey Runyon and Teddy Casper, who I graduated with at Cretin, they own it. They always hook me up and bring it in for the boys.”

As Hannahan referenced, he attended high school at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, which also is the alma mater of Twins catcher Joe Mauer and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

While Hannahan’s teammates, especially the pitching staff, may be glad to see Mauer out of the lineup this weekend, it’s a bit disappointing for Hannahan that he won’t get to see a familiar face behind the plate when he goes to bat.

“We never played together, but I graduated with Billy, his middle brother, and then Jake was a year older than me, so I played with those guys growing up,” Hannahan said. “I haven’t talked to Joe since I’ve been home, but we text throughout the year and I get to see him in the offseason.

“Hopefully he can heal up. I heard he’s pretty banged up, but Joey’s a tough guy. Hopefully he’ll be able to get back out on the field soon.”

Acta expects Central foes to make a run

MINNEAPOLIS — By the end of the season, the first-place Indians and last-place Twins very well could switch places in the American League Central standings.

At the very least, Indians manager Manny Acta expects the Twins — and the White Sox and Tigers — to figure things out and make a run at some point.

“Absolutely,” Acta said. “Those teams, they’ve done it in the past. Some of them made additions in the offseason and it’s still very early. A lot of the guys that are struggling right now are not going to struggle the whole year, and vice versa.”

Still, it would seem that the Indians have an opportunity this weekend at Target Field to take advantage of a Twins squad that isn’t playing up to its potential early on in the season.

Acta doesn’t necessarily see it that way, but he likes the way his team is playing so far. In order to stay at the top, he knows they’ll have to continue to play consistently at the same level, while the young players on the team continue to improve.

“You can’t compare yourself to others, you’ve just got to continue to get better yourself and see where that takes you,” Acta said.

One thing Acta does not want to discuss is what constitutes a “good start.” The way he sees it, with how long the baseball season is, if the Indians played poorly over the next few weeks or month, that could become a “bad start” to the season.

What does matter is where the Indians are in the standings at the end of the season.

“It doesn’t make any sense if we go out next month and have the same type of month the other way around that we’re having right now,” Acta said.

“To me, it’s playing consistent baseball throughout the year. It’s a long season. Would you want to go over and ask the Rockies if they would rather have a good April in 2007 and not win the 21 out of 22 that they won to go to the World Series? You think they would trade that? The World Series for starting 7-0 in April and then not making the playoffs?”

Acta very impressed with Gordon’s defense

MINNEAPOLIS — After their 3-2 loss on Thursday to the Royals, defense was a topic of discussion for the Indians. In particular, the notable difference in the outcomes of the throws by Royals center fielder Melky Cabrera and Indians left fielder Michael Brantley.

Whereas Cabrera managed an excellent throw to retire Indians catcher Carlos Santana at the plate to save a run, Brantley had trouble getting a grip on the wet ball, allowing Mitch Maier to score and tie the game.

Had it not been for the defense of Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, however, the Indians may have come away with a sweep, rather than splitting the series in Kansas City.

In the Indians’ 5-4 loss Tuesday, Gordon had a diving grab in the ninth to save a run and preserve the Royals’ one-run victory. Thursday night, Gordon had another defensive gem in left field and also made a diving grab at first base for an inning-ending double play in the ninth, to save at least one more run.

“He might have saved more than two runs [Thursday night],” Acta said. “He not only saved runs there, he turned that into an out. He played tremendous defense in that series.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians beat, 4/22

April 22, 2011 Comments off

Acta in favor of expanded playoffs

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — What does Indians manager Manny Acta think about the potential for expanded playoffs in 2012? The more the merrier.It was announced Thursday that Major League Baseball was still working toward expanding the field for the 2012 playoffs, with the most likely scenario being the addition of one more Wild Card team in each league.

When asked Friday about it, Acta was in favor of adding one more team into the mix, though he admitted he had little say in the matter.

“It will give everybody else more opportunity to get to the playoffs,” Acta said. “When I can’t change things, I just adjust to them.”

Though Acta has tended to be more of a traditionalist when it comes to baseball and its rules, he sees nothing negative that would come from the addition of another team in each league.

There seems to be a consensus that expansion is a good idea, though exactly how to implement it remains a question. Potential options if the field is expanded to 10 teams include a one-game playoff or three-game series between the two Wild Card teams.

“If you’re adding one more team, it’s not going to hurt anybody,” Acta said. “It can only help people.”

Sizemore free to turn on jets

MINNEAPOLIS — Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore still has the green light on the basepaths. The same is true of everyone else, said Indians manager Manny Acta, until they get the red light.

All joking from Acta aside, he said Friday afternoon that he liked what he saw in terms of speed from Sizemore since his return Sunday from the disabled list.

“He’s been able to chase balls back there and get extra bases,” Acta said. “I’m happy with the way he looks. We timed him in the Minor Leagues, and we can see him running. He’s not clogging the bases. He’s not going to do that.”

In five games since his return, Sizemore has settled in nicely to the Indians lineup, batting .421 (8-for-19) with two runs, three doubles, a home run and three RBIs. Sizemore has played four games in center field, converting all eight putout chances.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.