Indians notebook: Wedge's playbook all played out?
There comes a time when there are simply no more moves to make.
Cleveland Manager Eric Wedge admitted to being nearly at that point with his team’s slumping offense prior to Wednesday’s game at Detroit. The Indians had scored three runs or fewer 16 times in the last 26 games since July 23.
“When you go through something like this, you try everything,” Wedge said. “Ultimately, (the players) still have to have confidence in each other, and in themselves, and believe they’re going to come out of this and get it going again.”
Wedge has juggled the batting order, moving Kenny Lofton into the leadoff spot and dropping Grady Sizemore into the No. 3 hole.
He has juggled the starting lineup, sending Josh Barfield to the bench in favor of rookie Asdrubal Cabrera and installing a platoon of Lofton and Jason Michaels in left field.
He has called team meetings. He has let the players conduct players-only meetings.
Now it’s up to those players, who are batting .249 with a .317 on-base percentage and .383 slugging percentage in the second half of the season after a .272/.350/.442 first half.
“Maybe we didn’t have the focus we needed,” third baseman Casey Blake said after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Tigers. “Sometimes you have to give the other pitcher credit. It’s been a tough stretch for us as a ballclub.”
It has become apparent that perhaps the Indians don’t have the speed they need to find other ways to score when the power hitters aren’t hitting for power. The Nos. 4 through 8 hitters Tuesday were Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Ryan Garko, Trot Nixon and Jhonny Peralta — combine for ten of the slowest feet in baseball.
“When you talk about creating runs or doing something to manufacture runs. ... we’re not a speedy team,” Wedge said. “You’ve got to get your knocks or drive the ball to score runs. That’s something we’re going to take a good look at (after the season).”
Meanwhile, the Indians will just keep plugging along until a turnaround begins.
“You’ve got to keep going up there, keep fighting, make adjustments, take some chances, take some risks,” Wedge said. “We need the guys we count on to lead the way. It’s as simple as that. That’s the way it works, especially at this time of the year. We’ve got to stay strong.”
COMING UP The series concludes this afternoon at 1:05. Jake Westbrook (4-7, 4.75) will start against Nate Robertson (7-10, 5.13).
MR. EFFICIENCY Fausto Carmona needed just 77 pitches to work eight innings Tuesday. The only other pitcher in the big leagues this season to work eight or more innings and throw 80 or fewer pitches, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, was Colorado RHP Aaron Cook. He threw just 74 pitches during a complete-game, 10-2 victory over San Diego on July 25. “It’s amazing just how efficient Fausto was,” Indians Manager Eric Wedge said. “He did a great job of mixing his pitches. Because of the way he mixed his pitches, it made his sinker that much more effective.”
NO OFFENSE The Indians and Tigers combined for four hits Tuesday. The last time the Indians played in a game with four combined hits was April 18, 1971. Cleveland defeated Washington, 1-0, and got a complete-game, one-hit shutout from Steve Dunning.
TIGER TALES Detroit OF Gary Sheffield said inflammation in his right shoulder will shut him down indefinitely. “Sept. 1 is just around the corner; if not, I’d go on the DL,” Sheffield said. “It’s more inflamed now than its ever been.” Sheffield said he cannot take any more cortisone shots in his shoulder before the season ends.
ON THE FARM First-round draft pick Beau Mills has been promoted from Single-A Lake County to Single-A Kinston. Mills has hit .271 with 12 doubles, five home runs and 36 RBIs in 44 games at Lake County.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.