|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Ben Francisco||.283||Casey Blake||-.054|
|Cliff Lee||.161||David Dellucci||-.054|
|Michael Aubrey||.079||Asdrubal Cabrera||-.052|
Since his last recall, Ben Francisco has hit .356/.391/.559, not counting tonight. No one batter can really carry a lineup if nobody else is contributing, but Ben's been by far the best offensive player the Indians have. So much so that moving him into the cleanup spot got nary a comment from anyone. Whatever plans there were for him to share playing time with Dellucci and Gutierrez have been scrapped; now the only hard decision Eric Wedge will have to make about his outfielders is which of the other two guys is going to hurt the lineup the least.
Francisco has quickly shown that nobody's getting a fastball by him, whether it be at his knees or at his shoulder. And he'll crush any breaking pitch you leave on the inner half of the plate. Scott Feldman learned the hard way when Francisco gave the Indians the lead with a three-run shot in the third. The adjustment's going to come, probably as soon as faces these teams for the second time, but hopefully by that time the rest of the offense gets back off the mat.
The non-Francisco offense has had much better at-bats this series than at any time on the most recent road trip. I hate to jinx it, but Travis Hafner is looking a whole lot better; he's been making loud line drive and fly ball outs recently. Asdrubal Cabrera broke a long hitless streak an at-bat after had a lengthy at-bat. And Jhonny Peralta seems to be on one of his sporadic power surges.
Cliff Lee made some early mistakes, but settled down against a hot Texas offense. That he pitched into the seventh was a big deal since the bullpen is extremely unsettled, even if you assume the Joe Borowski who just came off the DL is the 2007 version. The TV guys speculated that Rafael Perez stayed to pitch the eighth against three right-handers because of who the Rangers had on the bench. While I suppose that was part of the decision, I would have to think that the overriding factor for keeping Perez had more to do with the way Betancourt has pitched of late.