This was a nice day, and not only because the Indians swept a double-header. David Huff won himself a spot in the rotation by tossing seven shutout innings in the first game of the day, and Fausto Carmona got through six innings in the nightcap. That's two nice performances from pitchers with rather poor recent histories with the club.
Now I don't want to be too effusive with praise for Fausto's outing; he allowed eight baserunners in six innings against a weak lineup, and continued to fall behind to hitters. But two runs in six innings (especially in the steamy conditions) was Fausto's best outing since May, and hopefully a step towards a turnaround. The Indians will need Carmona to be at least this good down the stretch.
Earlier in the day, the Indians placed Grady Sizemore on the 15-day Disabled List with a bone bruise on his right knee. He'll return to Cleveland for further tests, but it appears that this DL stint will not be a short one, and Sizemore may not return this season. Sizemore said that this injury felt similar to the one he suffered in Baltimore last season. What's disturbing from my perspective is that this injury seemed to happen on a normal base running play.
Ezequiel Carrera will be the Tribe's center fielder either until Grady Sizemore returns or the Indians acquire an outfielder; there isn't another internal option in the minors. Carrera is not going to replace Sizemore's power production, but he brings some other things to the table. He looks smooth in the outfield in the short time I've seen him, and most scouting reports project him as at least an above-average defender in center. His speed is his best offensive weapon right now; he stole 35 bases in 39 attempts in Columbus, and he stole his second base in the majors tonight. The key for Carrera to be an effective offensive player is getting on base so he can utilize his speed efficiently. He walked 39 times in 375 plate appearances with the Clippers, so that's a good sign. If he does well at the plate, he may be moved to leadoff in order to move Michael Brantley lower in the order (Orlando Cabrera hitting fifth isn't going to cut it).
Carrera was in the middle of the scoring in tonight's game; he walked in the fifth inning with two outs, and would later score the second run in the inning on Asdrubal Cabrera's single. In the seventh, after reaching on an error, he stole second base and scored on Travis Hafner's single through the recently-vacated shortstop position.
The Indians got offensive production from another unexpected source. With the game tied at 2 in the seventh, Lou Marson hit his first home run of the season over the center field fence, a domain usually only reached by the league's elite power hitters. The home run came against southpaw, and was a continuation of Marson's success against left-handed pitching this season (.341/.404/.488 in 49 PA).
Rafael Perez and Joe Smith between them got the game to the ninth inning. The Indians held a 6-2 lead by that time, but Chris Perez came in anyway; he had already warmed up twice that day, so Manny Acta decided to use him even though it wasn't a save situation. Perez gave up a home run, but otherwise had no problems in finishing the doubleheader sweep.
The sweep gave the Indians a one-game lead over Detroit, and increased their lead over Minnesota to 7.
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