Normally a managerial change is made after the season, or perhaps in the middle of it. The last time the Indians fired a manager in the middle of the season was when Charlie Manuel was let go part-way through the 2002 campaign. 10 years later, the Indians again have an interim manager, but this case is quite a bit different.
Sandy Alomar tonight became the 45th manager of the Cleveland Indians tonight, but his tenure may only last a week. Although he's on the short list of candidates for the position, he has some serious competition in Terry Francona, who confirmed today that he's interested in the position.
But there's still games to manage in the major-league season, and until the last out is recorded next Wednesday, Alomar's the manager. His first game turned out to be his first win, as the Indians beat the Royals 8-5 behind a shockingly robust offense and the shockingly effective David Huff.
Let's talk about Huff first. David has been making of late of performing well just before being written off, whether it was his decent stretch of starts last year, or this September's string of appearances. He got the call this September, but he wasn't ticketed for the rotation. Until Roberto Hernandez suffered an ankle injury and Jeanmar Gomez completely fell apart, Huff was going to pitch in long relief (ie, garbage time) situations. But thanks to the aforementioned pitchers giving way, Huff has been given one last opportunity, and to this point has taken advantage of it. Pitching for the second straight time against the Royals, Huff held Kansas City to three runs in six innings, and striking out 5 batters in the process. He allowed eight hits, one of which was a Billy Butler two-run homer in the sixth.
Huff probably could have gone out for the seventh, but manager Sandy Alomar instead opted to bring Scott Maine in to get some work. Maine, who is also getting an audition this September, didn't fare as well, allowing all three of the batters he faced to reach on base hits. But the Indians had a rather large lead, and thanks to the usual bullpen suspects, the Royals didn't get any closer than 8-5.
The Indians had a September lineup; both Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera were out with injuries, and Travis Hafner was out as well. But the Indians - against a left-hander, no less - erupted for six runs on nine hits against southpaw Will Smith, a pitcher the Indians have had trouble with this season. Leading the charge was a group of players who spent most of their seasons in Columbus. Cord Phelps had three hits, Russ Canzler continued to rake, going 2-for-5, and Lonnie Chisenhall had three hits, all three of them against left-handed pitchers.
For those keeping track at home, the Indians will remain in a tie for the fourth pick in the draft, as the Twins defeated the Tigers 4-2 tonight. And the Marlins won as well, so they will remain a game back of both Cleveland and Minnesota.