June 2012

Indians Game Information for Saturday, June 30

CLEVELAND INDIANS (38-38, 2nd, -3.5 G) vs. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (42-34)
RHP Josh Tomlin (3-5, 5.70) vs. LHP Dana Eveland (0-0, 3.00)
First Pitch: 4:05 p.m. (ET) at Camden Yards
TV: STO
Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

RARE DEFEAT: Last night’s contest marked the first time for the Indians to lose a game in which they scored at least 8 runs while out-hitting an opponent with 16+ hits since Sept. 8, 2009 vs. Texas (11-9 loss, out-hit Rangers 16-13), although it was the first time to shoulder such a defeat on the road since July 21, 2002 at Kansas City (13-12 loss, out-hit Royals 20-13).

JOBU NEEDS A REFILL: Despite a 1-3 record, the last 4 games of the Indians current road trip have featured an increase in offensive production for the Tribe…the club has hit nearly .300 while plating almost 6 runs-per-game over the last 4 contests, this after posting a .165 average and just 5 combined runs over the first 4 tilts of the trip.

LIKE TO HAVE THAT “ONE” BACK: Each of the Indians’ last 2 losses have ended with the club trailing by a single run signaling somewhat of a rarity for the Clevelanders in 2012, as the club entered this road trip with just 2 one-run defeats all season…at 12-4 (.750), Cleveland still owns the best record in the majors in one-run contests.

CABRERA IN CHARM CITY: ASDRUBAL CABRERA has hit 6 of his 11 home runs this season over his last 13 games beginning June 16, driving in 13 runs in that span…Cabrera has also homered in 4 of his last 6 games against the Orioles, all coming here at Camden Yards, and carries a .339 (41-121) career avg. vs. Baltimore, his highest career figure against any A.L. club…also has 28 career RBI vs. Baltimore (12 RBI in last 9 G), T4th-most for Cabrera vs. any opponent behind A.L. Central opponents Kansas City (45), Chicago (39) and Detroit (29).

AROUND THE BLOCK: The Indians have hit 4 HR last 2 games after just 2 HR over first 6 games of current road trip…Cleveland was charged with 2 errors last night to snap a streak of 6 straight games without a miscue; club’s .985 team fielding pct. is still 5th-best in the A.L…last night also marked just the 2nd time over the Indians last 11 games for the Indians pitching staff to be charged with at least one unearned run.

IT’S RAINING IN BALTIMORE: The Indians hold a 48-44 all-time advantage over the Orioles at Camden Yards (1992-present), winning 11 of the last 19 meetings…the 2 clubs split a 4-game series here last season.

Josh Tomlin: The Little Cowboy

Taking over Grandma’s backyard and dominating neighborhood home run derby as a kid, Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin is evidently comfortable swinging a bat.

Tomlin’s father, Jerry, signed him up for T-ball when he was four years old and spent hours sitting with him in front of the television, always watching baseball.

“[My dad] told me to watch the game and pick up everything I could,” Tomlin, 27, said. “I think that’s what made me better. I enjoyed watching baseball.

“I enjoyed being out there with my dad all the time. It’s something that brought us closer together, and it was something I loved to do.”

Tomlin, an only child, grew up alongside a busy highway. He said he typically rode the bus to a friend’s house or biked a few miles away to meet up with a group of friends.

When Tomlin was nine years old, Jerry constructed a baseball field in his grandmother’s backyard, where Tomlin and his friends met to play home run derby.

“We put a backstop there and a pitcher’s mound, and we’d go over there basically every day after school and play, just me and the other guys,” he said.

Tomlin played shortstop for two years at Angelina Junior College, where he hit .351 (73-208) with 17 doubles, four triples, one home run, and 42 RBI his sophomore year. Tomlin recorded eight stolen bases and was never caught stealing that year.

In 2006, Tomlin transferred to Texas Tech and became a pitcher. Upon completion of his junior year, the Cleveland Indians drafted Tomlin, who had recorded just seven starts in 13 appearances (40.2 innings) and an ERA of 4.20.

“The Indians made the decision for me,” he said. “I knew I probably wouldn’t make it to the big leagues as an infielder. I wouldn’t be able to compete up here as a hitter at all. I wouldn’t hit home runs; I’d probably hit singles and that’s it.”

Tomlin has done just that thus far in his career with the Tribe. In Interleague play this season, Tomlin finished 2-for-5 (.400) at the plate. In his career with Cleveland, he is 4-for-7 (.571).

He credits his success at the plate to the bat that [former Indians outfielder] Austin Kearns once gave him.

“When it comes to hitting, it’s mainly a joke more than anything else,” Tomlin said. “I enjoy hitting. I enjoy being a part of the game as a whole — not just on one side, playing defense. I feel like you can take a little bit of pride in [hitting] if you can help your team in any way possible.”

Despite owning bragging rights among Indians pitchers during batting practice, Tomlin said that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera’s play has convinced Tomlin that he could not compete in the field at this level.

“I don’t think I could ever play like that,” Tomlin said. “He’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The stuff he does defensively is pretty ridiculous. He makes plays look routine, makes difficult plays look easy.”

Through all of Tomlin’s success on the mound in Cleveland, Tomlin does not have to look too far to be reminded of where he came from. His thick southern accent and southern fashion has given Indians manager Manny Acta reason to nickname Tomlin the “Little Cowboy.”

“In 2010, he told me I need to get the cowboy up on the mound and get this last guy, so ever since then, that’s what he’s been calling me,” Tomlin said. “I think the reason he calls me that is because I wear cowboy boots every single day he sees me.”

Tomlin may have upgraded his view from the couch in his living room in Tyler, TX, to the Cleveland Indians dugout, but Jerry sure has not budged throughout his son’s impressive career.

“We talk a lot. He’ll call me and talk to me about [my game],” Tomlin said. “We go over what he thinks, but he kind of knows that it’s my experience. He just gives me words of encouragement, and we go from there.”

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Popper: Indians Press Box Supervisor

“Hey, Popper…” has been a constant in the press box for 40 years as Indians press box supervisor John Krepop fields sports reporters’ questions regarding in-game statistics. “Hey, Popper… Who currently holds the longest hitting streak?” … “Hey, Popper… When was the last time a player hit a home run in the same inning from different sides of the plate?” Whether a sports reporter needs a stat, a media guide, or a lineup card, Krepop, also known affectionately as “Popper,” is there to help. An avid baseball and hockey fan, Popper has witnessed seven no-hitters — six as supervisor and one as a fan — including one perfect game. Popper has worked two All-Star games and seven postseasons, and he has observed two World Series. In Popper’s time as supervisor, he has seen 15 different managers wear the Cleveland Indians uniform. Filled with statistics dating 40 years back, Popper’s most interesting statistic came on April 12, 1992, when pitcher Matt Young and the Indians defeated Boston 2-1 without recording one hit in the game. During the offseason, Popper works as the manager of the Visiting Dressing Room for the Lake Erie Monsters, and he works at the MAC Basketball Tournament every year.

Indians Game Information for Thursday, June 28

CLEVELAND INDIANS (37-37, 2nd, -2.5 G) vs. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (41-33)
RHP Zach McAllister (1-1, 3.96) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-3, 3.38)
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. (ET) at Camden Yards
TV: STO
Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

FROM EUCLID TO EUTAW: The Indians and Orioles are set to meet for the first time this season for what amounts to the front-half of a home-and-home season series, as Baltimore will also visit Progressive Field for a 4-game set July 20-23 to kick off the Indians first homestand after the All-Star break…the Indians hold a 47-43 all-time advantage over the Orioles at Camden Yards (1992-present), winning 10 of the last 17 meetings…the 2 clubs split a 4-game series here last season.

ZACH ATTACK: RHP ZACH McALLISTER will make his first career start against the Orioles tonight after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus earlier in the day…the Indians have gone 3-1 in his 4 starts at the big league level this season…began the year in the Clippers Opening Day rotation and has gone 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA (21 ER/63.1 IP) in 11 game/starts for Columbus so far this season in what is his 2nd full season at the Triple-A level…has not allowed a HR over his last 29.1 consecutive innings at Triple-A and has also surrendered just one HR across 25.0 innings for Cleveland in 2012…thru 4 starts for Cleveland, Zach has held the opposition to a combined 7-for-33 (.212) with 10 strikeouts the 3rd time thru the order and beyond.

15 Questions with Lonnie Chisenhall

Indians IF Lonnie Chisenhall, 23, was born in Morehead City, NC. In 23 games with Cleveland this season, Chisenhall is batting .271 with three home runs and nine RBIs. TribeVibe recently chatted with Chisenhall, who gave fans a chance to learn more about him in 15 questions.

TribeVibe: What is your inspiration?
Lonnie Chisenhall:
For baseball, it was just kind of my thing. It was a big thing [with] my dad and grandpa in my town. I had a lot of success early. I kind of developed early as a player in my town. I was really good at it, and you always like what you’re good at.

TV: What has been your best moment with your son, Cutter, thus far?
LC:
Any time he smiles kind of gets me going. The first few weeks, they like to cry when they need something. Now that he smiles a lot, we kind of turned the corner on that one. When he wakes up, when you’re feeding him, things like that.

TV: Why do you wear number eight on your jersey?
LC:
I do like Cal Ripken; he was one of my guys. It’s symmetrical. I have a big last name, so a small number underneath looks good, too.

TV: What is the best advice a coach or manager has ever given you?
LC:
Don’t take any day for granted, especially at the higher levels [of baseball]. You never know what day’s your last day. Have a good time, and get after it.

TV: What is your most embarrassing moment?
LC:
Last year, [the rookies] had to wear underwear on the bus in Detroit. That was kind of embarrassing, walking down the street like that.

TV: What was the worst punishment you ever got from your parents?
LC:
We had to write a lot of sentences when we were younger and we did bad stuff. A couple hundred sentences was an awful punishment for a little kid.

TV: Did you play any other sports growing up?
LC:
I played basketball and football when I was younger, but baseball always had the lead.

TV: What is your favorite thing about Progressive Field?
LC:
I think a good Friday, Saturday, Sunday night crowd is probably the best thing. You get the fans out there and have a good atmosphere. It’s nice to play with a lot of people behind you.

TV: Describe the ideal day off.
LC:
I’d love to sleep in, have a nice late breakfast around noon, 1:00, something like that. Maybe catch a few movies if there’s something good in the theaters. [Eat] a nice dinner, just hang out in the house, watch a few TV shows — not doing much of anything.

TV: You are on a desert island and can take three things with you. What are they?
LC:
Can I take water? I’ll take water, Twizzlers, and a Netflix app.

TV: What is your favorite meal, and who cooks it?
LC:
I like an awesome steak; it doesn’t matter who cooks it — ribeye, medium-rare.

TV: What would your career path have been if it was not baseball?
LC:
I would probably be something involving sports—maybe be a teacher, coaching sports on the side. It’d have to be math or science. English has too much going on for me.

TV: If your mustache could give the fans one message, what would it say?
LC:
Thank you for your support.

TV: What is the best advice your mother has given you?
LC:
It would be along the lines of always try your best, always respect the people you’re around.

TV: What is your favorite thing about manager Manny Acta?
LC:
Maybe the way he dresses. He always has a hat or some sort of accessory going on that’s entertaining to see.

 -Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Joe Smith: Detour to the Major Leagues

Indians right-handed pitcher Joe Smith never imagined that suffering an injury could lead to a professional baseball career.

Smith tore his labrum during his sophomore season at Amelia High School. His injury landed him at first base for several years and brought his high school pitching career to an end.

The Cincinnati native attended Wright State University, where he was cut from the baseball squad as a walk-on his freshman year. Smith continued working hard and wound up making the team his sophomore year.

Wright State had just hired a new coaching staff, and one particular coach was looking to convert one of his players into a sidearm pitcher. Smith challenged himself to regain his arm strength and learn how to throw sidearm, ultimately impressing the coaching staff and eventually Major League scouts.

“I just jumped up there and started throwing, and [the assistant coach] went and got the head coach. Then they tried to convince me to stay down that way,” Smith said. “It took a while, but I ended up just kind of staying that way. My arm ended up coming back, coming back, and I could throw a little bit harder.

“I ended up getting drafted in the third round to the Mets. It got me to the big leagues pretty quick.”

Smith was one of a handful of sidearm pitchers when he was drafted. In his first season with the Mets, he finished 3-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 54 games.

In 31 games with the Indians this season, Smith carries a 5-1 record and a 3.60 ERA.

Most sidearm pitchers live up to the stereotype that they are only successful against particular hitters. Smith said he believes he has an advantage against right-handed hitters, but he has done his best to eliminate that “specialist tag” and face both right and left-handed batters.

“I’m a little fortunate; I throw a little harder than most guys that throw from down there,” he said. “You’re more of a specialist guy, but over the past few years, I’ve been able to figure out how to get left-handers out.”

Smith said he proved numerous critics wrong on his path to the Major Leagues.

“Whether it’s stubbornness, determination, whatever the word, if you want to do something, you can’t do it halfheartedly. If it’s really your dream, if you really want it, you have to do everything possible you can do to make it,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, you can look back and say, well, that was everything I got.”

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Indians Game Information for Wednesday, June 27

CLEVELAND INDIANS (37-36, 2nd, -1.5 G) vs. NEW YORK YANKEES (45-28)
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5, 4.59) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (3-3, 3.29)
First Pitch: 1:05 p.m. (ET) at Yankee Stadium
TV: STO
Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

LONG AND WINDING ROAD: With last night’s loss, Cleveland fell below the .500 mark on the road for the first time in 2012 (17-18).

THE POWER OF GLOVE: The Indians defense has gone 4 consecutive games without an error, 3 shy of a season-high, and has been charged with just one total error through 5 games of the club’s current road trip…Cleveland’s .985 (41 ER/2796) team fielding pct. currently ranks 5th in the A.L. and 7th in the majors.

“U” OUGHTA KNOW: UBALDO JIMENEZ, today’s scheduled starter, owns the 7th-lowest June ERA (2.05) in the A.L., while the Indians have won each of his last 3 road starts.

WHO’S JOHNNY?: JOHNNY DAMON chipped in 2 more hits last night, including a 2-out, RBI-single in the 9th; he is 9-for-23 (.391) w/ 4 RBI over his last 7 games and is batting .293 (17-58) w/ 9 RBI over his last 20 games.

COMEBACK TRAIL: TRAVIS HAFNER (right knee surgery) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment tonight at Triple-A Columbus as the Clippers’ DH against visiting Norfolk.

TURN BACK THE CLOCK: Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the June 27, 2002 trade that sent RHP BARTOLO COLON to the Montreal Expos in exchange for LHP CLIFF LEE, INF BRANDON PHILLIPS, OF GRADY SIZEMORE and INF LEE STEVENS.

Indians Game Information for Tuesday, June 26

CLEVELAND INDIANS (37-35, 2nd, -0.5 G) vs. NEW YORK YANKEES (44-28)
RHP Justin Masterson (4-6, 3.98) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (7-6, 4.94)
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. (ET) at Yankee Stadium
TV: STO
Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

DYNAMIC DUO DUE UP: With last night’s defeat in the rearview, the Indians are scheduled to send JUSTIN MASTERSON and UBALDO JIMENEZ to the mound for the final 2 games of this series at Yankee Stadium, as the pair of Cleveland right-handers currently owns 2 of the American League’s top 8 ERA figures for the month of June – Masterson 3rd-lowest at 1.24 and Jimenez 8th-lowest at 2.05 (4 starts each)…Masterson enters tonight’s start carrying an active streak of 20.0 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, while he also tossed 8.0 scoreless frames in his most recent start against the Yankees last July…the Indians have won each of Jimenez’s last 3 road starts, while Ubaldo has posted a 2-0 record with a 0.89 ERA (2 ER/20.1 IP) in that span.

PATIENCE AT THE PLATE: The Indians will look to build upon several positive season-long trends at the plate in tonight’s game here in the Bronx as they attempt to end a brief 3-game losing streak and a stretch that has seen the club plate a total of 5 runs in 4 games to begin this road trip…despite these short-term struggles, Cleveland still owns the 5th-highest on-base pct. in the A.L. at .323, aided in part by the fact that the Indians are seeing an average of 3.88 pitches-per-plate appearance, which is 6th-most in the league…the Tribe has also drawn 258 walks this season, which are tied with the Yankees for 3rd-most in the A.L. behind only Tampa Bay (274) and Oakland (261).

 

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Cleveland Indians Town Hall: Q&A with President Mark Shapiro

Indians President Mark Shapiro addressed more than 100 avid social media followers Friday afternoon. Guests were invited to eat lunch at the Terrace Club, while Shapiro fielded their questions for an hour and a half.

Is the goal of winning a World Series every year a realistic goal? Do you have the means to be successful with that goal?
Mark Shapiro:
We sat down, and we spent time in each department, and we said, ‘Is winning the World Series the right guiding commitment for baseball? Should it be being a contender, or should it be making the playoffs?’ It just seems to me that if you’re not in it to win the World Series, then what are you in it for? Why do you come to work? Why are you involved? I would say that the beauty of the playoff series, the beauty of a long season, is that a lot of times it’s the hottest team at that point in time. I think our division is still an imperfect division, still a winnable division almost every year. Our goal never changes at any juncture in time, but as a front office, you have to have one eye on now and one eye on the future. It may involve decisions that don’t most benefit that moment, but may benefit in a few seasons. Right now is now; win the World Series. I think it’s possible.

Were you accurately portrayed in the movie Moneyball?
MS:
Thank goodness we got the Moneyball question. That was a great example of Hollywood. In that movie, it says, ‘Based upon a true story.’ It should say, ‘Based very loosely upon a true story.’ Not only was the event not accurate, I was the assistant GM, not the GM. I called Billy and recommended that guy. Billy never stepped foot in this office building here. He’s been in my office in Spring Training. He is a friend. I didn’t enjoy it because I’m thinking that’s way over-simplication of our job. We don’t make trades in five minutes. I don’t have 15 guys in [Baseball Operations]. I don’t have 15 guys standing behind me as I make a trade. When we make a trade, it’s a lot like someone making a sophisticated business deal. They found a guy with a receding hairline that wore a golf shirt and khakis, and I guess that part was accurate. I wish that was my office; that was a much nicer office.

Is it too early for @TheJK_Kid [Jason Kipnis] and @VinnieP52 [Vinnie Pestano] to catch a plane ticket to Kansas City [for the 2012 All-Star Game]?
MS:
It’s a tough competition at second base for Jason Kipnis. You’ve got Cano, Kinsler in those markets that have a number of fans coming through. He would need a manager to pick him. He’s an exciting guy, man. He’s going to be a great player—he already is a great player. I think Chris Perez, definitively, is going to be on the team. Setup guys are tough; they [make] the team very rarely. He’s one of the best in the game, but they very rarely make it. I love both of those guys and think they represent what we want in our players as far as makeup, personality, toughness, resilience, as well as skill and talent.

As we approach the trade deadline, is there anyone in the organization who is sort of an untouchable?
MS: As far as untouchables, theoretically, I don’t think there are any untouchables. Theoretically. There’s always a trade you would do with every player. There is nobody who is completely untouchable. Those trades are just not realistic. Yes, [Lake County IF Francisco] Lindor would be very tough to trade. He’s a center-of-the-diamond kid who’s gone out at 19 years old and done what he’s done as one of the youngest two players in the league.

The ‘What If?’ Campaign has carried over to this season. Do you think it’s time to move on from [past teams] and start marketing Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, and those guys because we have a chance to win now?
MS:
Part of what makes baseball special and unique, frankly, is that your grandparents, maybe your great grandparents, your uncles, your aunts, your siblings, all those different people can talk about a shortstop they saw play 20 years ago. Our current fans all remember that era, and there are great memories, so it’s just trying to make the association. It’s not saying that’s all that’s worthy of celebration. The ‘What If?’ is more focused on what could happen any night you come here. It could be a triple play, it could be a walk-off homer, it could be a contending team. How do you remind people of the special times they spent here? One of the most special eras of modern Indians baseball happens to be around those mid-90s teams.

It’s been awesome to see Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome come back. What are the chances we will see Manny Ramirez come back?
MS:
Yeah, not real good. There are moments in time when I look at [General Manager Chris Antonetti] and go, ‘We could roll out the whole ’97 team in walkers and wheelchairs, and we’d be the most popular guys around. It doesn’t matter if they can play.’ Listen, I was here during those years. I remember those guys. He’s 39-40 years old. If we felt like he would be better than even our internal options, we’d certainly give him a shot. We’re not anti-Manny. We’re continually trying to look at better options than that right now.

In closing…
MS:
Just from the number of tweets I got from people who wanted to be here but couldn’t be here and the number of hands that are still up that I didn’t get to, I’ll try to commit to you guys, and we’ll try to make this a regular thing. I don’t know if it will be biannual, every two or three months, or whatever it may be. We didn’t even get to me being able to ask you guys questions, which is what I wanted to do, too. We’ll try to do it again soon, and we’ll leave a block of time where I can ask you guys questions.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Indians Game Information for Monday, June 25

CLEVELAND INDIANS (37-34, 2nd, -0.5 G) vs. NEW YORK YANKEES (43-28)
RHP Josh Tomlin (3-4, 5.12) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-7, 3.57)
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. (ET) at Yankee Stadium
TV: STO
Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

BACK TO THE BRONX: The Indians are set to face the Yankees for the first time this season in what amounts to the first installment of a home-and-home series, as the Bronx Bombers are scheduled to visit Progressive Field for a 3-game weekened set Aug. 24-26…New York-AL held a slim 4-3 edge in the 2011 season series, although Cleveland has won 3 of the last 4 meetings…the Indians have gone 4-8 at new Yankee Stadium since this venue opened to start the 2009 campaign.

MONDAY, MONDAY: The Indians are 18-6 in series openers this season (8-3 on the road), winning 3 straight, 7 of 8 and 13 of the last 16 lid-lifters.

START ME UP: Over the last turn through the rotation (5 games), Cleveland starters have posted a 2.34 ERA (9 ER/34.2 IP) to drop the staff’s season figure from 4.70 to 4.50, still 10th in the A.L…the Indians rotation also has a 3.68 ERA (38 ER/93.0 IP) over the club’s last 15 games beginning June 8, 5th-lowest in the A.L. and 12th in the majors during that span, to fall from 4.73 – starters have just a 4-8 record over that span however, receiving 3.77 runs-of-support/9.0 IP…rotation-mates JOSH TOMLIN, JUSTIN MASTERSON & UBALDO JIMENEZ have combined to allow just 2 runs across 22.1 innings (13 H, 2 R-1 ER, 0.40 ERA) in their last 3 starts…Tomlin has beaten the Yankees in 2 of his 3 career starts against them, but will be looking for his first win here in the Bronx.

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