Daily Dose: Last-place Indians lose MVP

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After struggling through elbow pain for most of the month, Grady
Sizemore finally landed on the disabled list Sunday. Sizemore followed
up a strong April by going 24-for-114 (.211) in May and was limited to
designated hitter duties last week as the Indians tried to keep him in
the lineup despite problems throwing. Cleveland is set to get Travis
Hafner back at some point this week, so he’ll take over at DH.

Ben Francisco had been subbing for Sizemore in center field with
Mark DeRosa playing a lot of left field, but it was Trevor Crowe
playing center field Sunday with Francisco sliding over to left field.
However, once Hafner returns to soak up the DH at-bats it seems likely
that DeRosa will get most of the starts in left field with a
quasi-platoon of Crowe versus righties and Francisco versus lefties in
center.

While the preseason AL Central favorites end May in last place and
without their best player, here are some other notes from around
baseball …

* Edwin Jackson earned a spot on my preseason “busts” list because his
14 wins and 4.42 ERA didn’t match his sub par 108/77 K/BB ratio over
183.1 innings last year. However, instead of taking a step backward
he’s taken his game to a whole new level. A change of scenery and new
pitching coach Rick Knapp have worked wonders on Jackson, who shut out
the Orioles for eight innings Sunday.

Not only has Jackson sliced his walk rate by 37 percent, his
strikeout rate is also up 43 percent. He hasn’t pitched as well as the
2.30 ERA suggests, but Jackson has a 57/18 K/BB ratio in 74 innings and
has walked more than two batters twice in 11 starts after doing so in
13 of 31 starts last season. His mid-90s fastball has always been
intriguing and now Jackson is finally learning how to actually pitch.

* It turns out that Matt Wieters is actually human. Called up
Friday, baseball’s top prospect started all three weekend games for the
Orioles and went 2-for-11 with zero walks and three strikeouts. The
good news is that both of his hits went for extra bases and after
catching back-to-back games he was used at designated hitter Sunday, so
the Orioles will get Wieters as many at-bats as possible.

* Matt Gamel has gone just 6-for-28 (.214) while starting only half
of Milwaukee’s games since being called up from Triple-A two weeks ago,
but general manager Doug Melvin said Sunday that he’ll stick with the
team through at least the end of interleague play on June 25. Rickie
Weeks’ season-ending wrist injury has given Gamel more starts of late
and he may be in the majors for good by then.

* Carl Pavano has been one of the rare bright spots for the Indians
and turned in another solid outing Sunday, holding his ex-Yankees
teammates to three runs in 7.1 innings. Pavano got stuck with a
no-decision despite leaving up 4-2 and his ERA remains ugly at 5.29,
but since allowing nine runs in his Cleveland debut he has a 4.07 ERA
and 49/10 K/BB ratio in 62 innings spread over 10 starts.

AL Quick Hits: Kevin Youkilis homered twice Sunday and leads the
league with a 1.150 OPS … Zack Greinke allowed more than two runs
Sunday for the first time this year, taking a no-decision for seven
innings of four-run ball … Ervin Santana struggled again Sunday and has
now allowed 19 runs in 18 innings since coming off the disabled list …
Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-5 with a homer Sunday to finish with a .377
batting average for May … Andrew Bailey blew what would’ve been a
five-out save Sunday, but ended up with a win instead … Mark Teixeira
homered and drove in four runs Sunday, finishing May at .330-13-34 …
Jon Lester broke out of his slump by racking up a dozen strikeouts in
six innings Sunday … Adam Kennedy went deep twice Sunday, and is
batting .390 with four homers and five steals in 21 games since signing
with Oakland … Josh Hamilton (groin) pinch-hit Sunday, but is still
scheduled to undergo an MRI exam.

NL Quick Hits: Adrian Gonzalez became the first big leaguer to
20 homers when he smacked a three-run blast Sunday … Brad Lidge appears
to be back on track after saving games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
… Ian Stewart went hitless Sunday, finishing May just 9-for-64 (.141) …
John Maine left Sunday’s start after six scoreless innings with the
same stomach virus that kept Carlos Beltran out of the lineup … Edwin
Encarnacion (wrist) is reportedly several weeks from coming off the
disabled list, but Edinson Volquez (back) is expected to be activated
for Monday’s start against St. Louis … Jamie Moyer came into Sunday
with a 7.42 ERA, but held the Nationals to one run over six innings …
Casey Kotchman left Sunday’s game after being hit on the shin by a
pitch … Chad Gaudin struck out nine and walked none over 6.1 innings of
two-run ball Sunday at Coors Field.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.