Daily Dose: Pena's unique season ends

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Carlos Pena’s strange season came to an end Monday when CC Sabathia broke two fingers on his left hand with a fastball in the first inning. Pena will miss the remaining four weeks after hitting .227/.356/.537 with 39 homers and 100 RBIs in 135 games, leaving him with the highest OPS in baseball history among players with a sub-.230 batting average. In fact, it isn’t even close.
On the strength of 39 homers, 25 doubles, and 87 walks Pena finishes with an .893 OPS. No one else has cracked even .830 while hitting under .230 and qualifying for the batting title, and Gene Tenace in 1978, Roy Cullenbine in 1947, and Pat Seerey in 1946 are the only guys to top .800. Pena also narrowly missed finishing with more homers (39) than singles (41), which is just Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire territory.
While the Rays turn to Willy Aybar to replace one of the AL’s most productive hitters, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin is getting a few games off this week after struggling recently, so Chris Carpenter took matters into his own hands Monday afternoon with a complete-game shutout versus the Brewers. Jody Gerut’s double in the fifth inning was the lone hit allowed by Carpenter, who needed just 99 pitches to record 27 outs and racked up double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season.
His first shutout since 2006 and 11th straight victory allowed Carpenter to pass Zack Greinke for MLB’s lowest ERA at 2.16 and he trails only teammate Adam Wainwright in wins with 16. Tim Lincecum once seemed like a lock for back-to-back Cy Youngs, but he’s now 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 233/55 K/BB ratio in 200 innings compared to Carpenter at 16-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 129/30 K/BB ratio in 167 frames.
* Jamie Moyer was bumped from the Phillies’ rotation for Pedro Martinez last month, but came up big when called upon to make a spot start Monday. J.A. Happ suffered a strained oblique muscle while taking batting practice over the weekend, so Moyer stepped in for him Monday afternoon and held the Astros to two runs over six innings before Chan Ho Park blew what would’ve been his first win as a starter since July.
AL Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (back) will be sidelined until at least the weekend after receiving a second root-nerve injection Monday … Tim Wakefield (back) has been scratched from his Friday start and will likely be given the next two weeks off … Mark Buehrle threw seven innings of one-run ball Monday to win for the first time since his perfect game on July 23 … Zack Greinke will get some extra rest after throwing 125 pitches Saturday … Aaron Hill left Monday’s game after three innings when his wife went into labor … CC Sabathia and Matt Garza got stuck with no-decisions Monday by matching each other with seven innings of one-run ball … Brett Gardner came off the shelf Monday and will resume splitting time with Melky Cabrera … Josh Beckett lost Monday, but turned in his first Quality Start since August 12 … Billy Butler went deep twice Monday and is hitting .300 with 59 extra-base hits … Jed Lowrie (wrist) returned from the disabled list Monday, but will be eased back into the lineup.
NL Quick Hits: Brad Penny tossed seven innings of two-run ball Monday, making him 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA for the Giants … Carlos Marmol is now 6-for-6 converting saves since taking over at closer following Monday’s perfect inning … Ryan Braun missed Monday’s game with a sore shoulder and Mike Cameron (hamstring) will be out until at least Friday, but Corey Hart (appendicitis) is due back Tuesday … Troy Tulowitzki exited Monday’s game with a strained back … Kyle Lohse came off the shelf Monday and is slated to start Saturday, but will be available in relief for now … Chris Young followed up Sunday’s three-homer game with another bomb Monday … Dave Bush figures to remain in the rotation after Monday’s outing was his first Quality Start since May 19 … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out a third straight game Monday as Ronnie Belliard went 3-for-4 with a homer in his place … Freddy Sanchez returned from the disabled list Monday, so Juan Uribe shifted to third base and drove in five runs.

Cavaliers will move ring ceremony to avoid conflict with World Series start

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 11: A general exterior image of the Quicken Loans arena which is next door to Progressive Field where the Chicago White Sox will take on the Cleveland Indians on July 11, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.

In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.

Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.

Indians could benefit from long rest before the World Series

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Danny Salazar #31 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on September 9, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.

Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.

Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.

The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.