Indians hit hard by injury bug as Santana, Miller require surgery

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The Indians already have Matt LaPorta as a question mark for Opening Day after he required hip surgery in October. Now two more of their top youngsters have required procedures that leave their statuses for 2010 in question.
Carlos Santana, one of the game’s very best prospects, suffered a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Given the usual two-month recovery timeframe, he’ll still have plenty of time to get ready for spring training. However, it often takes considerably longer for a player to regain his power after suffering a broken hamate. Under the circumstances, it’d be no surprise and no cause for alarm if Santana’s homer total is cut in half in Triple-A next season. He finished with 23 homers in Double-A last year.
Adam Miller’s future is considerably murkier. The Indians’ former No. 1 pitching prospect needed another tendon reconstruction operation for the middle finger of his right hand. It’s the fourth surgery he’s had on the finger, and it’s unclear when he might pitch again.
Since going 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA in Double-A in 2006, Miller has been limited to 65 1/3 innings in 2007 and 28 2/3 innings in 2008. He didn’t pitch last year while recovering from a previous finger surgery. The Indians may well non-tender him Saturday as a result of the latest setback. He could be re-signed to a minor league deal, but he’s no longer worth a 40-man roster spot.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.