Asdrubal Cabrera, the American League’s best shortstop since day one this season, delivered two homers as part of a 5-for-5, five-RBI game as the Indians routed the Reds 12-4 and completed a three-game sweep Sunday.
Cabrera has nine homers, ranking him second only to Troy Tulowitzki among major league shortstops. Jhonny Peralta is third with seven. Cabrera leads all shortstops with 32 RBI and 32 runs scored.
Of course, it’s not likely to get him a start over Derek Jeter in the All-Star Game, but barring a big slump, he will make the team for the first time.
The Indians also got a nice game from Michael Brantley, who went 3-for-5 with a double, a steal and three runs scored as Grady Sizemore’s replacement in the leadoff spot. Primarily valued for his speed, on-base skills and defense, he’s been a very pleasant surprise in contributing three homers and 13 RBI in 18 games this month.
The Reds received homers from Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in the contest, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome an ugly outing from Edinson Volquez, who should have been pulled from the rotation earlier this month. Volquez, the team’s Opening Day starter, gave up seven runs — six earned — in 2 2/3 innings to raise his ERA to 6.35. He walked four today, giving him 38 walks in 51 innings for the season.
With the victory, the Indians moved to 29-15. They’re not only leading the AL Central by 7 1/2 games, but they’re 4 1/2 games up on the Yankees and Rays for the American League’s best record.
The Reds have lost five in a row to fall to 25-22. It’s their longest losing streak of this season, and it matches their longest from 2010.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.