The series: Visited the Yankees (win, win, loss) and hosted the Blue Jays (win, win, win, loss).
The big story: The team put together a strong week behind a dominant rotation, but the daily lineups wore the strange hue of a series of odd decisions — moves that occasionally excited but more often puzzled, or even smelt of desperation.
Newly promoted Ben Francisco was used in all seven games, including five starts, performing similarly to (and not demonstrably better than) the man he replaced, who was traded to Pittsburgh for (we can guess) something in between a bag of balls and a case of bats. Slight-hitting Jason Tyner was also promoted, adding to our already overstocked cupboard of weak-hitting outfielders, or perhaps more accurately subtracting by addition. Even more strange than Tyner's promotion was his being given a start immediately upon his arrival. We have four better-hitting outfielders — five if you count Blake — most of whom are also good or great defenders, so what was the point of this?
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it, unless it was to send the other players a message, something along the lines of: "You guys suck so bad, we might as well be playing Jason freakin' Tyner. That's right, you guys, it's that bad. Our hitting is as pathetic as the goddam Twins now."
And then there's Andy Marte, long buried at the end of the bench, who shockingly got three starts this week — and yet already has fewer at-bats this season (22) than Ben Francisco (25), who has been on the roster only 11 days compared to Marte's 43. Some guys just have to play, apparently, and some guys don't. (See full screed.) It's a good thing we don't have to understand these decisions, because who could?
In other news: Cliff Lee ascended to a new level of other-worldly Chuck Norrissitude, leading a rotation that allowed just nine runs in seven starts, including five games allowing one run or zero. Five! Five starts allowing one run or zero! This week alone! Since April 17, Indians starters have allowed just 35 runs in 23 games, good for a 2.07 ERA. Sabathia even managed to climb out of the ERA cellar, having needed four excellent starts to get his ERA down to 6.55 — still awful, but good enough to surrender the "lead" to Nate Robertson at 6.64, of our alleged rivals the Detroit Tigers. (Happily, the bottom five also includes two other Tigers, Justin Verlander at 6.43 and Kenny Rogers at 5.82.)
Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a stunning series of defensive gems in a two-game stint at shortstop, but he made history when he returned to second base last night, turning just the 14th unassisted triple-play in the history of major league baseball. Rather than save the ball for himself or for the Hall of Fame, AbaCab casually flipped the ball to some fans sitting behind the Indians dugout as he jogged in from the field — just another routine play, I guess.
Post of the week: Okay, maybe let's start using that recommend-until-it's-green thingy. And no, I'm not eligible, thank you.
Who fed it: Cliff Lee pitched 16 scoreless innings, starting a new streak perhaps to rival his previous 27-inning tear. Carmona and Laffey provided another 16 scoreless innings, Carmona's in a complete game shutout, the quartet of Perez-Lewis-Julio- Breslow contributed eight more, and man, that is just a lot of scoreless innings. Julio has been pounding on the door of the Circle of Trust, having retired 22 batters since the last time he allowed a run (April 16) while allowing just two singles and two walks. Breslow meanwhile was fighting just to have his existence recognized, appearing in just his second game in the past four weeks. Casey Blake had the best offensive line of the week with a 912 OPS, though that was more of a reflection on the team's hitting than anything else. Sizemore hit another two home runs, matching his pair from last week, and has a 1063 OPS over his last dozen games. And, well, that's about it for the hitters. How did we ever score 12 runs in that one game? Absolute Best: Lee. Relative Best: Lee.
Who ate it: Garko was the worst-hitting starter this week by far, with just two singles, a double and the obligatory HBP to show for 19 trips to the plate. He bears an atrocious .140/.219/.175 line over his last 16 games, with as many strikeouts, double-plays and sac-flys (14) as times on base (also 14). I can't tell if we're supposed to consider Francisco a bench guy or not, but if we assume that he isn't one, then the bench (Carroll, Shoppach, Marte and Tyner) was unbelievably awful this week — 4 for 43 awful, .093/.152/.093 awful — often frustrating Wedge's attempts to shuffle the lineup and give extra days off to his struggling sluggers, i.e., half the roster. You know who else sucks? Rafael Betancourt, whose ERA is something around 9 since being anointed the closer, I can't even stand to look it up. Absolute Worst: Garko. Relative Worst: Betancourt.
The other guys. false alarms and open questions: Will return next week; I kind of got sidetracked by the whole Marte thing.