CLEVELAND — Normally, televisions in the home clubhouse are tuned to ESPN following a game at Jacobs Field. Thursday night, TNT and the Cleveland Cavaliers were on.
Indians players and manager Eric Wedge have recognized the city’s hoops team, which is on the verge of making its first-ever appearance in the NBA finals, needing one more win over the Pistons.
“Obviously you take notice of your hometown clubs and you root for them,” Wedge said. “I think most of the guys caught the tail end of (Thursday’s) game, as I did. It was great for that game to finish off the way it did, and we’ll root for them (tonight).”
Indians ace C.C. Sabathia, a friend of Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden growing up in California, is probably the team’s biggest basketball fan. But plenty of others are keeping tabs on the Cavs and their superstar, LeBron James.
“I see what LeBron is doing,” said Dominican shortstop Jhonny Peralta. “It’s unbelievable.”
James offered up one of the most memorable individual performances in playoff history in a Game 5 double-overtime win at Detroit, scoring 48 points, which included 29 of Cleveland’s last 30.
Body by Jake
It was a rough rehab debut for Jake Westbrook (strained abdominal), who allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 11/3 innings for Triple-A Buffalo against Toledo on Friday. Westbrook was on a 50-pitch count or three-inning limit, throwing 47 pitches.
The right-hander is expected to make one more rehab appearance at the most before rejoining Cleveland’s rotation.
Travis Hafner entered 6-for-11 with a homer and seven RBIs in his last three games, meaning he might be emerging from a slump that saw him hit .228 for May.
“What you’re starting to see him do now is drive the ball more and get big hits for us at opportune times,” Wedge said. “Hopefully that’s a good sign.”
Sheff in a huff
Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield drew a three-game suspension for his actions in Detroit’s 11-5 loss to the Indians on Thursday.
Sheffield argued two strike calls from home plate umpire Greg Gibson in the fifth inning before breaking his bat on a ground out to second and throwing the splintered handle back in Gibson’s direction. He was ejected and had to be restrained by teammates and manager Jim Leyland.
Sheffield, who appealed the suspension and was in the lineup Friday, believes umpires are targeting him.
“Basically, they just want me to be on the field with handcuffs on and duct tape on my lips,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with it all year. I haven’t said one word to an umpire until (Thursday). I constantly walk up there and before I even swing the bat, there’s two strikes. It just hit a boiling point with me.”
Jared Goedert, who was en route to a dream season for Class A Lake County, has found things a bit more difficult since being promoted to advanced Single-A Kinston, where he was without a hit in three games through Thursday. Goedert hit .364 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 46 games for Lake County.
l Taiwan native Sung-Wei Tseng has experienced tough luck at Kinston, pitching well — 3.27 ERA in 10 starts — but failing to record a win against five losses. The 22-year-old right-hander was his country’s amateur pitcher of the year in 2006.
At 18-4, the Indians are off to the best home start in franchise history.
l The Indians finished May with a 19-11 record, the most wins in a month since they posted the same mark in September of 2005.
l Ernie Johnson, TNT’s NBA analyst, attended, preparing for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight in Cleveland. There was no sign of Charles Barkley, but Cavs general manager Danny Ferry took in the game from a dugout suite.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.