CLEVELAND — Where would the Indians be without Victor Martinez? Probably not first place.
With their designated run producer Travis Hafner struggling to find his stroke through Cleveland’s first 55 games, Martinez has more than picked up the slack for the guy he hits behind in the order, leading the team with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs.
Martinez, who leads American League catchers in virtually every offensive category, was one of the few hitters doing anything in a 9-2 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a homer and both the Indians’ RBIs. It was the 11th time in 13 games that Martinez has driven in at least one run.
“He’s been a great player for us,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “You know he’s a great hitter, but you don’t expect what he’s done offensively. With Hafner a little bit off, Victor’s really picked us up.”
The switch-hitting Martinez, who is batting .316 in 47 games overall, is doing it at both sides of the plate. He’s hitting .333
(39-for-117) with eight homers and 35 RBIs from the left side and .286 (20-for-70) with four homers and 15 RBIs from the right.
Gotta be there
A number of Indians players, including ace C.C. Sabathia, raced over to Quicken Loans Arena after the completion of their game Saturday to catch the end of the Cavaliers’ Eastern Conference-clinching victory over the Pistons.
The Indians paid tribute to the Cavs’ first trip to the NBA finals with a congratulatory message on the Jacobs Field jumbotron, while a few fans held up signs that chided the Pistons for leaving the playoff trail.
The Indians are off today, beginning a
three-game series with the Royals at Jacobs Field on Tuesday (7:05 p.m.).
Sabathia (8-1, 3.78) opens the set, opposing left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (4-5, 4.97).
Paul Byrd (6-1, 3.57) and Fausto Carmona (6-1, 3.29) are the scheduled starters Wednesday (7:05) and Thursday (12:05), while KC counters with right-hander Brian Bannister (1-3, 3.89) and lefty Odalis Perez (2-5, 5.61).
End of the line?
With reliever Fernando Rodney set to leave the disabled list on Tuesday, the Tigers gave former Indian Jose Mesa his outright release.
Mesa, who was 1-1 with a 12.34 ERA in 16 games for Detroit, hinted at retirement.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t do my job,” said the 40-year-old right-hander. “If this is it, I’m happy with (my career).”
Mesa saved 320 games for seven different teams in a 16-year career. He saved 104 for Cleveland from 1994-97, including an American League-leading 46 in ‘95, but is best remembered for blowing a save in Game 7 of the Indians’ World Series loss to the Marlins in ‘97.
Veteran infielder Luis Rivas had three of Triple-A Buffalo’s seven hits in a 3-2 victory over Toledo on Saturday. Rivas, the former Twins starting second baseman, was hitting .297 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 45 games for the Bisons through Saturday.
l Chuck Lofgren (5-4, 4.03), one of Cleveland’s top pitching prospects, got the win in a Double-A Akron’s 5-1 decision over Trenton on Saturday, allowing a run on six hits, while striking out six in five innings.
Sunday’s game was delayed 17 minutes by rain with Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta batting with two outs in the ninth inning. When play resumed Tigers reliever Jason Grilli needed one pitch to retire Peralta on a fielder’s choice grounder to short that completed the game.
l The Indians are averaging 24,666 fans in
22 games at Jacobs Field. They have drawn at least 30,000 fans to their last eight home games.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137