June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Don’t count out Tribe regardless of deficit

CLEVELAND — Indians manager Eric Wedge has no explanation for his team’s propensity for comeback victories this season, mostly because he doesn’t think there is one. “I think it’s just a product of baseball,” said Wedge, whose Indians entered Friday with 23 comeback wins, which was tied with Philadelphia for the major league lead in the category. “So many things you can’t account for trendwise in this game.”

The trend went the opposite way last year for Cleveland, which finished six games under .500 at 78-84 and in fourth place in the American League Central Division, 18 games behind first-place Minnesota.

The Indians generated just 27 come-from-behind wins all of last season, entering Friday with 11 victories in games they were tied or trailed after seven innings, compared to 12 of those wins last year.

“One thing I can say is that we’ve found different ways to win ballgames all year long,” Wedge said.

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ON THE MEND: David Dellucci was at the park before the game, a day after having surgery on his right hamstring — a procedure that is expected to sideline the outfielder for eight weeks. Dellucci, who signed a 3-year, $11.5 million contract with the Indians this offseason, is hitting .234 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games.

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OUR ROUSE: Wedge isn’t concerned with the offensive struggles of utility infielder Mike Rouse, who entered Friday batting just .118 (6-for-51) with a double and two RBI in 29 games. “Defense is definitely the thing there, and he’s done a good job,” Wedge said. “It’s probably one of the toughest spots on the team to do well offensively. Anything you get offensively is obviously a bonus.” It is Rouse’s first experience as a bench player after spending the first six years of his professional career as a starter in the minors. “This is the first time I’ve done this, so it’s tough to gauge,” said Rouse, who has one hit in his last 26 at-bats. “I feel like I’m contributing to the team. I like to win, and when we win, I feel like I’m a part of it.”

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MILLER TIME: Adam Miller pitched two scoreless innings in relief during Triple-A Buffalo’s 6-2 victory over Scranton on Thursday — his second straight scoreless appearance since leaving the disabled list with a strained tendon in his middle finger. Miller, a candidate for the Indians’ bullpen at some point this season, is 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 41 strikeouts in nine games (47 innings) for the Bisons.

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YANKS ARE COMING: The second game of an upcoming three-game series with the Yankees on Aug. 11 is sold out, with limited tickets available to the series opener and the finale. During the weekend series, the Indians will hold a tribute to Hall of Famer Larry Doby, the first African-American player in the American League.

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MINOR DETAILS: Buffalo first baseman Ryan Mulhern (.310, 11 HR, 44 RBI) and infielder Luis Rivas (.262, 8 HR, 33 RBI) were named to the International League All-Star team. … This year’s top draft choice, third baseman Beau Mills, hit a grand slam and went 2-for-5 in his debut for Single-A Lake County on Thursday. Mills, the 13th overall pick in the draft, hit just .179 (5-for-28) with one RBI in his first eight professional games for Class A Mahoning Valley prior to the promotion.

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ROUNDIN’ THIRD: Ben Francisco was in the lineup in left field Friday, making the first start of his big league career. He got his first big league hit in his second at-bat, a line-drive single to right in the fourth inning off Devil Rays starter Edwin Jackson. … The Indians, who entered Friday tied with the Brewers with the fourth-best record in baseball, employ the seventh-youngest roster in the majors (an average age of 28.27). The Marlins are the youngest at 27.55, while the Yankees and Mets are the oldest at 32.18. … Browns kicker Phil Dawson was in attendance with his two sons and his father-in-law, taking in batting practice and leaving with a bag full of giveaways for his kids.

Assenheimer may be reached at 440-329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.