By CHRIS ASSENHEIMER
CLEVELAND â€” While the majority of the American League continued its dominance in interleague play, the Indians did not follow suit.
Cleveland, which entered the season with a favorable all-time record against National League opponents, went just 6-12 this year, losing their last interleague series Sunday with a 9-5 defeat in the series finale with Cincinnati.
Needless to say, Indians manager Eric Wedge, who has never been a proponent of interleague play, is not sorry to see it pass.
â€œYou lose a bat when you go there and they gain a bat when they come here,â€ Wedge said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t take a rocket scientist to see that the American League is at a disadvantage.â€
It certainly looked that way for the Indians, who despite receiving a favorable schedule draw against sub-par NL opponents, still did not fare well.
Cleveland went 2-6 against third-place San Francisco and last-place Cincinnati on the recent homestand, posting a combined 2-10 record against the Rockies (0-3), Reds (1-5) and Giants (1-2) â€” clubs that entered Sunday a combined 34 games under .500.
â€œI think it just kind of depends on where your team is at,â€ Indians starter Aaron Laffey said of the teamâ€™s dismal interleague effort. â€œWe were kind of down and it just continued into interleague play. Weâ€™re just kind of in a rut.â€
The AL, winners of seven of the last 10 World Series, entered the final day of interleague play sporting a 141-96 record against NL opponents.
The Indiansâ€™ all-time interleague record stands at 108-103.
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UNFRIENDLY FIRE: It was another productive series for new Indian killer and former disgruntled Cleveland second baseman Brandon Phillips, who went 5-for-13 with an RBI in three games. Phillips batted .391 (9-for-23) with a home run and seven RBI in six games against the Indians this year. Heâ€™s hit .348 (24-for-69) with four homers and 14 RBI against Cleveland since leaving town prior to 2006. Phillips could have been named the Ohio Lottery Ohio Cup MVP, but that went to Reds outfielder Adam Dunn, who hit five homers and drove in 10 runs, batting .300 (6-for-20) in six games. Not known as a defensive asset, Dunn made a pair of nice catches in left field in the series finale Sunday and added an assist, throwing out Casey Blake trying to stretch a double in the sixth.
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BOWLED OVER: Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach showed some courage when he stood in to take a hit from the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Dunn on a play at the plate in the second inning. Dunn tried to score from first on a two-out double from Javier Valentin, plowing into Shoppach, who made the tag and held onto the ball for the final out.Shoppach, a short (6-foot) but stocky (220 pounds) figure, downplayed the contact. â€œHe didnâ€™t get me that good,â€ he said. â€œI had enough time to spin out. I was able to keep moving and avoid some of the force. It was a clean baseball play. Thereâ€™s no hard feelings.â€ Dunn patted Shoppach on the back as he made his way to the dugout after the collision. â€œI was able to ask him if thatâ€™s all he had,â€ Shoppach said.
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NEXT UP: With interleague play behind them, the Indians turn their attention to the Central Division, visiting three division clubs on a 10-game road trip to Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit. Cleveland opens a three-game series with the White Sox tonight at 8:11, Jeremy Sowers (0-3, 5.97) starting against RHP Gavin Floyd (8-4, 3.39). Cliff Lee (11-1, 2.34) is the scheduled starter Tuesday (8:11), while the Sox counter with LHP John Danks (5-4, 2.62). C.C. Sabathia goes in the series finale Wednesday (8:11) against RHP Jose Contreras (7-6, 3.99). The Indians are 3-6 against the AL Central leaders.
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MINOR DETAIL: The Indiansâ€™ top pick in the June amateur draft, shortstop Lonnie Chisenhall, hit his first professional homer Saturday in Class A Mahoning Valleyâ€™s 8-6, 11-inning victory over Batavia. Chisenhall, the 29th overall selection, entered Sunday batting .209 (9-for-43) with a double, two triples and three RBIs in 10 games for the Scrappers.
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ROUNDINâ€™ THIRD: Slumping regulars Ryan Garko and Franklin Gutierrez were on the bench for the finale with Cincinnati, both mired in hitless skids â€” Gutierrez (0-for-21) and Garko (0-for-16). Gutierrez (.227) has two hits in his last 30 at-bats with seven of his 18 RBI on the year coming on two swings against Chicagoâ€™s Mark Buehrle. Garko (.242) is 4-for-34 over his last nine games. â€¦The Indians drew 111,424 fans to the three-game series with the Reds, the third consecutive weekend that the team has drawn over 100,000 fans.
Assenheimer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-329-7137.