July 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
71°F

Indians notes: Tribe pretty average over first half of regular season

CLEVELAND — As the 47-47 record indicates, it’s been a mediocre first half of the season for the Indians, who enter the All-Star break in third place — 7 1/2 games behind Central Division leader Detroit.

“I wish our record was better,” manager Terry Francona said. “I do think the way we’ve played, now the next couple months, if we play good baseball, it will be very exciting. For everything that’s happened and some of the inconsistencies in our play, it’s in front of us now. But we do need to do some things better.”

The Indians rank seventh in the American League with a .255 team batting average, while ranking fifth with 417 runs (4.4 per game). The rotation’s 4.49 ERA ranks 13th among 15 AL teams, while the bullpen, a bright spot throughout the first half, ranks third with a 3.08 ERA.

Cleveland’s defense has been atrocious, ranking last in the majors with a .979 fielding percentage, and first with 76 errors.

But to simply break even, the Indians have had to overcome injuries and performance issues from key players that could have taken them out of the playoff race before the second half began.

They’ve needed to be resilient to stay afloat, a characteristic Cleveland displayed often last season in its first playoff year since 2007.

“It’s pretty close as far as the record goes, but every year is different,” Francona said. “I don’t know if you can count on winning 10 in a row at the end (like we did last year). I just think you try to learn from last year.

“We’re situated where we are. We’re kind of in the middle of the pack, and if we play good, we can climb back into some games that are really relevant at the end.”

Here’s a look at the Indians’ individual first-half leaders:

Batting average: Lonnie Chisenhall (.328), Michael Brantley (.322).

Home runs: Brantley (15), Carlos Santana (14).

RBIs: Brantley (63), David Murphy (44).

Hits: Brantley (113), Asdrubal Cabrera (88).

Runs: Brantley (63), Cabrera (50).

Doubles: Brantley (22), Cabrera (22).

Triples: Michael Bourn (7), Cabrera (2).

Stolen bases: Jason Kipnis (13), Cabrera (10).

Errors: Cabrera (14), Chisenhall (13).

Wins: Corey Kluber (9), Josh Tomlin (5).

ERA: Cody Allen (2.16), Bryan Shaw (2.70).

Saves: Allen (12), John Axford (9).

Looking ahead

The Indians announced their first two starting pitchers after the All-Star break.

Sunday’s starter Trevor Bauer (3-4, 3.84 ERA) will open the second half Friday against Detroit at Comerica Park. Kluber (9-6, 3.01) will follow, starting the first game of a doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday.

The Indians have yet to name a pitcher for the second game of the doubleheader, but are expected to recall right-hander Danny Salazar (1-4, 5.53) from Triple-A Columbus to make a spot start as the 26th roster addition.

If that happens, Tomlin (5-6, 4.21) would likely start the series finale Sunday in Detroit, while left-hander T.J. House (1-2, 4.40) would be recalled from Columbus to rejoin the rotation July 21 at Minnesota.

That would leave right-hander Zach McAllister (3-5, 5.63) to start July 22 against the Twins, with right-hander Justin Masterson (right knee inflammation) eligible to leave the disabled list the following day.

Next up

The Indians are off for the All-Star break through Thursday, starting the second half with 11 straight road games and a four-game series at Detroit (Friday through Sunday).

Cleveland’s top prospect, Double-A Akron shortstop Francisco Lindor, started for the World Team in the Futures Game at Minnesota’s Target Field on Sunday night.

The Home Run Derby is tonight at 8 p.m., with the All-Star Game on Tuesday (8 p.m.), when Brantley will serve as the Indians’ lone representative.

Roundin’ third

  • The Indians have hit 16 homers in July, tying them with the Angels and Astros for the most in the majors this month.
  • Bauer is 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in seven starts at Progressive Field this season.
  • Cleveland is 15-13 in one-run games.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.