Peralta Inside the Park Home Run

Thanks to an unlocked bullpen gate, Jhonny Peralta rounded the bases with his first career inside the park home run on Sunday afternoon. He became just the 5th Indian to hit an inside the park homer in Jacobs Field – all five of which have come since 2000.

This is an odd stretch of five inside the park home runs in an 11-year span for the Tribe. Prior to Enrique Wilson‘s in 2000, the Indians hadn’t hit one in their home ballpark since Mel Hall rounded the bases against the A’s in 1988.

Jayson Nix continues home run tear

In his last 6 games Jayson Nix is 9-23 (.391 BA) with five HR and seven RBI. He’s gone deep in each of his last three games.

This is the same player who was batting .163 with one HR and five RBI in 24 games with the White Sox before the Tribe picked him up off the waiver wire.

Not only is his streak unlikely, it’s historical. Over the last 50 seasons, only one other Tribe second baseman has homered in three straight game. Amazingly, it’s not Alomar, Baerga, Gordon, Avila or even Bernazard. Nope, its Ronnie Belliard.

In fact, in the entire “baseball-reference searching era” (1920-39 and 1952-pres) only one other second baseman joins Belliard and Nix: the legendary Odell “Bad News” Hale in 1933.

Masterson is Mr. Inconsistent

What does inconsistency look like?

Well on the pitching mound it looks like Justin Masterson. But in graphical form, it looks like this:

These are Masterson’s starts charted by earned runs allowed (click the chart for a larger image). As you can see, he is a model of inconsistency. He’s had some impressive performance (a shutout vs Boston, a near complete game against Toronto). But he just can’t maintain his success.

If his recent trend continues, expect him to get roughed up a bit tonight by the Rangers.

Jayson Nix goes deep twice

Jayson Nix belted two home runs on Monday, becoming the 7th Indians second baseman in the last 50 seasons with a multi-home run game and the first since Robbie Alomar in 2001. Each of the last 12 instances, all of which occurred between 1991 and 2001, came from Alomar or Carlos Baerga. The last to do so other than those two was Tony Bernazard in 1987.

The nine year drought between multi-home run games by an Indians second baseman had been the longest current drought for a position other than pitcher. Earlier this season, Austin Kearns also snapped a drought for left field which dated back to Matt Lawton in 2004.

Carmona is Tribe’s lone All-Star

For the second straight season the Indians will be sending just one representative to the All-Star Game. This year it’s Fausto Carmona, making his first appearance.

According to the Indians website (and considering they also list Jody Gerut as a Rookie of the Year winner, should be taken with a grain of salt), it’s the 21st time in franchise history they’ve had just one representative at the game.

A few other notes on Carmona’s selection…

  • It’s also the 6th time since 2002 that they’ve had only one selection, following a 10-year stretch during which they had multiple selections every year.
  • He joins CC Sabathia (2003) and Bert Blyleven (1985) as the only Indians starting pitchers to be their lone All-Star selections since 1980.
  • He joins Sabathia, Jake Westbrook (2004) and Chuck Finley (2000) as the only starts to make the All-Star team since 2000.

Again, these notes are very unofficial. The Indians don’t keep the best historical records. At some point I’ll use other sources to verify an official list of Tribe All-Star selections.

Walk-offs vs former Indians

On Monday Matt LaPorta singled up the middle off A’s reliever (and former Indian) Craig Breslow to give the Indians the walk-off victory.

That got me thinking. How often have the Indians had a walk-off against a former Indian?

I suspected it hadn’t happened often, so naturally I was surprised to go back to 2007 and see that it had happened three times in that year alone.

It’s happened 11 times in the Jacobs Field era, and seven times since 2004.

Three of the hits have been home runs, the most memorable of which came in 1995 when Manny Ramirez‘s walk-off prompted Dennis Eckersley to yell “WOW” as he walked off the field.

5-game win streak snapped by shutout

What better way to bring momentum to a screeching halt than with a shutout?

The Tribe’s longest win streak of the season was snapped on Friday by Gio Gonzalez and the Oakland A’s. It was the 6th time this season they’ve been shutout.

It was also 5th time since 2000 that they’ve snapped a five-game win streak with a shutout, which sounds like a shockingly high number.

What makes it even more disappointing is the fact that it was Gio Gonzalez that shut the Tribe down. No disrespect to Gonzalez, but he doesn’t exactly fit with the list of names to the right. He’s having a fine season, but has struggled on the road and the Indians failed to take advantage of that weakness by jumping on him early. For the second straight game they went hit-less through the first three innings.

Justin Masterson throwing more strikes

Justin Masterson‘s Indians career got off to a painfully slow start, as he lost 12 of his first 13 decisions in a Tribe uniform.

But Masterson has turned things around as of late. Since June 1, Masterson 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA. Nothing special, but signficantly better than his 0-5/5.87 line through the season’s first two months.

The key to Masterson’s success has been his improved efficiency. Due to control problems, he was averaging over 4 pitches per batter through the first two months. As a result, he pitched into the 7th inning just twice.

As his control has improved, so have the results. The chart below shows his season average for pitches per batters faced. (click on the chart for a larger image). As you can see, there’s a clear downward trend since the start of June, which coincides with his improved performance.

On Wednesday, his second-best performance of the season, Masterson averaged just 3.21 pitches per batter faced. 65 percent of plate appearances ended after three pitches or less, well above the league average of 45 percent.

How is he retiring batters faster? By throwing more strikes early in the count. On Wednesday, at least two of his first three pitches in an at-bat were strikes 65 percent of the time, above the league average of 60 percent.

It sounds like a simply formula to follow: more strikes = more outs. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been that easy for Masterson. Hopefully he continues this recent trend

LaPorta homers in 3 straight

Matt LaPorta found his swing in Columbus. Or at least his home run swing.

Since being recalled on on June 27, LaPorta is 5-17 in five games. Three of his five hits have been home runs – one each in his last three games.

A three-game home run streak is nothing unusual, Jhonny Peralta, Mark DeRosa and Travis Hafner each had one last year. But a streak in which the only hits are home runs is a little more rare.

Over the last 50 seasons only seven different Indians, not including LaPorta, had a home run streak of at least three games in which their only hits were homers. LaPorta’s streak is the first since Hafner in 2005. The king of the all-or-nothing streak is, of course, Jim Thome.

Squeeze play is back in Cleveland

On Monday night Jayson Nix executed a perfect squeeze play with Travis Hafner on 3rd to give the Indians a 2-1 lead, which they would hold to for the win. It was the second successful squeeze for the Indians this season.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine exactly when a squeeze has been executed by going through box scores, but on baseball-reference’s play index we can come pretty close. Using their “event finder” we can find sacrifice bunts with a runner on 3rd base. Technically, a squeeze play can result in a hit, if the bunt is placed in such a way that the official scorer rules that the runner would have been safe regardless of what the fielder did with the ball. However, that is certainly a rare occurrence.

Using what we can on baseball reference, the Indians two “RBI sacrifice bunts with a runner on 3rd” are their most in a single season since 1993. In fact, Luis Valbuena‘s earlier this season was the first since Omar Vizquel in 2003.

When compiling the list on the right, two things immediately jumped out at me:

1) Albert Belle bunted?! Sure enough, on July 9, 1994 in the Metrodome, Jim Deshaies walked Kenny Lofton who stole 2nd and then 3rd. After another walk was issued to Carlos Baerga, Belle laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Lofton from 3rd. It was the 4th and final sac bunt of Belle’s career.

2) Thomas Howard not only had three in one season, but two in ONE GAME! On June 16, 1992 at Cleveland Stadium, Howard officially went 0-3 with 2 RBI. In the 5th inning, following a Lofton triple, Howard laid down a squeeze to give the Indians a 3-2 lead over the Orioles. Then in the 7th inning, with the Tribe up 4-2, Howard laid down ANOTHER squeeze, this time scoring Mark Lewis.