Two more pinch-hit RBI for Duncan

Shelley Duncan is not having a very good season, but he’s quietly building a legendary résumé as a pinch hitter.

In six pinch-hit opportunities Duncan has one walk, four hits and seven RBI. In his brief Indians career he now has 12 pinch-hit RBI.

Over the last 25 seasons only Ben Broussard has more pinch-hit RBI, but that should come with a slight asterisk. Of Broussard’s 16 RBI, eight came on just two swings of the bat. In 2004 Broussard hit two pinch-hit grand slams. He later added another while with Seattle, tying the major-league record with three career pinch-hit grand slams.

The baseball-reference pinch-hit data goes back to 1950. During that span, Dale Mitchell is the Indians leader in pinch-hit RBI with 30.

Santana dropped out of cleanup spot

Carlos Santana was mercifully dropped in the lineup on Friday, the first time in his career he did not hit either 3rd or 4th.

There’s a decent chance he’ll climb back up later this season, but what if he doesn’t? Where would his miserably stint as the cleanup hitter rank in Indians history?

Over the past 90 seasons 132 different players have started at least 40 games in the four-hole in an individual year. Of those 132 only Moose Solters, who hit cleanup 44 times in 1938, posted a lower batting average than Santana.

Solters season was a confusing one. The previous year he hit .323 with 20 homers – just the 4th different Indian to reach the 20 home run plateau. I did some research to see if I could find the reason for Solters decline (perhaps an injury) but found only this mention from the Baseball Biography Project:

Solters had played well under manager Steve O’Neill in 1937, but new skipper Ossie Vitt was another story altogether in 1938. For whatever reason, perhaps his holdout, Vitt played Solters rather little. He went into a prolonged slump and by that time, Vitt couldn’t in all fairness to the team keep sending him out there day after day. He benched Solters. Moose recovered some in 1939, and was hitting .275 after his first 41 games. He was put on waivers and claimed by his old team, the Browns, for the $7,500 waiver price.

Price dominates Indians… again

There’s no shame in losing to the best, and that’s exactly what David Price was on Friday night.

Price struck out a career high 12 in seven shutout innings en route to a Rays 5-0 victory. He became just the 4th different pitcher to strike out at at least 12 batters without allowing a run against the Tribe in the past 35 seasons, joining former Indian Paul Abbott (1999 with Seattle), Roger Clemens (1992 and 1987) and Nolan Ryan (1978).

In the baseball-reference era (since 1919) the feat has only been accomplished 15 times. Other names include former Indian Gaylord Perry (1975 while with Texas) and Hall of Famer Red Ruffing (1932 while with the Yankees).

One Tomlin streak gets snapped

Josh Tomlin was finally roughed up a little bit, allowing four runs in the 2nd inning – more than he had allowed in any game this season. That inning alone snapped his quality start streak at nine.

Over the past 20 seasons only three former Cy Young winners have posted a streak as long as Tomlin’s while in a Tribe uniform. And in the baseball-reference era (since 1919) no Indian has ever started the season with a streak longer than nine games.

Tomlin did extend another streak however. In each of Tomlin’s 22 career starts he has pitched at least five innings – a streak which, since 1919, has been matched by only Daisuke Matsuzaka and Steve Rogers. Matsuzaka holds the MLB record at 28.

Tomlin goes for 7th win vs Rays

Josh Tomlin takes the hill tonight against the Rays in search of his 7th win. Over the past 30 seasons, only eight Tribe pitchers picked up at least seven wins in the team’s first 50 games.

Tomlin’s 2.41 ERA also ranks as the 5th lowest through 50 games over the past 30 seasons. Amazingly, of the four pitchers currently ahead of him on this list, only Cliff Lee was selected to the All-Star game.

If Tomlin wishes to earn a trip to the midsummer classic, tonight would be a golden opportunity to throw his hat into the ring. He’ll be going head-to-head with Rays ace David Price, who shut down the Tribe at The Jake earlier this year.

Rare feat by Red Sox at The Jake

The Red Sox collected 20 hits on Wednesday, a feat which isn’t too uncommon. However, all 20 hits came from just eight players, who each had at least two (Carl Crawford led the way with four).

It’s just the second time in Jacobs Field history that at least eight players from a visiting team had at least two hits apiece.

The other pounding came at the hands of the Brewers on June 14, 2001. Of the eight players that night, four were former Indians – (Richie Sexson, Jeromy Burnitz, Jose Hernandez, Tyler Houston) and another (Ronnie Belliard) would later join the Tribe. Charles Nagy received the brunt of the beatdown that day, allowing 10 hits and six runs in 5 innings of work.

Talbot roughed up in return

Mitch Talbot surrendered eight runs on 12 hits and two walks in his return on Wednesday afternoon against the Red Sox. He became just the 5th Indians starter in the last 90 seasons to allow at least 14 baserunners in three or fewer innings of work.

Unfortunately it’s the second time in less than year that we’ve seen such a meltdown. On August 22, 2010 Jeanmar Gomez was roughed up by the Tigers in a 8-1 defeat.

At least Talbot fell short of Johnny Miljus‘ 16 baserunners. On July 25, 1929 Miljus allowed 16 baserunners and 14 runs in just three innings of work against the Athletics.

Santana’s rough year continues

It’s been a tough spring for Carlos Santana, who is barely above the Mendoza line at the season’s quarter-pole.

His .207 batting average ranks among the worst in recent history through 45 games, but is compounded by the fact that he continues to bat cleanup.

The only Indian the last 50 seasons with at least 125 plate appearance in the four-hole through 45 games to post an average lower than Santana was Andre Thornton (.183 in 1986).

Tribe owns Boston

The Indians have won six straight home games against the Red Sox dating back to last season. They haven’t won seven straight since a 12-game stretch spanning the 1931-32 seasons – a streak which started at League Park.

A case could be made that this six-game streak is already more impressive than the one from ’31-32. 10 of the 12 games during the previous streak came against the ’32 Red Sox who lost 111 games.

Playoffs now a near certainty

Anything can happen in baseball. A seven-game lead on August 24 isn’t always safe, never mind May 24. However, as the Indians continue to win and extend their lead over the Tigers, a trip to the postseason becomes increasingly more likely.

The Tribe has now won at least 30 of their first 45 games for the eight time in the last 90 years. Six of the seven previous occurances led to eventual trips to the playoffs, including the 1948 World Series championship year.

The one year that did not result in a trip to the postseason was 1921, when the Tribe finished 94-60 – tied for the second-best record in the majors – but were edge out of the AL crown by the Yankees.