CLEVELAND – Indians notes from July 29
The 1988 Nintendo game “RBI Baseball” has become the favorite mode of clubhouse entertainment in Cleveland, but there’s much more at stake when the real players take the field. “It’s baseball, it’s not a video game out there,” veteran outfielder Trot Nixon said after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Minnesota at Jacobs Field. “I’m sure people think it is. But the American League is a tough league, period, no matter who it is. You’re not going to be successful in every opportunity you have. But we have played well this year and we’ll continue to play well.” The Indians haven’t played well for a while now, which is tempting fans to begin throwing their controllers -- or whatever object is handy -- against the wall. Consider: - The Indians are 9-13 since July 3 and 8-9 since the All-Star break. - They have lost five of their past seven games, and five of their past seven series. - They have lost three consecutive home series after losing just two of the first 16. - They are 12-13 in July after posting winning records in April, May and June. “You’ve got to worry about each games as it comes,” Nixon said. “You can’t worry about an entire month. “It’d be easy to be a team that plays .600 or .700 baseball every month, but Major League Baseball is not like that. Every game matters, but this is a game where you need to have confidence in yourself. We can play with a certain swagger. These guys know they’re good, and they are very good.” There are a variety of reasons for the team’s recent struggles, but two of the most visible are the struggles of some of the starting pitchers and an inconsistent offense. In the past 12 games, the Indians have scored seven or more runs four times -- and three runs or fewer seven times. Cleanup hitter Travis Hafner is batting .258 -- five points better than Nixon and seven points better than second baseman Josh Barfield. Today, at least, the Indians have a day off. “I think it’s great timing, after we’ve played 17 days in a row,” Manager Eric Wedge said. “It’ll be nice to get away from it for a little bit,” Barfield said. Coming Up The Indians host Texas for three games beginning Tuesday. The Fultz Watch LHP Aaron Fultz (rib cage) began a minor-league rehabilitation assignment Sunday, pitching a scoreless inning for Double-A Akron against Altoona. Fultz retired the side in order, striking out one. He will pitch in at least one more minor-league game before being activated from the disabled list. A Swing and a Miss The Indians and Twins combined to strike out 25 times Sunday. That is the most by two American League teams this season. The Florida Marlins and New York Mets combined for 27 strikeouts on April 19. C.C. Sabathia and Matt Garza both fanned 11. The last time two AL starters reached double figures in the same game was Sept. 26 of last year when Sabathia (11) and the Indians blanked Javier Vazquez (12) and the White Sox, 6-0. The Big Left-Hander Sabathia’s 3.58 ERA is the lowest through July of any year in his career. His 11 strikeouts Sunday equaled a career high. On the Farm Three Single-A Kinston pitchers combined for a one-hitter as the Indians shut out Wilmington, 4-0. The game began Friday, but was delayed by weather, suspended, then completed Saturday. Steven Wright, Ryan Edell and Matt Meyer each pitched three innings, with Edell (10-5) earning the win and Meyer his third save. Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or email@example.com.