Tribe Week in Review: Brantley carries momentum into first All-Star Game
Cleveland Indians' Michael Brantley hits an RBI-double off New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Cleveland. Jason Kipnis scored on the play. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
CLEVELAND — As he takes part in his first All-Star Game, Michael Brantley is looking to take it all in and enjoy it as much as he can.
"I’m going to be at every event, play the game and enjoy having family and friends there," said Brantley over the weekend. "I think it is going to be phenomenal. I’m glad I’m going to be there to experience it."
Going into the All-Star Break, Brantley is sixth in the AL in batting average (.322) and tied for tenth in RBI with 63. He’s also tied for first in outfield assists with 10. During the Tribe’s recent homestand, he was 17 of 45 with nine RBI.
The biggest surprise with Brantley’s game has been his power numbers. He leads the Tribe with 15 home runs and had three during the homestand. Besides homers, he also has the team lead in doubles, RBI, hits and runs scored.
"I haven’t changed my approach at all. t’s all about putting the barrel on the ball consistently. I don’t have a real reason why," Brantley said after Saturday’s game where he had a solo shot during the eighth inning. "I’ve said it before, I’m not a home run hitter. I put good swings on the ball and whatever happens after that is out of my control."
Another key to Brantley’s development might be security. He signed a four-year, $25 million. Brantley’s deal was completed right before the start of spring training while Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis agreed to extensions right before the start of the regular season.
Said Brantley about the extension and role it has played: "It helps, now it is about winning baseball games. There are no other distractions. It is about playing with teammates and being a good teammate."
It’s also about being a role model. The transcript from Brantley’s news conference was handed out to the Indians minor-league players as examples of how to handle themselves.
General manager Chris Antonetti said it has been fun to watch Brantley’s continued development along with his consistency.
Added Antonetti about the extension and how it has paid off so far: "You’re always hopeful that would be the case. Been his continued maturation as a player. We believe so strongly in the player and putting in the work to improve. Been fun to see how that has translated."
The Tribe go into the All-Star Break back at .500 after going 4-3 this past week. It is their second straight winning week and they are 8-4 in July.
Chris Dickerson, who was acquired from the Pirates last Monday, reached base in all five games he played and was 8 for 17 with four runs scored and an RBI.
Trevor Bauer was 1-0 in his two starts and has pitched 13 straight scoreless innings. He struck out a career-high 10 in going 6 2/3 scoreless innings on Sunday against the White Sox.
Nick Swisher was 9 for 30 with three home runs and seven RBI. After hitting .122 in June, Swisher has reached base in eight of his last nine games.
Roberto Perez homered in his Major League debut last Thursday against the Yankees.
David Murphy was 4 for 24 but did have a home run.
Austin Adams gave up three runs in one-third of an inning in his Major League debut.
Justin Masterson allowed five earned runs in two innings last Monday against the Yankees and was placed on the disabled list the following day due to right knee inflammation.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
During the second inning of last Sunday’s game against the White Sox, Mike Aviles caught a Gordon Beckham fly ball just inside the left-field line for the first out in the inning. Aviles’ momentum carried him into the wall in foul territory but he quickly saw that Conor Gillaspie was jogging back to first. Instead of just lobbing it into shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Aviles fired a perfect strike to first baseman Carlos Santana and got Gillaspie by half a step.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Cleveland at Detroit
First pitch: 7:07 p.m. Friday; 1:07 and 7:07 p.m. Saturday; 1:07 p.m. Sunday
Of note: Season series is tied 4-4. Saturday’s first game of the day-night doubleheader is a makeup from the April 15 postponement.