CLEVELAND — The lineup card is back with another collection of random thoughts, statistics and musings now that the Indians have completed their first homestand and embarked on a seven-game road trip against division rivals Chicago and Detroit:
LEADING OFF — The Bourn Countdown
Outfielder Michael Bourn was in the clubhouse after Wednesday’s doubleheader and said that he would play in Akron’s games against Bowie on Thursday and Friday followed by an off day Saturday. As long as Bourn continues to feel healthy, that would indicate that he would be activated off the disabled list on Sunday or Monday.
Whenever Bourn does get activated off the DL, the interesting dilemma becomes who gets sent down to Columbus? At the start of the season, the conventional wisdom was that Nyjer Morgan’s time her would be temporary, but he has played extremely well in his seven starts. He has a .520 on-base percentage and is 2 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
Lonnie Chisenhall has also gotten off to a strong start as he has had a hit, including three doubles, in the five games in which he has played. Elliot Johnson is 0 for 9 but does offer a lot of position versatility.
The most logical candidate could be in the bullpen. C.C. Lee was called up on Wednesday after Vinnie Pestano’s struggles and his stay here could be temporary. The rest of the bullpen has been performing well.
SECOND — Pestano’s last chance?
Pestano admitted last Saturday that he was pitching for his livelihood. Here’s hoping his final outing in Cleveland wasn’t on Tuesday, when he allowed three runs (one earned) in two-thirds of an inning of an 8-6 win over the Padres but his velocity continues to be down and is reverting back to some of the habits that caused him to be sent down last season.
THIRD — A little more like it
After having only one quality start in the first six games, the Indians rotation’ had one in all three games against the Padres and posted a 1.83 ERA. The trio of Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Trevor Bauer also had 23 strikeouts against two walks.
CLEANUP — Kipnis loves coming home
Jason Kipnis, who grew up in Northbook, comes into the White Sox series with a hit in 18 of the 19 games he has played at U.S. Cellular Field.
Kipnis, who has a seven-game hitting streak at the park, is hitting .420 (29 of 69) with four home runs, six doubles and 20 RBI. He was 1 for 9 in the San Diego series but the hit was a two-run homer to give the Tribe a 2-0 win in Wednesday’s first game of a doubleheader.
FIFTH — Here’s hoping it can last
No one is naÃ¯ve to think that David Murphy will remain a .363 hitter at Progressive Field, but he does see the ball well here and does a good job of hitting it to all parts of the field.
On Sunday, Murphy had a well-placed single up the left-field line that dropped between the left fielder and third baseman and on Tuesday his three-run homer was to right field. By going 6 for 11 in the past three games, the right fielder raised his season average from .143 to .320.
SIXTH — Centralizing
Beginning in Chicago, 11 of the Tribe’s next 14 games are in the division. They were 44-32 in the division last year but are 1-2 this season after the opening series at Progressive Field against the Twins.
SEVENTH — Looking ahead
If Detroit’s current rotation holds, it would be Anibal Sanchez (Tues.), Rick Porcello (Wed.) and Justin Verlander (Thur.) as the probable starters against the Indians. At least they don’t get Verlander and Max Scherzer in the same series. The Tigers’ have been going with a four-man rotation to start the season. Meanwhile the Indians will have Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco as the probables.
EIGHTH — Name that tune
As much as I didn’t want to like it at first, John Axford coming out to "Working Man" in save situations is a good choice. The way Tribe relievers have performed in the past, the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" might have been prophetic at times.
Also, as Twitter follower @clothessorter noted, "Working Man" was Rush’s first hit after it was put it into heavy rotation by WMMS in 1974.
NINTH — Thoughts and prayers …
To the family of umpire John Hirschbeck. Michael Hirschbeck, 27, passed away on Tuesday in Poland, Ohio. Michael Hirschbeck had adrenoleukodystrophy, which is an inherited condition that affects the nervous system. Hirschbeck’s oldest son, John Drew, was 8 when he passed away in 1993 due to the same condition.
It has been a tough six months for the families of umpires who are from the Mahoning Valley. Wally Bell passed away in October. When Twins manager got his 1,000th win on Saturday, there was a photo of Bell ejecting Gardenhire on the front of a T-shirt. Bell and Gardenhire were close friends.