Damon's bat starting to awaken for Indians
Slowly but surely, Johnny Damon is starting to round into baseball shape.
There was more evidence Friday night, as Damon's two-run home run in the seventh inning was one of the big blows in the Indians' 6-2 win over St. Louis.
It has been a long haul for Damon, who joined the Indians on April 17 after a brief stay with the club's extended spring program in Arizona, where he tried to get up to speed after signing a free agent contract following the start of the season. Cleveland manager Manny Acta said it would take Damon some time to get his timing at the plate, and Acta was right.
On May 26, Damon was hitting .153. In his past eight games, however, Damon is hitting .292 with two home runs and seven RBI.
Damon is still hitting just .188, and he continues to get removed from games in the late innings for defense when the Indians are leading. His trial in the leadoff spot was very brief. He now hits in the lower third of the order.
As long as the Indians remain in the race in the AL Central, they probably can afford to continue to wait for Damon to get closer to what they hoped he'd contribute when they signed him. Originally, it appeared that Damon might be the bridge to the return of injured Grady Sizemore, but Sizemore's return from back surgery performed March 1 has been slower than expected.
So Damon continues to get most of the at-bats in left field, where he is used in a semi-platoon with right-handed-hitting Shelley Duncan. At least over the last week, though, Damon has begun to show some signs of life offensively.
Interleague play agrees with Tomlin
--RHP Josh Tomlin pitched seven solid innings, allowing two runs in the Indians' 6-2 win over St. Louis on Friday. "Josh was fantastic. He kept them off balance all day," manager Manny Acta said. In five career interleague starts, Tomlin is 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA. As a hitter, Tomlin is 3-for-5 in his career in interleague play.
--OF Michael Brantley had two more hits Friday to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, three shy of his career high. During his streak, Brantley is hitting .361 (22-for-61) with one home run and 15 RBI. He has raised his average from .255 to .284 in that span.
--C Carlos Santana hasn't hit much since coming off the disabled list June 5. Santana was sidelined just over a week due to a mild concussion. Since his return, he is 2-for-17 (.118).
--OF Johnny Damon's home run Friday was his second in the last eight games, as he has begun to heat up at the plate. On May 26, Damon was hitting .153, but in eight games since then, he's hitting .292 with two home runs and seven RBI.
--2B Jason Kipnis was 2-for-5 Friday in St. Louis as he continues his blistering hitting on the road. Kipnis his hitting .353 on the road but just .225 at Progressive Field.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15-10 -- The Indians' road record this season. They are 16-16 at home, but they have only six home games left in the month of June.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We better be better against right-handers because we scuffle against left-handers." -- Manager Manny Acta, whose team is 26-13 vs. right-handed starting pitchers and 5-13 vs. left-handers.
--DH Travis Hafner (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24. He had surgery May 31 to repair a frayed meniscus, and he will be out until late June or early July.
--3B Jack Hannahan (left calf strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 27. He had been out May 14-23 due to lower back stiffness.
--LHP Rafael Perez (strained left lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 26.
--OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April and took live batting practice May 16. His rehab was slowed again in early June, and there was no timetable for his return.
--RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.