It may be too late to make a difference, but the Cleveland Indians are getting healthy again. They’re just wondering what might have been had the injuries not piled up in the first place.
Victor Martinez will look to continue his hot hitting and Fausto Carmona will try for his fourth straight victory on Monday when the Indians open a four-game road set against the hapless Baltimore Orioles, losers of eight in a row.
Martinez had right elbow surgery in mid-June, costing Cleveland’s All-Star catcher 66 games. He’s been one of a number of key Indians to spend a good chunk of the season on the disabled list.
But Martinez came off the DL on Aug. 29, and he’s started to look like the player who hit .301 with 25 homers and 114 RBIs a season ago. His best game since his return came Sunday, when he drove in all three runs in a 3-1 win at Kansas City for Cleveland’s fourth victory in six games—and Cliff Lee’s 10th straight win.
Martinez drove in two in the first, getting a single after an 11-pitch at-bat.
“I was just fouling pitches and he was making good pitches and finally I got a good pitch to hit,” said Martinez, who’s hitting .417 (5-for-12) with a homer and six RBIs in his last four games.
He isn’t the only Indian getting healthy. Designated hitter Travis Hafner has been out since late May with a right shoulder strain, and he’s expected to be activated from the DL during this series with Baltimore (63-78).
The other positive development for the Indians (69-72) is the return of Carmona (8-5, 4.51 ERA), the talented 24-year-old who won 19 games last season in helping lead the team to the ALCS. Carmona missed two months with a hip strain before returning in late July, and is starting to pitch better after a rocky initial return.
Carmona is 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA in his last three starts, with his latest win coming Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. He pitched five shutout innings before giving up three runs and leaving with two outs in the sixth in a 9-3 victory.
The right-hander’s worst start over the last month came against Baltimore. He didn’t get a decision in Cleveland’s 13-8 comeback win on Aug. 11, but Carmona gave up seven runs in 6 1-3 innings.
The Orioles took Sunday off to let the Baltimore Ravens’ season opener take center stage locally, and the off day couldn’t have come at a better time. Baltimore has lost 13 of 14 overall and has allowed 76 runs during its current eight-game skid.
Another short outing from a starter doomed the Orioles on Saturday in a 5-1 loss to Oakland. Daniel Cabrera lasted three innings, giving up two runs and walking six. No Baltimore starter has lasted six innings in the team’s last 10 games.
“It’s been bad for everybody here,” Cabrera said. “Right now, we are not playing good baseball.”
Rookie Garrett Olson (8-7, 6.53) hasn’t been immune to the Orioles’ pitching woes. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in his last two starts, and gave up six runs—with five walks—over 5 2-3 innings in a 7-4 loss last Monday.
Olson didn’t get a decision in a 7-5 loss at Cleveland on Aug. 12, when he gave up five runs—four earned—in six innings.
The Orioles’ eight-game slide is their longest since they lost nine straight from Aug. 22-30, 2007.