CLEVELAND: The Indians held their heads high as they scattered around the home clubhouse at Progressive Field after the victory Sunday, heading into the All-Star break following a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals that propelled the club confidently into the second half riding a four-game winning streak.
The streak raised their total first-half wins to 51 — a mark that might have felt impossible to obtain after an early swoon that left the team mired in a 4-18 skid — including a rough eight-game losing streak.
“When you go through stuff like that, you learn something,” first baseman Nick Swisher said. “You learn, then you gotta make adjustments. That’s what this game’s all about.”
How much have the Indians learned in order to turn around their fortunes over the final month of the first half? Consider that they are just 17 victories away from the club’s 2012 total 68 wins.
And while the Tribe’s personnel are well aware of the 67 games remaining in the second half, only 19 of those games are against teams with winning records.
Although the Tribe has had its share of struggles in owning a 3-9 mark against the division-rival Detroit Tigers (whom they play two more times for a total of seven games down the stretch), the Indians’ focus moving forward should be trained on taking care of business against the teams they should beat.
“We’re supposed to beat teams [with losing records],” Swisher said. “We’re going to go up against teams that are better than us and we’re gonna lose some of those games. But the games we’re supposed to win, we’ve got to win those games.”
ROTATION SET — The Indians set their starting rotation for their first series of the second half Sunday, moving back ace Justin Masterson, as expected, in case he pitches for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at the Mets’ Citi Field.
The switch means left-hander Scott Kazmir will face Minnesota right-hander Mike Pelfrey when the team returns to action Friday.
For Saturday’s game, Indians young right-hander Corey Kluber will face Twins righty Kevin Correia. Sunday’s 2:10 p.m. series wrapup features Masterson against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson.
FUTURE IS NOW — Not long after rookie pitcher C.C. Lee made his major-league debut for the Tribe in the fifth inning, shortstop Francisco Lindor hit into a double play in the seventh inning of the MLB Futures Game held in New York in advance of Tuesday’s big league All-Star Game. Lee (from Taiwan) and Lindor (Puerto Rico) were both named to the World Team for the prospect-laden game. Lee ended up having to pass on participating due to his big-league call-up. Friday night, Lindor learned he’s been promoted to Double-A Akron.
ROSTER MOVES — The Indians made roster moves involving two players before Sunday’s game. Right-handed pitcher Blake Wood was removed from his 30-day rehab assignment with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, activated from the 60-day disabled list and then optioned to Columbus. The Tribe also outrighted veteran minor-league catcher Omir Santos to the Clippers.
— Stephanie Storm