TORONTO: Michael Brantley has hit in every lineup spot but two, eighth and ninth. Saturday he batted sixth, something he has done 15 times.
Manager Manny Acta has penciled Brantley’s name in the fifth spot 28 times, the leadoff position 22 times and the seventh spot 10 times. Brantley has batted second or fourth for three games each and once batted third.
“I feel Brantley can hit in any spot,” Acta said. “It just depends on the makeup of the club. Wherever he hits, he’ll give you a quality at-bats. That’s for sure.”
Brantley is riding a 12-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .447 (21-for-47) with four doubles, three home runs, eight runs and 10 RBI.
“He’s been our savior, basically, with the injury to Grady [Sizemore] and [Carlos] Santana not hitting the way we expected,” Acta said. “He’s a good hitter. He’s been a good hitter his whole life and he’s getting better. He’s one of the toughest guys in the whole league to strike out.”
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH — Through seven innings Friday night, Justin Masterson had thrown a 103-pitch shutout. Why not leave him in for the eighth?
“He was already over 100 pitches, and it was a hot and humid night,” Acta said. “It doesn’t mean in another situation I wouldn’t do something different. But there was no reason to push the envelope.”
What Acta did not say is that his setup man, Vinnie Pestano, and his closer, Chris Perez, had not pitched since Sunday and needed work. Also, if Acta had tried to get Masterson a shutout, he probably would have had to push him to at least 125 pitches.
TOO MUCH TURF — Acta is concerned that all seven games of the Tribe’s trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay will be played on artificial surfaces.
“This is a tough trip for us,” he said. “It’s seven days in a row on artificial turf, so we have to monitor these guys.”
FARM FACTS — Jeanmar Gomez (2-1, 1.64 ERA) delivered a two-hit shutout, striking out seven and walking two in Columbus’ 2-0 win over Indianapolis in Class AAA. Vinny Rottino homered. … Bo Greenwell had three hits and three RBI, and Tony Wolters had three hits, but Carolina fell to Frederick 9-8 in Class A. Giovanny Urshela hit his seventh homer and had four RBI. … Mason Radeke gave up one run and three hits, striking out eight in five innings, as Lake County beat Wisconsin 7-6 in Class A. Jordan Smith had three hits and three RBI, and Pat Tolentino homered and doubled with two RBI… Tyler Naquin had three hits and Charlie Valerio, two doubles and three RBI as Mahoning Valley beat Lowell 7-4 in Class A.
— Sheldon Ocker