CLEVELAND: Sunday was one of the better days for the bottom three in the Indians’ batting order.
Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Lou Marson combined to go 4-for-10 with a double, three runs scored and one RBI.
But too often in recent weeks, manager Manny Acta has cited a lack of production by the bottom third of the lineup for rallies that have fizzled or have never gotten off the ground.
In the past 14 games, the bottom three in the order are hitting .241 with nine RBI and 12 runs. Over the same span, the rest of the lineup has driven in 42 runs and scored 38.
Theoretically, each third of the lineup should score or drive in the same number of runs, except in baseball, the more productive hitters bat closer to the top of the order.
Acta has shuffled his lineup all season to give more punch to the bottom of the order, but that’s easier said than done.
In addition to Damon, Kotchman and Marson – who does not play every day – the 7, 8 and 9 spots have included Aaron Cunningham, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jack Hannahan, Shelley Duncan and even starting pitchers for the six games the Tribe played in National League ballparks, where the designated hitter is banned.
In addition, because of injuries, Luke Carlin and Juan Diaz – who have spent most of the season in Columbus and Akron – also filled in temporarily.
Whether the composition of the roster changes before the July 31 trading deadline is an open question. Moreover, Travis Hafner might be activated from the disabled list in three weeks and Grady Sizemore might rejoin the team at some point, though nobody has the least idea when.
At any rate, Acta must play the cards he has been dealt.
“This is our team,” he said. “These are our guys.”