CLEVELAND: Could advancing age have something to do with Derek Lowe’s two-month slump?
Since turning 39 on June 1, he has had many more bad starts than good ones, not that his birthday would signal a physical decline. But the grind of four months of baseball can have a wearing effect on any player, let alone a pitcher who is almost 40.
“We’re humans,” manager Manny Acta said Thursday. “When we get older, we’re not as effective as when we were 27 or 28. But I think this is about making adjustments.
“If you walk more batters than you strike out, you’re not going to be successful. None of you guys mentioned his age the first two months of the season.”
In April and May, Lowe compiled a 3.25 ERA, walked an average of 2.7 batters per nine innings and induced an average of 22.3 ground balls per nine innings, which is important because he relies on a sinker.
Since June 1, Lowe has posted a 7.11 ERA, walked an average of four batters per nine innings and is inducing ground balls at the rate of 18.8 per nine innings.
PEREZ UPDATE — Rafael Perez (strained lat) got the day off Thursday, and his next assignment is yet to be determined.
“We’ll get together and see what the next step is,” Acta said. “Whether he goes somewhere and pitches back-to-back games or we put him in the middle of an inning. When he gets here, he’s going to have to get up in the middle of an inning [with runners on base].”
TRIVIA PURSUIT — The Tribe scored three runs in each of its past four games for the fourth time in team history, dating to 1918, going into Thursday night’s action. The franchise record is six games.
FIRST OUTING – Roberto Hernandez made his first rehab start at Lake County Thursday night and gave up three runs and six hits in five innings. He walked none and threw 66 pitches, 46 strikes.
FARM FACTS — Cord Phelps hit his 11th home run of the season and Ezequiel Carrera hit his sixth in Columbus’ 5-3 loss to Toledo in the first game of a doubleheader in Class AAA. In the second game, Phelps had three hits, including a triple, and two RBI, and Tim Fedroff had three hits, including a double, and two RBI as the Clippers earned an 11-10 win. Fedroff raised his average to .371 with five hits in the twin bill. … Mason Radeke (5-5, 3.80 ERA) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings, but Lake County dropped an 8-1 decision to West Michigan in Class A. … Dorssys Paulino had four hits and Tyler Booth had three plus three RBI in the Arizona Indians’ 9-4 loss to the Royals.
— Sheldon Ocker