Created on Friday, 02 August 2013 Written by JIM INGRAHAM jingraham@MorningJournal.com @jitribeinsider,writer
CLEVELAND — Now THAT’S a homestand. A big boy homestand.
Cleveland Indians mascot Slider watches as Cleveland Indians right fielder Ryan Raburn is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a home run against the Chicago White Sox in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Thursday, August 1, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
The Indians Thursday afternoon put the finishing touches on a seven-game, seven-day slam dance in which they ran the table on the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox.
Ryan Raburn continued his super hero season by belting two more home runs, driving in four runs and driving the bus to the Indians’ eighth victory in a row, a 6-1 dunking of the reeling Chicago White Sox.
The win pulled the Indians to within two games of the idle Tigers in the Central Division race.
The Indians went 7-0 on the homestand that concluded Thursday. The Tribe out-scored their opponents 40-20 in the seven games, which featured off-the-charts work by the Indians’ starting rotation.
Tribe starters had a 2.57 ERA during the homestand, which included back-to-back shutouts. The Indians hit .300 as a team in the homestand, and won three of the seven games on walkoff home runs, two of those coming in the Chicago series.
“We can improve. We’re still making some mistakes,” Tribe manager and professional party pooper Terry Francona said. “But we’re resilient. Our guys play, and they keep on playing.”
Especially at home.
The Indians have won 11 games in a row at home. Since April 30 they are 35-13 at Progressive Field, the best home record in the majors in that span. For the season overall they are 37-19 at home, the best home record in the American League.
“Credit them. They just outplayed us,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Today is probably magnified because of what happened earlier in the series.”
What happened in the series was Raburn being Raburn. During the homestand the Tribe’s super sub hit .389 (7-for-18) with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs.
“The story today was Ryan Raburn doing his thing. He was awesome,” said Justin Masterson, who pitched 6 2/3 innings to improve his record to 13-7.
Raburn blasted a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Indians a 3-0 lead. His infield single capped a two-run rally in the fifth that extended the lead to 5-0, and his solo homer leading off the seventh inning put some icing on the cake.
In just 173 at-bats this season Raburn is hitting .283 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs. If you project his homers and RBI totals over a 500 at-bat season you get 38 homers and 107 RBIs.
Raburn won’t get 500 at-bats, however, because he’s a bench player, probably the best bench player on arguably the best bench — Raburn, Jason Giambi, Mike Aviles, and Yan Gomes — in the American League.
“We’ve got four guys on our bench that can come in and help the club at any time,” Raburn said. “If you’re going to be a contender you need that. We had it in Detroit.”
Ah yes, Detroit.
Raburn was a key bench player for the Tigers in 2011 when they made it as far as the American League championship season. Last year, however, was a nightmare. He hit just .171 and was released by the Tigers following the season.
“He got off to a horrendous start (in 2012) and never recovered,” Francona said. “That happens to a lot of players. It’s the reason we got him.”
Raburn signed a minor league contract with the Indians, won a spot on the roster during spring training, and has again become one of the best bench players in the American League.
“Last year really took a toll on me, but I knew I could still play. I knew the talent was still there,” he said.
Raburn, Drew Stubbs and Carlos Santana each had three hits to account for nine of the Indians’ 14 hits on Thursday as the Indians beat White Sox ace Chris Sale for the third time this season.
Sale (6-11) lasted just five innings, giving up five runs on 10 hits. He was out-pitched by his fellow all-star Masterson, who held the White Sox scoreless on one hit through the first five innings. The only run allowed by Masterson was a home run by Alejandro De Aza leading off the sixth inning.
“Masterson is probably pitching as well as anyone in the American League right now,” Ventura said.
And the Indians are playing as well as anyone in the American League.