DETROIT -- The woes of the Indians' rotation have been so extreme on this road trip that the lineup's struggles have gone mostly unnoticed.
Part of the problem is that the starting pitching issues have forced the offense to fight from behind over the current seven-game losing streak. That has increased the pressure on the Tribe's bats, and the group has not responded well as a result.
Indians manager Manny Acta was not willing to blame the poor pitching for the subpar hitting.
"It doesn't help, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse," Acta said. "We could be losing games 10-7 or, whatever, 13-6. We're not swinging the bat well, either. When you're going through what we're going through right now, it takes more than one thing not to go right for you to lose five, six, seven games in a row."
Entering Saturday, Cleveland's rotation had posted a 12.40 ERA (45 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings) and the pitching staff as a whole had an 8.44 ERA (55 earned runs in 58 2/3 innings) over the seven-game losing streak. The Indians' offense, meanwhile, had hit just .197 with 19 runs scored and 41 runners left on base.
In the seven losses, the Indians were outscored, 38-10, through the first four innings. Another way to put it is that Cleveland has faced more than a four-run deficit on average by the fourth throughout this losing streak.
"Right now, we're not pitching and we're not swinging the bat well," Acta said. " When you're trailing by a ton of runs, obviously it changes the way you play the game a little bit. But it shouldn't be used as an excuse. Guys should be able to separate that, but it's hard to do."
Hafner back with Tribe, but not in starting lineup
DETROIT -- Travis Hafner rejoined the Indians for Saturday's game against the Tigers, but the veteran designated hitter was not back in the lineup. Tightness in his back kept Hafner on Cleveland's bench for his first day off baseball's paternity list.
"I've had a stiff back for the past few days," Hafner said. "So I'll go through my activities. I'll go hit in the cage and make sure it's fine."
Those comments came shortly before batting practice, when it was determined that Hafner's back issue was still problematic to keep him out of the fold for at least one more game. Manager Manny Acta instead gave the nod to Jose Lopez as the DH and sixth hitter in the Tribe's lineup.
Cleveland activated Hafner prior to Saturday's game and optioned utility man Vinny Rottino to Triple-A Columbus.
Acta noted that Hafner's injury flared up during Tuesday's loss in Kansas City. Hafner went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in that game before being removed for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. On Wednesday, Hafner was placed on the paternity list so he could be with his wife, Amy, for the birth of their second son.
"That was the reason why he came out of the game that day," Acta explained. "It had nothing to do with the score. His back stiffened up. It kind of worked perfect for us with the paternity list thing."
For the season, the 35-year-old Hafner is hitting .230 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs in 59 games for the Indians. Dating back to April 24, when his season average peaked at .357, Hafner has hit just .195 (30-for-154) with a .302 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage for Cleveland.
On a brighter note, Hafner said the birth of his son went well.
"Everything was great," he said with a proud smile. "So now I'll have two little ones running around."
The Hafners named their newly-arrived boy Trip John Hafner. Asked where the name "Trip" came from, the designated hitter cracked a grin.
"To commemorate the two triples I have this year," he quipped. "I had you going there for a second."
Masterson's wife donates cookie proceeds to charity
DETROIT -- Justin Masterson was trying to find something positive in the aftermath of his disastrous outing against the Tigers on Friday night. So the Indians sinkerballer unexpectedly mentioned his wife's cookie business in the middle of his interview.
Masterson's wife, Meryl, recently made a decision to donate all of her past and future profits to charity. The pitcher felt it was worth mentioning, and he elaborated on his wife's plans prior to Saturday's game in Detroit.
"She's trying to impact more lives than just the people tasting the cookies," Masterson said. "She just decided that she wanted to use all the profits to help feed children in the Dominican. We go down there every offseason and help out."
The Mastersons have helped out with the group Mission of Mercy in the D.R., and they plan on looking into contributing to other missions' organizations down the road. Masterson's wife started "Meryl Masterson's Home Plate Cookies" a few years ago and has seen her business grow, especially through online sales at merylscookies.com.
"One day she worked all day and produced about 600 cookies," Masterson said. "She was working hard to get an order out. Usually, it's about four or five dozen a day or something like that. It depends on the week. She makes all kinds."
Asked if he helps out, Masterson laughed.
"I help put the website together and design it and take care of all that," Masterson said. "Maybe every once in a while I'll tie some ribbons on the cookies and stuff like that. And I do test them. Quality control. My favorite is butterscotch oatmeal."
Quote to note
"No one was expecting this to happen. We're not pitching and we're not hitting. A week ago, we were on top of the world after the series we played against the Tigers. No one would envision that seven days later we wouldn't have won another ballgame."
--Indians manager Manny Acta, on Cleveland's seven-game losing streak
Indians manager Manny Acta moved second baseman Jason Kipnis into the leadoff spot on Friday and he responded by going 2-for-5 with a double. It marked Kipnis' first multi-hit game since July 23. Acta said Saturday that Kipnis will remain in the leadoff spot for the time being.
"We don't have a timetable for it," Acta said. "It's not like three, four or five days. If things stand the way they are right now, he'll stay there."
Entering Saturday, the Indians' pitching staff had an 8.44 ERA (55 earned runs in 58 2/3 innings) over the team's seven-game losing streak. Dating back to 1918, Cleveland has had 46 losing streaks of seven or more games. The only streak that included a higher ERA than the current slide was a seven-game skid from June 14-21, 1930 (9.00 ERA).
Indians catcher Carlos Santana headed into Saturday's tilt with the Tigers having reached base via a hit or walk in 25 of 27 games since July 1. Over his past 16 games, Santana had hit at a .308 (16-for-52) clip with six home runs, six doubles and 16 RBIs.
Left-hander Chris Seddon will be called up from Triple-A Columbus on Sunday to start against Detroit in the finale of this three-game set. Following Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Tigers, Cleveland designated reliever Jeremy Accardo for assignment to clear a spot on the roster for Seddon.