8/11/2013 5:45 P.M. ET
Streaky Tribe believes playoff chances are intact
By Jordan Bastian and Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- On the first day of the month, the Indians wrapped up a perfect seven-game homestand with a stress-free victory against the White Sox. After a brief road trip to Miami, the Tribe returned to Progressive Field for seven more games, a stretch that has been decidedly less cheerful.
That win over the White Sox -- the Tribe's 11th straight in its own yard -- gave Cleveland a 37-19 record at home, meaning the club had equaled its home win total from all of last season by Aug. 1. With four straight losses to Detroit and two more to the Angels, the Indians are still looking to take their 38th contest of the season at Progressive Field.
During their six-game losing streak, the Indians fell eight games behind the Tigers in the American League Central and four games out of an AL Wild Card slot.
"I hate it, dude. I hate it," first baseman Nick Swisher said Sunday. "It's the worst, because you feel like you're right on the doorstep in some games, and it just doesn't turn out in your favor. We've just got to find a way to win, man. That's it. That's what it boils down to. Regardless of where we are -- home, road whatever, man -- we got a good team in here. We've got to find a way to win."
The six-game slide the Indians brought into Sunday's finale against the Angels is their second-longest skid of the year. They've also had two five-game losing streaks and one that lasted eight games.
But it's also a team that is also capable of stringing together winning streaks of equal lengths. The win against the White Sox capped an eight-game winning streak, and before that, the Tribe had built one six-game winning stretch and two more of five games.
"This team has been pretty streaky," outfielder Ryan Raburn said. "We'll get in those losing streaks and then we'll get in a good winning streak. We got a couple more big winning streaks ahead of us, and hopefully it starts today."
Not much has gone right for the Indians this week. Since the homestand began, they're batting .200 with a .562 OPS and .180 average with runners in scoring position. The pitchers, meanwhile, have a 5.19 ERA in that span.
"We just haven't been playing together real good, haven't gotten the hits, haven't pitched," Raburn said. "But you do kind of go through those streaks. It seems like our streaks have lasted a little longer than other teams'. But when we get on hot streaks, they last a little longer than everybody else's, too. We've just got to keep battling. We still got a long ways to go."
Including Sunday's series finale against the Angels, the Tribe has 45 games remaining on its schedule. Swisher and Raburn both shot down the idea that the team's playoff chances are slipping away.
As Swisher put it, "This ain't over."
Asdrubal ejected in second for arguing strike calls
CLEVELAND -- Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera didn't take his second-inning strikeout very well on Sunday, and following an exchange of words with home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza, Cabrera was ejected for the second time in his career.
After he was thrown out, Cabrera continued to voice his displeasure, and he tossed his bat and helmet toward the batter's box as he walked back to the dugout. Manager Terry Francona then came out to speak with Carapazza, but did not say enough to get ejected.
"I said, 'Did he say something out of [line]?' He said, 'No,'" Francona said. "He said he just argued strikes and balls. I just thought maybe that was a younger umpire maybe trying to show his authority a little bit. I thought he got a little aggressive there. I don't think he needed to throw him out."
In his first and only at-bat against Angels right-hander Jerome Williams, Cabrera swung through a 2-2 cutter for the third strike. Both of the previous two strikes were called by Carapazza, and Francona said Cabrera took issue with the low curveball that went for strike two.
Cabrera has animatedly made his frustrations at the plate known in recent games, mainly by occasionally spiking his helmet following poor plate appearances. Since the beginning of July, he's hitting .193 with seven doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs.
At the time of Cabrera's ejection, the Indians trailed, 4-0. Mike Aviles took over for Cabrera, playing shortstop and hitting cleanup. Aviles' two-run homer in the sixth helped lift Cleveland to a 6-5 win that halted a six-game losing streak.
Gomes' throws help Tribe improve against baserunners
CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes has cut down baserunners so well this season that an errant throw makes one wonder if something is wrong with the young catcher.
Such was the case in the Tribe's 7-2 loss to the Angels on Saturday, when Gomes threw wildly beyond second base for an uncharacteristic error. Erick Aybar was credited with a stolen base of second and advanced easily to third as the ball rifled up the middle by Gomes bounced into center field.
"He said he took his time to throw that ball and that jacked him up," Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. said Sunday morning. "The guy took a decent jump, but [Gomes] had enough time. He kind of slowed himself down and you can't do that. You have to do it the same way every time."
With the rare exception, Gomes has been consistent in that regard for the Tribe this year.
Entering Sunday's game against Los Angeles, Gomes paced the American League with a 52 percent caught-stealing rate, having thrown out 13 runners in 25 attempts in his 51 games played. That success rate is double the league average of 26 percent.
"His feet are the key. His footwork is unbelievable," said Alomar, who spent 20 seasons as a catcher in the big leagues. "He's been consistent all year. I know he's not playing the amount of games like a starting catcher, but he's been impressive. He works at it. I love when guys ask questions, and he's been a guy that's done that all the time."
Alomar noted that Gomes' throws to second base have routinely been timed at 1.85 seconds or faster since Spring Training. The bench coach noted that the only difference between the preseason and now is that Gomes has reduced the amount of movement on the ball. Alomar said the catcher had some sink on his throws early in the year.
"His throws are firm and accurate now," Alomar said.
Last season, the Indians allowed an American League-high 140 stolen bases, which was the third-highest total in baseball. Gomes -- acquired from the Blue Jays in an offseason trade -- has helped Cleveland improve in that area this season. Entering Sunday, the Tribe had yielded 60 stolen bases, which was the seventh-best mark in the AL.
"He's always had arm strength," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His transfer is just boom, boom. From his glove to when he lets it go is so quick. And he's so straight to second. It's a rarity. You can work on stuff like that, which they do, and Sandy's great with it, but he has it. I don't know if you can just give that to somebody."
• Cleveland has run into a tough string of starting pitchers over the past nine games, facing Jose Fernandez, Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in that span. Dating back to Aug. 2, that group has combined to go 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 62 innings against Cleveland.
• Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, who is on the disabled list with a sprained middle finger on his throwing hand, will remain with the club throughout its upcoming nine-game road trip through Minnesota, Oakland and Anaheim. There is still no firm timetable for Kluber's return to throwing.
• With two hits in Saturday's loss, Gomes improved his average to .514 (18-for-35) over his past 11 games, entering Sunday. In that span, Gomes had two homers, six extra-base hits and eight RBIs, and raised his average to .310 from .256.
• The Indians entered this homestand with a 37-19 record at Progressive Field, having won four straight series in front of their local crowd. After six straight losses this week, Cleveland has now dropped consecutive series at home for the first time since last September.
Quote to note
"We have to just grind through. If we're frustrated -- and we've seen some lineouts -- we have to grind through it. That's the only way to do it. If you line out twice, try to hit another one."
-- Francona, on his team's recent offensive struggles
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.