Notes: Holding off postseason prep
Indians mum on possible playoff rotations, resting veterans
CLEVELAND -- Focused on today, the Indians are paying no mind to tomorrow.They are virtual locks to lock up the division crown -- an event that could come as soon as Saturday night -- but they're nonetheless hesitant to publicly address postseason preparations. Wondering if Jake Westbrook or Paul Byrd will be the third starter in the division series? Or if C.C. Sabathia will skip his final regular-season start, tentatively scheduled for the last day of the regular season on Sept. 30? Keep wondering. Curious as to who the members of the Tribe think they stack up best against -- the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels? Remain curious. And even on short-term matters such as how manager Eric Wedge will juggle the lineup once the Indians clinch, lips are tight. That last matter is the most pertinent in the immediate sense. With the Indians in contention for the American League's best record and the postseason home-field advantage that comes with it, Wedge will have to balance putting his best team on the field against giving his regulars a bit of a rest before the grind of October. For now, Wedge is not even entertaining such thoughts. "I've not allowed myself to think about that," he said before Saturday's potential clincher. "I can't go down that road mentally. There's a time for that." One can hardly fault Wedge for refusing to speculate on post-clinch matters, as the mercurial baseball gods would frown upon such a thing. "It's about respect," Wedge said. "We always prepare, but right now we have to be focused on today. At some point, it becomes inevitable, but my mindset has to be on tonight." What else, then, was there to ask Wedge, other than for a comment on his policy on clinching celebrations? Some managers frown upon breaking out the bubbly when there's still more work to be done. "Celebration is part of it," Wedge said. "You work hard to accomplish something, and, when you do, you should celebrate." Here's the question: Sabathia and Fausto Carmona each have 18 wins. Can you name the last time the Indians had at least two pitchers with 18 victories? The 20 club: Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta are not ignorant to their own stats. They had a conversation before this homestand about their need to get over the 20-homer hump before the end of the season. Peralta hit his 20th during his two-homer barrage Monday night against the Tigers. Garko joined him Friday night with a sixth-inning solo shot that was immediately followed by Peralta's 21st. "Now, my goal is to get to 25," Garko said. "It's exciting [to get 20] in my first full year. Hopefully, it's something I can build on." The Indians now have five players with 20 or more -- Garko, Peralta, Travis Hafner (23), Victor Martinez (24) and Grady Sizemore (23). Casey Blake is two away at 18. Wedge didn't count on having so many guys contributing so much power to the lineup. Then again, he didn't count on a lot of things that have gone right for this club this year. "I knew we had people capable of that," Wedge said. "I never speculated on how it would play out. Needless to say, there have been a lot of surprises." Staying fresh: The Shoppach shuffle was in effect again Saturday night, as backup catcher Kelly Shoppach filled his usual role of catching Paul Byrd, with Martinez moving to first and Garko getting the night off. Wedge thinks the shuffle has helped Martinez avoid fatigue down the stretch this season. When Martinez batted .253 in July, some began to wonder if fatigue was a factor. But Martinez recovered to hit .306 in August. He was batting .270 in September entering Sunday. "This year, he's been better, in terms of fatigue," Wedge said of Martinez. "We've picked spots for him [to get days off], and we've included him in that process. We've put it all together and it's worked out pretty well. He's had a great year." Tribe tidbits: The Indians have posted 50 home wins for the 12th time in their 107-year history. The last was when they notched 51 in 1996. ... The announced crowd for Friday night's game was 36,016, though the ballgame was still a sellout. The Indians estimated that 7,000 additional fans were in attendance as part of the club's season-ticket exchange program. ... The Indians had a chance to move 30 games over .500 on Saturday night. They haven't been 30 games over .500 since the end of the 1999 season. ... Former Tribe manager Mike Hargrove, who resigned from the Mariners earlier this season, will be in attendance at Indians Fantasy Camp over the winter. The camp, which runs from Jan. 26-Feb. 2 in Winter Haven, Fla., gives attendees a chance to interact on and off the field with former players such as Bob Feller, Rick Manning, Mudcat Grant, Len Barker, Joe Charboneau, Brook Jacoby and Cory Snyder. Registration is being held online or by contacting Nate Janoso at (216) 420-HITS. The camp is for men and women age 30 and over. And the answer is: In 1956, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Herb Score each won 20 games for the Tribe. The last set of teammates in the Majors to win at least 18 games were the Astros' Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens in 2004. On deck: The Tribe wraps up the home half of its regular-season schedule with Sunday's series finale against the A's. Right-hander Westbrook (5-9, 4.41 ERA) will start opposite left-hander Dallas Braden (1-7, 6.41) in the 1:05 p.m. ET game.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.