The Indians Sunday lost a game but gained a further appreciation for their new utility infielder. Jose Lopez was the only offensive highlight in the Indians' 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Lopez had three of the Indians' seven hits in the game. He was 3-for-4, with two doubles and two RBI. Lopez is in the lineup as a replacement for injured 3B Jack Hannahan, who is out with soreness in his lower back.
Lopez is making the most of his opportunity. In the first five games of the Indians' eight-game homestand, Lopez is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with one home run, two doubles and five RBI.
Although Hannahan is the starter at third base, Lopez has had the more substantial career to this point. The 28-year-old right-handed hitter was a starting infielder for several years in Seattle, being selected to the American League All-Star team in 2006.
For the Mariners in 2009, Lopez belted 25 home runs and had 96 RBI. The Indians brought him to training camp this year on a minor league contract, and he won a spot on the opening day roster.
Lopez was demoted briefly to Class AAA Columbus a few weeks ago, but he was brought back to Cleveland on May 12. Since then, he is hitting .357 and has brought some production to the lower third of the Indians' lineup.
The emergence of Lopez has allowed the Indians the luxury of not having to rush Hannahan back into the lineup.
NOTES, QUOTESPerez rips Cleveland fans
--RH closer Chris Perez ripped Indians fans on Saturday for their lack of support. Although the Indians are in first place, they are last in the majors in average home attendance at 15,518. "It's a slap in the face that we're last in attendance," said Perez. "People say the fans will come when we start winning. Well, we're winning."
--INF Jose Lopez continues his productive play as a sub for injured 3B Jack Hannahan. Sunday, Lopez had three of the Indians' seven hits in their 5-3 loss to Miami. Through the first five games of their current eight-game homestand, Lopez is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with one home run, two doubles and five RBI. "He's done a very good job of picking us up while Jack's out. He has value to us," said manager Manny Acta.
--RH reliever Vinnie Pestano has had at least one strikeout in 21 consecutive relief appearances, tying Paul Shuey's club record. Pestano's streak dates to Sept. 25, 2011. Shuey's streak ran from August 1999 to April 2000.
--SS Asdrubal Cabrera's home run off Anibal Sanchez in the fourth inning Saturday came on an 0-2 pitch. Cabrera has 48 career home runs, but Saturday's was only the second that came on an 0-2 pitch.
--RHP Jeanmar Gomez has pitched 16 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. That streak goes back to May 9. "He doesn't let things get to him," said Acta. "I think coming into the season knowing he was our No.5 starter helped him, because he knew if he had one or two bad ones, he was still going to stay in the rotation."
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Number of Miami Marlins that C Carlos Santana threw out trying to steal second base on May 18. It marked the first time in six years that three Marlins had been thrown out trying steal in one game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Oakland's out-drawing us. That's embarrassing." -- RH closer Chris Perez on the Indians, who are last in the majors in average home attendance despite being in first place.
ROSTER REPORTMEDICAL WATCH:
--3B Jack Hannahan (lower back stiffness) did not play May 14-20. An MRI revealed mild inflammation, and he is day-to-day. Manager Manny Acta said Hannahan is making progress, but stopped short of saying when Hannahan would return.
--RHP Josh Tomlin (intersection syndrome, right wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list May 12 retroactive to May 8. He did some long tossing at 75 feet on May 18. The next step will be a bullpen session.
--OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April and took live batting practice May 16, but manager Manny Acta said he was unlikely to be ready June 3, the first day he'll be eligible to be activated. There is no timetable for Sizemore's return.
--LH reliever Rafael Perez (strained left lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26.
--RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.