Notes: Uphill battle for division

Notes: Uphill battle for division

CLEVELAND -- The road ahead for the Indians looks to be littered with roadblocks, and the Tribe needs to find a way to sidestep most of this trouble if it wants to get back into the AL Central race.

But manager Eric Wedge is less concerned about the roadblocks ahead and more concerned about how his Indians play. Wedge keeps talking about the "baby steps" the club has taken, and those steps have produced some success.

"We've done a much better job the last two or three weeks, in terms of winning series," he said. "But we still have a long way to go. We still need to be much more consistent offensively.

"These guys know that, so, hopefully, we can even work off that last inning."

Wedge is referring to the ninth inning Sunday in Cincinnati, when the Tribe put up a six spot against the Reds' bullpen to break open what had been a 3-2 ballgame.

Yet that outburst of scoring was just one game, nothing more. And the Tribe needs many more games like that to gain ground on the first-place White Sox, who are 12 games ahead of the Indians in the division.

Between the Sox and the Indians, however, are the Twins and the Tigers, so the Tribe will need to do some winning and hope that all the other teams knock each other out.

In Wedge's mind, that's not as important as what the Indians do, and he's counting on their play improving. What the Sox do can wait for another day.

"We've got enough here in our own backyard that we need to take care of," said Wedge when asked about the White Sox and their solid play. "We've got to do a better job of getting ourselves going."

On the watch: Major League Baseball has sent a warning to Wedge and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to tone down the tensions between the two teams.

Gardenhire, in fact, got a written letter from the league. Wedge said he was told to expect a similar letter, though it had not arrived when he talked to the media Monday afternoon.

Before the ballgame, Wedge talked to Richie Garcia, head supervisor of umpires, about the tensions between the two rivals. Garcia reiterated the league's position.

"He hopes we don't have any problems," said Wedge, pausing. "I hope so, too."

Here's the question: What former Ohio State Buckeye did the Indians get from the Reds in the Sean Casey trade? (See answer below)

Quotable: "I played against great talent in the Major Leagues, and I played against great talent in the Negro Leagues. I didn't see a lot of difference." -- Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Doby

Did you know: Eddie Murray, hitting coach for the Indians, is one of five "Rookie of the Year" winners to collect 3,000 hits in their careers. The other four are: Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Rod Carew and Cal Ripken Jr.

By the numbers: In their last five games, the Indians are hitting .303 (53-for-175) with 29 runs scored. ... On offense, the Indians rank last in the American League with a .242 batting average and last in the league in runs scored (168). They are 12th in on-base percentage (.308) and 10th in slugging percentage (.400). ... Last year, the Tribe was fifth in all of Major League Baseball with 858 runs scored. ... After 42 games last season, the Indians had scored 228 runs. ... In 14 games since May 7, the Indians bullpen has a 1.41 ERA. ... The Indians are 10-0 when they score six or more runs and 16-6 when scoring four or more runs. The team has scored three runs or fewer in 20 of its 42 games.

Tribe tidbits: Indians fans can buy tickets for home games at The Jake through the Internet, at the Jacobs Field box office, at the seven Cleveland Indians Team Shops in Northeast Ohio and through the phone center (1-866-48-TRIBE). ... Right-hander Dan Denham has been named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. Pitching for Double-A Akron, he went 2-0 with 1.80 ERA in his two starts. Denham, the Tribe's first-round pick in 2001, is 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA in eight starts. ... Ryan Ludwick's shoulder is still sore after banging into the wall making a play in Cincinnati on Sunday, and Wedge lists him as day to day. ... The Indians had received no word on Coco Crisp's visit Monday to see a hand specialist in Baltimore. Crisp injured his right thumb sliding into third base in a game last Wednesday. He's expected to miss three months.

On this date: In 1901, Cleveland scored nine runs with two outs in the ninth inning to defeat the Washington Senators, 14-13.

And here's the answer: In a deal to bolster its starting rotation, the Tribe picked up right-hander Dave Burba, who pitched for the Buckeyes. At the time of the deal, Casey had Jim Thome blocking his path at first base.

On deck: The Indians continue their four-game series Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Twins. Right-hander Jake Westbrook will start for the Tribe, and he will face right-hander Joe Mays.

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.