CLEVELAND -- Guillermo Mota hadn't allowed an earned run all year before Tuesday night. He had also never faced Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez in his career. Both events occurred Tuesday night, and neither was pretty for the Indians. They watched Mota give up the go-ahead run not once, but twice, the latter coming off the might of Ramirez's three-run blast to the right-field seats that put the Red Sox up for good in an 8-6 game.
"He's a great hitter," Mota said of Ramirez. "He's amazing. I hope I get to face him again." Mota has faced plenty of batters in the early going this season, and used plenty of pitches to do so. He used 39 pitches Tuesday night and 41 in his previous outing against the Royals on Friday. "That's me," Mota said. "That's how I pitch." Considering Mota had two arm injuries with the Marlins last season, the Indians have to be careful not to overwork him. So each time he's logged a high pitch count, he's been rested at least three days, manager Eric Wedge said. "Obviously, we've extended his role a bit," Wedge said. "As the bullpen evolves, we'll see him out there more frequently and not as long." Mota is expected to be the club's eighth-inning setup man as the season rolls along, but for now he's had to come on board in the seventh several times. "I was ready for that," he said. "I wasn't expecting it so soon, but guys are hurt, so that has to be my job. I'll do whatever's best for the team." Surgery a success: The surgery to repair the flexor tendon in right-handed reliever Matt Miller's throwing elbow was successfully performed Wednesday at Lutheran Hospital. Head team physician Dr. Mark Schickendantz performed the surgery, which will likely keep Miller out of action for the next four to six months. "If there's a chance he'll be back this year," Wedge said, "it's a slim chance." Miller had a similar injury that kept him out for virtually the entire second half last season. He suffered it again during the sixth inning of the April 19 game against the Orioles. Looking for length: Of course, general manager Mark Shaprio has seen the way the Indians' bullpen has struggled this season. A 6.21 ERA from the 'pen, which ranks next-to-last in the American League, just ahead of the Royals, is pretty hard to ignore. But Shapiro's greater concern has been with the starters, who have lasted six innings just 10 times in 20 games. "Our plan is to get better innings out of our starters," Shapiro said. "A lot's been made of the bullpen, but what we're doing is putting a strain on the 'pen that's hard to handle." Shapiro was asked if the starters' struggle to provide depth has been the biggest surprise on the club so far. "We're only 20 games in, so I don't want to characterize anything as a surprise," he said. "But that's been our biggest challenge to this point. We need to get more consistent quality starts from our rotation. Right now, from the amount of strain we've put on our 'pen, you're in scramble mode every night." Here's the question: In the Indians' history, two players have turned two unassisted double plays in a single season. Tris Speaker became the first in 1918. Can you name the other? Down on the farm: Triple-A Buffalo left-hander Jason Stanford lowered his ERA from 5.25 to 3.71 by pitching five scoreless innings in the Bisons' 4-2 loss to Syracuse on Tuesday. Andy Marte was 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored to raise his hitting streak to nine games. ... First baseman Ryan Mulhern was 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored in Double-A Akron's 8-0 win over Binghamton. Nick Pesco worked five scoreless innings to post his first victory. ... Class A Kinston right-hander Jensen Lewis gave up two runs on three hits over five innings to earn the 6-5 win over Lynchburg. ... Class A Lake County outfielder John Drennen is out indefinitely with a dislocated left thumb, an injury he suffered while sliding into a base Monday. Drennen, the 33rd overall pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, is batting .333 with a home run and five RBIs in 16 games for the Captains. Tribe tidbits: Shapiro said the club's .500 start will not force him into decision-making mode just yet. "We've built the club on track records," he said. "A bad start is not going to cause us to panic and make a move." ... Fernando Cabrera (bruised right heel) is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday, his first day of eligibility. ... Eduardo Perez received a rare start against a right-handed pitcher Wednesday, because knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was on the mound. "Right-handers, historically, have been better against [knuckleball pitchers]," Wedge said. ... Wednesday's game against the White Sox was aired on ESPN, and the network will carry Sunday night's 8:05 p.m. ET game against the Rangers and Tuesday's 12:05 p.m. game against the White Sox. ... Indians pitchers have gone 1-5 with a 9.36 ERA over the last six games. ... The Indians and USO are teaming up for the fourth annual Rally for the Troops by donating a portion of the sales from Saturday's game against the Rangers to the cause, which seeks to raise money for local military families who have financial hardships while their husband or wife is overseas. And the answer is: Jose Cardenal turned two unassisted double plays in 1968. On deck: The Indians and Red Sox wrap up their three-game series with Thursday's 7:05 p.m. game at Jacobs Field. Right-hander Paul Byrd (2-2, 9.15 ERA) will face right-hander Josh Beckett (3-0, 2.54 ERA). College students with a valid school ID will receive half-priced tickets.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com.h This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.