Riding an eight-game losing streak, the club returned to Cleveland in time for manager Manny Acta's second annual charity bowling fundraiser. The event, run by the ImpACTA Kids Foundation, is used to provide scholarship opportunities to kids in Cleveland, build homes in Acta's native country, the Dominican Republic, and help other needy children in both areas.
"It's unfortunate that it's happening at this time, the way things are with our baseball club," Acta said. "But we just want to give back to our fans. Unfortunately, it's probably not the happiest time for them, but we're here doing our part, and it's a great time for our players to come out here and mingle with our fans."
This year, some of the money raised went toward a new ambulance for the Dominican.
"That's going to be very helpful for the people back home," Acta said. "Part of the proceeds from this is going to go toward shipping it down there to the people that really need it."
A slew of Indians players and front-office executives attended the event, including CEO Paul Dolan, president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti. Jack Hannahan, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Santana and a collection of teammates and coaches joined. The Cleveland celebrities bowled with and signed autographs for fans, who were treated to dinner, drinks and a raffle.
Justin Masterson, widely regarded in the home clubhouse as the team's best bowler, said his fortune on the lanes has rivaled his tough luck on the mound.
"Lately, my luck in bowling has been the same," Masterson said. "I'm good at knocking down all but one pin. I keep getting a bunch of nines."
Masterson said it's easier to throw a strike on the mound than to bowl one, adding that knocking down 10 pins is more rewarding than hitting his catcher's mitt one time.
"If you do the little dance after you throw a strike in baseball, or even if you strike somebody out and do a little dance, I don't think people would like it," the 6-foot-6 right-hander said. "But if you get three strikes in bowling, you have to do the turkey dance. Maybe I should start doing the turkey dance on the mound."
Masterson, referencing a turkey, or a stretch of three consecutive strikes, appreciated the opportunity to assist Acta in his fundraiser.
"Manny does a great job of helping people out," Masterson said. "When it comes to his home in the Dominican, but also here in the States, he loves the game of baseball and has such a heart to impact kids' lives."
Last year, the event fell on the day the Indians acquired franchise favorite Jim Thome, the club's all-time home run leader. This season, it comes amid a stretch during which the Indians have lost 21 of 25. Acta was glad to have a distraction for the evening.
"I don't think anything can take my mind off baseball," he said. "It's obviously my job and my passion. It's great to have a day off and to have an event like this. Players will be able to come out and relax. We always say that baseball is our job and our passion, but it's not our life. This is a really good event where we try to give back to our fans and connect with them, and it's also for a good cause."