|Can they get back in the race without Grady?
After struggling through elbow pain for most of the month, Grady Sizemore finally landed on the disabled list Sunday. Sizemore followed up a strong April by going 24-for-114 (.211) in May and was limited to designated hitter duties last week as the Indians tried to keep him in the lineup despite problems throwing. Cleveland is set to get Travis Hafner back at some point this week, so he'll take over at DH.
Ben Francisco had been subbing for Sizemore in center field with Mark DeRosa playing a lot of left field, but it was Trevor Crowe playing center field Sunday with Francisco sliding over to left field. However, once Hafner returns to soak up the DH at-bats it seems likely that DeRosa will get most of the starts in left field with a quasi-platoon of Crowe versus righties and Francisco versus lefties in center.
While the preseason AL Central favorites end May in last place and without their best player, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Edwin Jackson earned a spot on my preseason "busts" list because his 14 wins and 4.42 ERA didn't match his sub par 108/77 K/BB ratio over 183.1 innings last year. However, instead of taking a step backward he's taken his game to a whole new level. A change of scenery and new pitching coach Rick Knapp have worked wonders on Jackson, who shut out the Orioles for eight innings Sunday.
Not only has Jackson sliced his walk rate by 37 percent, his strikeout rate is also up 43 percent. He hasn't pitched as well as the 2.30 ERA suggests, but Jackson has a 57/18 K/BB ratio in 74 innings and has walked more than two batters twice in 11 starts after doing so in 13 of 31 starts last season. His mid-90s fastball has always been intriguing and now Jackson is finally learning how to actually pitch.
* It turns out that Matt Wieters is actually human. Called up Friday, baseball's top prospect started all three weekend games for the Orioles and went 2-for-11 with zero walks and three strikeouts. The good news is that both of his hits went for extra bases and after catching back-to-back games he was used at designated hitter Sunday, so the Orioles will get Wieters as many at-bats as possible.
* Matt Gamel has gone just 6-for-28 (.214) while starting only half of Milwaukee's games since being called up from Triple-A two weeks ago, but general manager Doug Melvin said Sunday that he'll stick with the team through at least the end of interleague play on June 25. Rickie Weeks' season-ending wrist injury has given Gamel more starts of late and he may be in the majors for good by then.
* Carl Pavano has been one of the rare bright spots for the Indians and turned in another solid outing Sunday, holding his ex-Yankees teammates to three runs in 7.1 innings. Pavano got stuck with a no-decision despite leaving up 4-2 and his ERA remains ugly at 5.29, but since allowing nine runs in his Cleveland debut he has a 4.07 ERA and 49/10 K/BB ratio in 62 innings spread over 10 starts.
AL Quick Hits: Kevin Youkilis homered twice Sunday and leads the league with a 1.150 OPS … Zack Greinke allowed more than two runs Sunday for the first time this year, taking a no-decision for seven innings of four-run ball … Ervin Santana struggled again Sunday and has now allowed 19 runs in 18 innings since coming off the disabled list … Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-5 with a homer Sunday to finish with a .377 batting average for May … Andrew Bailey blew what would've been a five-out save Sunday, but ended up with a win instead … Mark Teixeira homered and drove in four runs Sunday, finishing May at .330-13-34 … Jon Lester broke out of his slump by racking up a dozen strikeouts in six innings Sunday … Adam Kennedy went deep twice Sunday, and is batting .390 with four homers and five steals in 21 games since signing with Oakland … Josh Hamilton (groin) pinch-hit Sunday, but is still scheduled to undergo an MRI exam.
NL Quick Hits: Adrian Gonzalez became the first big leaguer to 20 homers when he smacked a three-run blast Sunday … Brad Lidge appears to be back on track after saving games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday … Ian Stewart went hitless Sunday, finishing May just 9-for-64 (.141) … John Maine left Sunday's start after six scoreless innings with the same stomach virus that kept Carlos Beltran out of the lineup … Edwin Encarnacion (wrist) is reportedly several weeks from coming off the disabled list, but Edinson Volquez (back) is expected to be activated for Monday's start against St. Louis … Jamie Moyer came into Sunday with a 7.42 ERA, but held the Nationals to one run over six innings … Casey Kotchman left Sunday's game after being hit on the shin by a pitch … Chad Gaudin struck out nine and walked none over 6.1 innings of two-run ball Sunday at Coors Field.