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Indians struggle at the Jake



Published: Sat, August 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cleveland is 36-25 on the road but just 27-28 at home.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians feel right at home on the road this season -- but for some reason they have struggled at Jacobs Field.

Nobody seems to know why.

"If we knew, we'd do something to change it," catcher Victor Martinez said Saturday before the Indians played the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, seeking to even their record at home. "I don't see anybody doing anything different in road games."

The Indians had better start winning at home if they hope to gain a spot in the playoffs. They started Saturday tied with the New York Yankees in the wild card race, 3 1/2 games behind Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels.

But while the Indians had a 36-25 record on the road, they were only 27-28 at home -- the only club with a winning road record to be sub-.500 at home.

The root of the problem is a lack of offense. In its first 55 games at home, Cleveland hit .267 with 59 homers and 237 RBIs. In 61 road games, the Indians had 72 homers, 288 RBIs and a .272 average.

Cleveland has pitched better at home, but with less run support. The Indians had a 3.47 ERA at Jacobs Field and 4.07 ERA on the road.

"It isn't something you can explain," said manager Eric Wedge. "All I can say is we prepare the same way, home or road.

"But one of the beautiful things about baseball is you cannot define every trend or every tendency."

Veteran Jose Hernandez said that he prefers not to dwell on the Indians' lack of success at home, but good play on the road.

"It's really no big deal," said Hernandez. "You play hard every game, no matter where it is. It's just a matter of luck sometimes what happens and you can't explain it."

With 25 of their 45 remaining games at Jacobs Field, the club hopes to regain the homefield advantage it enjoyed in the previous 11 seasons, when the Indians went 490-360.

The comfort zone

Fernando Cabrera attributes his fine 2005 season to being able to relax on the mound when his breaking ball deserts him.

The 23-year-old right-hander struck out a career-high six over four scoreless innings Friday night to lower his ERA to 1.35 in six appearances with the Indians.

"I've just learned to trust my stuff and not worry about things when I am pitching," said Cabrera, who went 6-1 with a 1.23 ERA and three saves in 30 appearances at Triple-A Buffalo to earn a call up to the majors.

"Before, I would maybe doubt myself, especially when my breaking pitch wasn't working," said Cabrera. "Now, I keep throwing it until I get it right.

Rhodes sidelined

Left-hander Arthur Rhodes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation and right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was recalled from Buffalo before Saturday's game.

Rhodes, 35, was activated from the bereavement list Friday. He had missed a week because of an illness in the family.

"He had some swelling in the knee and when you combine that with the fact he hasn't pitched for awhile, we decided to put him on the DL," said Wedge, who would not discuss Rhodes' family situation.

The move was made retroactive to August 12.

In 44 relief outings, Rhodes is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA.

Guthrie, 26, the Indians' first-round draft pick in 2002, was 10-9 with a 5.20 ERA in 22 starts at Buffalo. Over his last nine starts, he was 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA.

He arrived in the clubhouse and was greeted by teammates, then rushed to get into uniform and out on the field for pregame practice -- but in his hurry forgot to put on a belt.

"Where you going, looking like that?" said closer Bob Wickman. "We wear belts up here, son."

XSaturday's Indians game was not completed in time for this edition.




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