The Indians are getting good reports from Triple-A Buffalo on left-handers Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers. Both demoted after long stretches of poor pitching in Cleveland's rotation, each appears to be back on track. Lee has a 2.70 ERA through three starts with 20 strikeouts in 16 2-3 innings. Sowers went 0-4 at Buffalo following a 1-6 record in Cleveland, but has a 1.69 ERA in his past four starts.
Both lefties could soon return to Cleveland and be a big help to the Indians during the stretch run as the Tribe continues to battle Detroit for the AL Central title -- while also trying to fend off New York, Seattle and Minnesota for a possible wild-card berth.
Two other pitchers who likely will bring some help are right-handers Mike Koplove and Matt Miller, both of who were in Cleveland for a brief time earlier this season. Koplove is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 11 saves. Miller, who has battled elbow problems for two years, is 0-1 with a 2.96 ERA and one save.
Ben Francisco is still hitting well after being sent back to Buffalo in late July. The outfielder, who had several key hits for the Indians shortly after being called up in June, has hit .273 (12-for-44) in 11 games. Over his past eight games, he has batted .344 to put his season average at .320 with seven homers, 36 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 72 games for the Bisons. In 19 games for the Indians, Francisco hit .273 (12-for-44) with three homers and seven RBI.
First baseman Ryan Mulhern, pretty much the only Bisons regular not to be shuttled back and forth to either Class AA Akron or up to Cleveland this year, leads the team in many offensive categories, including games (108), at-bats (388), hits (120), runs (57), doubles (33), homers (13), RBI (65), slugging percentage (.505) and strikeouts (106). He's hitting .309.
Three of the Indians' top prospects are on the Bisons' disabled list, however. Right-hander Adam Miller and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo each have elbow strains and outfielder Brad Snyder a broken thumb.
Infielder Joe Inglett, who hit .284 in 64 games for the Indians last season, has never really gotten untracked after missing most of spring training with a series of leg and hamstring injuries. He's batting only .240 (75-for-313) and has been caught stealing 10 times in 15 attempts. He entered the season with a .310 average in 562 career games in the minors.
Third baseman Andy Marte, who opened the year as the starter at third base for the Indians, has been average since being sent down at the end of April. He has 12 homers and 44 RBI in 72 games, but also is hitting only .243 with just 13 walks and 50 strikeouts along with 12 errors.
RECENT MINOR-LEAGUE TRANSACTIONS
RHP Travis Turek transferred from Gulf Coast League Indians to Lake County
INF Asdrubal Cabrera's contract purchased by Cleveland from Buffalo
INF Mike Rouse designated for assignment by Cleveland
3B-OF Russell Branyan signed by Cleveland to a minor-league contract and assigned to Buffalo
INF Shaun Larkin placed on Akron disabled list
C Argenis Tavarez activated at Akron
INF Cristo Arnal transferred from Lake County to Mahoning Valley
RHP Matt Robinson transferred from Lake County to GCL Indians
OF Juan Valdes placed on Mahoning Valley disabled list (retro to 8/1/07) with a sprained left thumb
OF Lucas Montero activated from Lake County DL
C-3B Chris Gimenez transferred from Akron to Kinston
1B Stephen Head transferred from Kinston to Akron
C Chao-Kuan Wu retired at Kinston
INF Chris De La Cruz transferred from Kinston to Akron
OF Brian Barton transferred from Akron to Buffalo
LHP Aaron Laffey had his contract purchased from Buffalo by Cleveland
LHP Jason Stanford designated for assignment by Cleveland
RHP Scott Elarton signed by Cleveland to a minor-league contract and assigned to Buffalo