July 23, 2014

Elyria
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Red Sox settle in right at home

CLEVELAND — Indians fans are getting a dose of their own medicine during this series with the Boston Red Sox.
During their team’s successful run in the mid-to-late ’90s, fans from Cleveland unable to get tickets to sold-out Jacobs Field would flock to opposing parks to see their beloved Indians.
Now, they’re the ones being invaded.
With Sox tickets a hot item in Boston these days, fans of the team have traveled to Cleveland for the four-game series and have provided the Red Sox with an almost home-game atmosphere on the road.
“It says a lot about Boston fans,” said Indians first baseman Ryan Garko. “Everybody loves a winner. A lot of people are on the Boston bandwagon. It’s probably like that wherever they go.”
Indians manager Eric Wedge played in the Boston organization, as did Cleveland outfielder Trot Nixon. Neither were surprised to see Boston fans littering Jacobs Field. Red Sox baseball has reached almost religious proportions in Boston.
“I wasn’t born and bred there, but that’s what they say,” Wedge said. “That’s 24-7, 365 (days a year).”
Nixon was asked if it shed a bad light on Cleveland fans, who rank 10th in the American League attendance with an average crowd of 25,138. Boston is third behind the Yankees and Angels with a 36,685 average.
“That’s a judgment call,” Nixon said. “That’s for the fans to say. If they think it looks bad, they should do something about it.”
Garko, a Stanford graduate but huge Notre Dame football fan, found himself in the same predicament as Indians fans when he attended an Irish game in South Bend, Ind., a few years back.
“I was at a Notre Dame-Nebraska game and half the fans were from Nebraska,” Garko said. “I was embarrassed.
“As a player, it doesn’t matter. When you’re a fan of a team, it’s a bad situation to be in.”
Pronk prediction
Travis Hafner is still scuffling, entering Wednesday batting .257 for the season and .237 (9-for-38) over his last 10 games, without a hit in his last 16 at-bats. Still, Wedge thinks his top run producer will rise to the occasion at crunch time.
“Every night you come out and think this is going to be the night, and then he’s going to keep going,” Wedge said. “I think you’re going to see him drive the ball and have a much greater impact on the ballclub over the next couple months.
“The best thing about it is the most important two months are ahead of us.”
In his career, Hafner is a .309 hitter in August, with a .266 average in September and October regular season games.
Fultz fodder
Disabled reliever Aaron Fultz threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and appears to be closer to activation.
“He feels good. I think he feels like he’s over the hump,” Wedge said.
Fultz, who has not pitched since June 22, said he would throw again on Friday but wasn’t sure whether it would be a simulated game or another bullpen session.
Wedge said Fultz would require a minor league rehab assignment before returning.
Minor details
Double-A Akron’s Trevor Crowe, Cleveland’s top draft choice in 2005, entered Wednesday batting .333
(31-for-93) with three homers, 12 RBIs and 21 runs to raise his average to .241. Crowe’s season average did not rise above .200 until June 27.
– Right-hander Bobby Brownlie made his first appearance for the Aeros on Tuesday, allowing two runs on three hits (one homer), while striking out four through three innings of a 6-2 loss to Harrisburg. Brownlie, a first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2002, was signed as a free agent from the Independent League and is expected to join Akron’s rotation.
Roundin’ third
Cleveland entered Wednesday night with a 7-10 record since July 4.
– Former Indians third baseman Travis Fryman (1998-02) was in attendance on Wednesday as part of a family vacation. Fryman, a spring training instructor this season, will serve as a coach for the Indians’ Instructional League this fall.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.