CLEVELAND — When Jeremy Sowers was banished to the minors after extended struggles with the Indians during the first half of the season, there was no guarantee he would make it back to the big leagues this year.
He did, getting recalled Monday to start one of the games of a doubleheader in Seattle on Sept. 26.
“If this team hasn’t found itself in the postseason yet, it’s a way to help them,” said Sowers, who will pitch in a simulated game Friday to prepare himself for the start in Seattle, which could factor in Cleveland’s playoff hopes.
Sowers was just short of brilliant over the second half of last season — his first in the majors — but did little to help the Indians after starting this year as the team’s fifth starter.
The 24-year-old left-hander sputtered to a 1-6 record and 6.93 ERA in 12 starts before being demoted to Triple-A Buffalo.
“I wasn’t pitching very well,” Sowers said. “It was the right move.”
After a slow start for the Bisons, Sowers turned things around, finishing strong and helping Double-A Akron in the postseason. He went 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts for Buffalo before winning both his playoff starts for the Aeros, while allowing just a run on eight hits over 131/3 innings.
“He handled everything about as good as you can handle a situation like that,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “He went down there and improved tremendously. He worked himself to where we feel like he can be the pitcher we thought he’d be.”
Sowers said he relocated his confidence and started feeling like himself again after a few outings in Buffalo.
“It was a process,” Sowers said. “It’s just part of the game. You have your ups and downs. When you’re in that situation, you hope you’re able to correct it and get another opportunity.
“I’m 24, this is only my third professional season. As long as I wake up and don’t have any horrible pain in my arm, I’m all right. It’s just failure. That’s all it is.”
Wedge rarely places extra significance on any game or series, but he’s breaking the trend for the Tigers, who trail the first-place Indians by 4½ games in the Central Division standings.
“I’m excited,” Wedge said. “I’m excited for our guys. I’m excited for our fans. I’m excited for this series. Our guys have been playing good baseball for an extended period of time. They don’t need to do anything else.”
Detroit came in hot – riding a five-game winning streak – and loose, with Tigers manger Jim Leyland greeting reporters before the game with a cigar in his mouth and his stocking feet propped up on his desk.
Fausto Carmona, who entered Monday as the league leader with a 3.07 ERA, was named A.L. co-pitcher of the week with Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir.
Carmona (17-8) won the award by winning each of his last two starts, while allowing just one earned run and six hits over 15 innings.
Better with age
Wedge went with Kenny Lofton and Jason Michaels against Detroit’s Kenny Rogers over Franklin Gutierrez on Monday, with the manager feeling their experience against the veteran left-hander was an edge.
Lofton entered the game with a career .391 (18-for-46) batting average off Rogers, while Michaels was at .350 (7-for-20). Gutierrez has only faced Rogers three times, collecting one hit.
C.C. Sabathia is the only American League pitcher that ranks in the top seven in wins
(17, third), ERA (3.21, sixth), innings (227, first), strikeouts (198, fourth), complete games (four, second), winning percentage (.708, sixth) and walks/hits per inning (1.15, sixth).
• The Indians have drawn 181,132 more fans than they had through 149 games last year.
• The Indians broke ground on their new spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Monday, with Hall of Famer Bob Feller taking part in the festivities.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.