CLEVELAND — The Indians are turning up the heat on the search to rename their ballpark.
The organization has reached an agreement with Cleveland-based sports, entertainment and media firm IMG to assist in a national, regional and local search for a naming rights partner.
“Selecting IMG was an easy decision for us as we seek a naming rights partner for our ballpark,” said team president Paul Dolan in a statement. “IMG will allow us the opportunity not only to partner with another hometown team, but also expand our naming rights search due to the stature and credibility IMG has earned nationally and worldwide in the sports and entertainment business industry.”
When the park opened in 1994, then Indians owner Dick Jacobs purchased the naming rights “Jacobs Field” for a 13-year term. That term expired at the end of last season, and the franchise has been searching for a new name since.
The Indians have been shopping the naming rights to a number of businesses all season, with radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton taping promotional videos for the perspective suitors, which include Key Bank and First Energy.
Apparently not close to an agreement with anyone, the Indians asked IMG for some help.
“With our long ties to the Cleveland area,” said IMG vice president and managing director of consulting, Andy Pierce, “IMG is looking forward to working side by side with the Indians organization to identify and secure a naming rights partner for Jacobs Field that will not only benefit the entire Cleveland and northeast Ohio community, but further grow the team’s success as one of baseball’s most recognized brands.”
The Indians have taken care of their own backyard — the Central Division — going
46-23 against division foes, including a 14-4 record against defending division champ Minnesota and a 12-6 mark against the Tigers.
“We talked about it all year long,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “If you want to win your division, you have to beat those teams.”
Since Aug. 24, Cleveland is 13-0 against division opponents in games started by C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Paul Byrd, who have combined to go 9-0 over the span.
The Indians’ rotation has been at the forefront of the team’s success all season, but even more so as of late.
Cleveland’s starters, which entered Wednesday leading the majors with 9542/3 innings, had posted a 21-11 record and a 3.31 ERA over the last 45 games through Tuesday.
Indians starters had won 64 games through Tuesday, which ranked third in the majors.
Indians reliever Edward Mujica underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks.
Mujica sustained the injury during pregame activities last week. The right-hander has spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Buffalo, but did appear in 10 games for Cleveland, posting an 8.31 ERA over 13 innings.
The Indians complete their final homestand of the season by hosting Oakland in a three-game series that begins Friday at 7:05.
Fausto Carmona (17-8, 3.07) opens the set, opposing right-hander Joe Blanton (14-9, 3.78).
Paul Byrd (15-6, 4.36) and Jake Westbrook (5-9, 4.41) are the scheduled starters Saturday (7:05) and Sunday (1:05), while the A’s counter with righties Dan Haren (14-8, 3.12) and Rich Harden (1-2, 2.45).
Cleveland is 4-3 against Oakland this year.
If you take Cliff Lee out of the equation, Indians relievers have not allowed a run in 25 consecutive innings.
• The Indians are 79-21 in games that they have scored four runs or more.
• The Yankees (6-0) and Red Sox (5-2), two of the Indians’ potential playoff opponents, are the only teams in the AL that own a winning record against Cleveland.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.