CLEVELAND — The Indians’ roller-coaster lineup would have continued Friday had the Tribe not got washed out as Franklin Guiterrez and Casey Blake were set to flip-flop spots in the order with Guiterrez taking over the No. 2 hole and Blake moved down to eighth.
It would have been the 26th different lineup in 30 games, but it wasn’t so much a promotion for Guiterrez, who went 1-for-5 and stranded four runners on Thursday, as a move made of necessity on a team still trying to find itself at the plate.
“We’re just shuffling some things around,” Tribe manager Eric Wedge said. “There’s certain spots where I want people in the lineup. Because of that, I’ve got to move others.
“We’ll keep doing whatever we need to do to get things going. You put some time into it. There’s definitely a thought process. We’ll put something together until it makes sense.”
While the rest of the lineup remained the same, Wedge was still trying to piece together the remains of a squad that is batting .248, the third worst in the American League behind only Baltimore and Chicago.
As he did Thursday, Wedge left Travis Hafner in the No. 6 spot behind Jhonny Peralta and ahead of Ryan Garko.
“Every year it takes some time to get a lineup that works,” Wedge said. “I think that right now we’re trying to figure it out. Travis Hafner isn’t a six-hole hitter, but that’s where he needs to be. Sometimes it’s for the greater good.”
Though they did their best to lose Thursday night in a 3-2 extra-inning win over Seattle, the Indians did win their third series of the season as they head into this weekend’s series with perennial AL Central Division cellar dweller Kansas City.
“(The lineup) is going to show itself eventually to me, to us,” Wedge said. “It’s going to take time. You have to take it from at-bat to at-bat and game to game. The results will come.”
Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-out extra-inning hit to beat Seattle marked the first time in nine tries an Indian got a hit with the bases loaded this homestand. Though Cabrera’s batting just .202 after snapping a 0-for-14 slump, Wedge is confident in the second baseman’s production.
“He’s a big-game player, a big-situation player,” Wedge said. “He has that ability. He wants to be up there in those situations. He’s confident in those situations. He has the right heartbeat in those situations. He just has to have that confidence throughout now.”
Jensen Lewis pitched two innings in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees and two more in an 8-3 win over Seattle on Wednesday, the longest stints the righty has had this season. Those elongated sessions didn’t come by accident as Wedge continues to push Lewis harder.
“You never know how long you’ll be able to use a guy,” Wedge said. “He’s getting better and better. His arm’s working better, the ball’s coming out of his hand better. His velocity is coming back. He’s got to figure that out in the winter. He’s got to come out and be ready to rock and roll right away.”
Though Victor Martinez’s power numbers are way down from his normal pace — the catcher has no home runs and six doubles — Wedge can look the other way as the catcher entered Friday leading the league with a .356 batting average on the heels of a 13-game hitting streak.
“(The hamstring) affected him early on,” Wedge said. “It most definitely affected the number of doubles he’s hit. I’ve always said when you hit home runs, you hit doubles. Extra-base hits are important for us as they are for every team.”
There’s no doubt the Tribe will greet today’s scheduled starting pitcher, Gil Meche, with open arms. The right-hander is 2-7 lifetime against Cleveland, spanning 13 starts. He is 1-2 lifetime at Progressive Field.
On April 22, Meche was on the wrong end of a 15-1 beatdown in Kansas City. The 2007 all-star allowed a career-high eight earned runs on 10 hits in just 31/3 innings of work, striking out two and walking one.
First baseman Michael Aubrey, the club’s No. 1 pick in 2003, made his debut with the Class AAA Buffalo Bisons. Aubrey was hitting .277 (28-for-101) for the Double-A Akron Aeros with nine doubles, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 24 games before Friday. First baseman Jordan Brown (left knee tendinitis) was placed on the DL to make room for Aubrey.
• Hafner entered Friday’s game needing three RBIs for career No. 500 and sat just five home runs away from 150. Should the designated hitter go deep six more times, he’ll tie Joe Carter for 10th place on the all-time list for the Tribe.
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.