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07/06/10 2:19 AM ET

Young Indians brace for tough test in Texas

The Indians don't lead the Major Leagues in many categories this season, but when it comes to inexperienced players, few teams rival the Tribe.

Cleveland enters Tuesday night's game against Texas carrying six rookies on its 25-man roster, trailing only Baltimore and Detroit, each of which has seven.

Injuries to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and center fielder Grady Sizemore have created opportunities for youngsters who would have otherwise honed their skills in the Minors.

Instead, players such as outfielder Michael Brantley and shortstop Jason Donald can now call themselves regulars in the Indians' starting lineup. They join catcher Carlos Santana, starter Mitch Talbot and relievers Hector Ambriz and Frank Herrmann as rookies who have contributed to the Tribe's successes and failures.

"This wasn't the team we were anticipating when we left Spring Training," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "Our starting pitching has exceeded expectations. Our offense has been another story with our top guys being out."

But life goes on for the Indians without Cabrera, Choo and Sizemore. Their latest test comes Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark, where Tribe right-hander Justin Masterson opposes a first-place Rangers team that has Acta's respect.

"They're a very good ballclub," Acta said. "They have a very balanced lineup with power and speed, and their pitching has come a long way.

"They're a legit contender. We have our work cut out for us."

Perhaps no more so than against Texas lefty C.J. Wilson, an ex-reliever who will vie for his team-leading 12th quality start.

"For him to pitch the way he has for us has been huge," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said.

Indians: Hurlers cutting back on long balls
Tribe pitchers have surrendered one home run in their past 74 innings of work. ... Cleveland is 1-22 when it scores two or fewer runs. ... Double-A Akron outfielder Matt McBride earned Eastern League Player of the Week honors Monday after hitting .370 (10-for-27) with seven runs, two doubles, six homers and nine RBIs in seven games through Sunday.

Rangers: Hamilton getting familiar with first
Left fielder Josh Hamilton has reached base safely in each of his past 28 games, batting .429 (48-for-112) during that stretch. ... Second baseman Ian Kinsler has drawn a walk in eight consecutive contests, the longest streak of his career.

Worth noting
Masterson features a 1.86 ERA in five careers outings (one start) versus Texas. ... Wilson sports a 3.92 ERA in 19 lifetime appearances (one start) opposite Cleveland. ... The Rangers have won 10 of their past 13 games against the Indians.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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