Shhhh…don’t tell them, but the Indians will wake up Thursday morning a half game ahead of Minnesota for first in the Central.
The Indians are 2 games over .500 for the first time since game 2. On May 5th, the Tribe was 14-17, and found themselves plummeting to 17th in ESPN’s power rankings. Since then, all the Indians have done is gone 7-2, winning series against the Yankees, Blue Jays and A’s by a combined score of 38-13. In short, the Tribe has pitched their way into first.
Wednesday night was no exception. Sabathia was dominant once again, going the distance for the shutout, the Tribe’s league leading 7th of the season. The Hefty Lefty struck out 11 A’s en route to a 2-0 win. The numbers that you have probably seen in game recaps are staggering. Tribe starters have gone 43 and a third consecutive innings without allowing a single run. Not even an unearned run. Zip. Zero. Goose egg. How about a little perspective on the streak-
The consecutive scoreless streak is the longest by an Indians starting staff since they tossed 47 scoreless innings in August 1948. It’s the longest by a major-league team in one season since a 54-inning streak by Baltimore’s starters from Sept. 1-7, 1974, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Just to refresh your memory, the Tribe won the World Series behind that staff of Feller, Lemon and Bearden. The other staff mentioned, the ’74 Orioles won the AL East and lost in the ALCS to the Oakland A’s.
Tomorrow at noon the Indians send Aaron Laffey to the mound to continue the streak that he helped start. Saturday Laffey was given 12 runs, but only needed one of them to get his first win of the year. Laffey went 7 innings in that win over Toronto. The Tribe’s seldom used bullpen went the final 2. Speaking of that bullpen, in the last 6 games, Cleveland’s pen has thrown 6.2 innings. Talk about your rested arms.
Not surprising is the number of categories the Tribe hurlers lead the league in. For example starter’s ERA (3.06), number of quality starts (25), runs allowed (85) and OPS against for starters. But what is fueling this? What has been the huge difference since the beginning of the year for the Tribe?
It could be something as simple as walks. The Indians just aren’t allowing free base runners right now, and that is translating to fewer runs being scored. In April, Cleveland issued 87 walks. In May that number has been reduced to 22. That calculates to almost half as many walks per contest. During their streak, the Indians have issued 9 walks, and 4 of those came from Fausto Carmona. Of course Fausto was able to minimize the damage with ground balls for double plays.
Which brings us to the defense. Superb play from the infield and the outfield during this run. Cabrera, Sizemore, Garko and Martinez when he played first base have all been terrific. Dellucci made a couple of nice plays, Ben Francisco came up big with an outfield assist the other night, and it goes on and on. Here’s hoping the starting pitching remains dominant.
Oh yeah, the Tribe got solo homers from Sizemore and Garko. That’s it. There’s your offensive report.