Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

How are they doing it?

How did the Indians go from 0-2 horror show to the hottest team in the majors with an eight-game winning streak?

The old-fashioned way: pitching and defense.

It was Mitch Talbot’s turn Monday night and he came through, going eight scoreless innings while allowing only five hits.

“My biggest thing was locating my fastball down in the zone,” Talbot said in published reports. “It had a little bit of sink, a little bit of run, and I was getting ground balls. Most hitters are going to try to run your pitch count up, and maybe take a pitch here or there, so it always helps to get ahead. It’s a pretty big accomplishment to stick around that long in the game.”

“The pitching,” Indians manager Manny Acta told The Plain Dealer. “Other than Opening Day, our starters have all been able to go deep into the game. It gives us a chance to keep the guys rested in the bullpen so we can match up with them.

During the winning streak, the starters are 6-0 with a 1.55 ERA.

The starters have also concentrated on throwing first-pitch strikes.

”They’ve been successful, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop telling them,” Acta told The Beacon Journal. ”It’s easier said than done, but they understand. And having success, they see that it does work. The success Masterson has had so far is due to that. Not that this is rocket science. The numbers are there to show it. You can’t pitch from behind.”

As good as the starters have been, the key members of the bullpen have been even better:

  • Tony Sipp has thrown five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out four
  • Chris Perez has thrown five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out three
  • Rafael Perez has thrown four scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out four
  • Vinnie Pestano has worked three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out four.

With that kind of pitching, it’s no wonder the Tribe is on a roll.

As for the defense, the Indians have made only four errors – second-fewest in the AL – and have allowed only one unearned run. Two of those errors have been made by the infield, which made 72 errors last season.

The fast start by the Tribe is important on a lot of levels. With the NFL Draft still a few weeks away and the Cavs out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the Indians have NE Ohio’s undivided attention. If they were 2-8 instead of 8-2, many fans would have already checked out on the season.

Plus every game they win now makes it less damaging when they inevitably go on a three- or four-game losing streak. Think about it: if the Indians play .500 ball the rest of the way they will finish with 84 wins – a 15-game improvement over last season.

And hey, there ain’t no shame in that.

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