About a week ago the Cleveland Indians had a 14-23 record, sat in last place in the American League Central (9.0 games back), and were looking for a way to turn their season around. The Indians entered their four game series with the White Sox with only two hot hitters, a shaky starting staff, and a deflated bullpen, but they knew they needed to start winning ballgames and in a hurry.
And that’s exactly what they did. After losing the first game of the important four game series against the Sox, the Indians took control. They won the next three games of the series and got wonderful pitching performances along the way.
On Tuesday, Trevor Bauer started the hot pitching streak by going 7.1 innings, striking out seven, while only allowing one run. Bauer was having a tough time commanding his fastball, but was able to get out of some sticky situations with some great off-speed stuff. This outing by Bauer started a wonderful starting pitching streak that is still going today.
On Wednesday, the Indians called up long-time major league starter Shaun Marcum to make his first start since 2013, and he did’t disappoint. With his finesse pitching style, Marcum went out there and threw 6.2 quality innings, while striking out six, and only allowing two runs on solo shots. He kept the White Sox hitters off balance and showed his veteran savvy throughout.
The Indians’ hot pitching streak continued with Salazar’s series-clinching victory. Salazar threw 6.2 dominant innings, striking out eight Sox hitters, and allowing no runs. Salazar’s start gave the Indians their second series win in a row and gave them serious momentum entering their next series against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Indians threw out their core three starters (Carrasco, Kluber, Bauer) against the Reds and they kept the train rolling.
The pitching staff continued their solid streak against the Reds, going 3-0, while striking out 18, and only giving up three earned runs. On Friday, Carrasco was a little shaky during his outing but was able to get out of a couple of jams and limit the Reds’ struggling offense. On Saturday, Kluber continued his dominance in eight great innings. And on Sunday, Bauer limited the Reds to only a solo home run and pitched another quality 7.2 innings.
Overall during the six game winning streak, the Indians starting pitching staff went 5-0 with an 1.47 ERA, 47 strikeouts, and a .204 batting average against in 43.0 innings pitched. The staff has been on a outstanding run during those six games and it’s a major reason for the Tribe’s recent success.
Along with the pitching, the hitting and defense have finally been productive during the streak. In the past six games, the Indians have hit .265, while averaging 4.3 runs per game. Along with already hot hitters Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley, others such as David Murphy and Brandon Moss have heated up as well. With multiple hitters hot at the same time, the Indians lineup has been able to generate solid run support for the starting pitchers.
The Indians have also fielded well during their streak. During the last six games the Indians have had a .990 fielding percentage, while only making three errors. These numbers may just seem ok for most teams but for a horrible fielding team like the Indians, they are great. One of the defensive bright spots has been the return of slick fielding catcher Yan Gomes off of the disabled list after missing six weeks.
Along with the six game winning streak, the Indians have won eight out of their last ten games and are crawling out of the cellar in the American League Central. And to cap it off, the team is finally healthy, raising hopes to continue improving their dismal record, and finally thriving in every facet of the game. Could the Indians finally be ready to play up to their potential?
By Gabe Cohn
Follow Me on Twitter: @CSTGabe