Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting good, and getting lucky

Here's how good things are going for the Indians right now. The day after they leave Seattle, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is scheduled to start. The day before the Indians get to Anaheim, Angels ace Jerad Weaver pitched. So in their six-game west coast trip against two different teams, the Indians, through sheer chance, miss both of those two teams' best starting pitchers, one of them the reigning Cy Young Award winner.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, but so far this season the Indians have been lucky AND good. Lucky in that they don't have to face Hernandez or Weaver on their trip. Meanwhile, their 7-2 start (all those losses coming in a row and all the wins coming in a row) is not a fluke. They deserve to be 7-2, with a seven-game winning streak, because they are playing very good baseball.

Their defense so far has been sensational. The hitting has been great - only a couple guys not hitting, and one of them is Shin-Soo Choo, their best hitter, so you know he'll start to hit soon. Their starting pitching, after the first two games of the season, has been way better than expected, and their bullpen has been bullish, when needed.

Overlooked somewhat during the winning streak has been the great work by the Indians' three most important relievers: Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, and Tony Sipp. Those three relievers have made a combined 15 appearances. In those 15 appearances, the two Perezes and Sipp have pitched 16 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits.

In other words, when the Indians take a lead into the late innings, they don't blow it. The two Perezes and Sipp have made sure of that. Obviously the bullpen perfection by those three relievers won't go on all season. Each of them will have some bad games now and then. But if the Indians are going to sustain the momentum they have built up over the first 10 days of the season, their bullpen, especially the back of the bullpen, will have to carry a big part of the load.

So far, the two Perezes and Sipp have been equal to the task.


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