CLEVELAND — They might be baseball’s quietest hot team because they don’t score a lot of runs, but the Cleveland Indians have won four games in a row, mostly thanks to their pitching.
On Thursday night at Progressive Field, the Indians will go for their fifth win in a row when they host the Detroit Tigers in the final game of their-four game series.
Behind a three-hit complete game by Carlos Carrasco, the Indians beat the Tigers 5-1 on Wednesday night, Cleveland’s 10th win in a row over Detroit. In their last six games overall, the Indians have only scored 15 runs — an average of 2.5 per game — but their pitchers have only allowed six runs in the six games.
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At the start of play Wednesday the Indians’ .158 team batting average was the worst in the major leagues, 50 points below the next closest team.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona said his team’s hitters have not let their slow offensive start affect their attitude.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Francona said. “It’s not a lot of fun going through periods where you swing the bat like this. But they’re playing the game with enthusiasm. They’re into it. I’ve seen teams that maybe pout a little bit and because of that you lose a couple of games, and that doesn’t help anything.”
The Indians’ hitters showed some life in their win Wednesday night, but offensively the lineup is still a work in progress.
The hitting is the only one of the three facets of the game in which Cleveland isn’t excelling. The Indians rank third in the league in pitching with a 2.99 ERA, and they have made just two errors, the second-lowest total in the league.
“If you don’t play defense it’s really hard to win,” Francona said. “You put so much value in your pitching staff that if you don’t make the plays it just doesn’t work. But if you have good pitching and good defense, when you score, it’s meaningful.”
On Thursday night, it’s Trevor Bauer’s turn to take the mound. Bauer, who will make his third start of the year, is coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Kansas City in his last start on Saturday. In that game, Bauer pitched eight innings and allowed one run on three hits, with seven strikeouts and two walks.
In two starts against Detroit last year, Bauer was 0-2 with a 13.00 ERA. In his career vs. the Tigers, he has made 12 appearances and is 4-5 with a 7.82 ERA.
Michael Fulmer will start for the Tigers, his third start of the season. His last start also came on Saturday, a 6-1 win over the White Sox. Fulmer pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in that start, giving up six hits, with four strikeouts and three walks.
Fulmer started one game against Cleveland last year, a 5-3 victory in which he pitched six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, with one strikeout and one walk. In five career starts against the Indians, he is 2-2 with a 6.04 ERA.