R.A. Dickey, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez. What do these pitchers all have in common?
They’re among the most elite pitchers in baseball and they’re all recent Cy Young Award winners. They are the pitchers that opposing teams fear, the guys that no one wants to face.
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Unless you’re the Cleveland Indians.
No one can seem to explain it, but the numbers don’t lie. The Indians were the first team in MLB history to defeat six Cy Young Award winners before June first. Sunday’s win against King Felix makes seven.
While the Indians have struggled against young up-and-comers like Vidal Nuno of the Yankees and Jonathan Pettibone of the Phillies, they seem to have mastered some of the best pitchers in the game.
What’s their secret?
According to ace Justin Masterson, there isn’t one.
“When a guy out there is good, they get excited,” Masterson said. “I don’t think it’s just with the former Cy Young Award winners it’s just what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. Getting the starter deep into counts, having solid at-bats and making everything worth it.”
So maybe it’s just a coincidence, one of those ‘baseball is a funny game’ types of things.
Either way, outfielder Michael Brantley said the team is aware of what they’re doing.
“Absolutely we’re aware of it,” Brantley said. “We talked about it this morning before we came in. It’s all about our approach, making sure we don’t try to do too much. We want to work the count and get them out of there before the fifth inning if we can. We go out there and try to get the win every day, but it’s nice to get it against such a great pitcher.”
The only Cy Young winner the Indians haven’t beat this season is Jake Peavy. The White Sox starter pitched a masterful game against the Tribe in April, giving up five hits, one run and striking out 11 in seven innings.
Right now, the list of former Cy Young Award winners that the Indians have defeated this season consists of R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, David Price, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander- who they will face again on Wednesday when Detroit comes to Cleveland.