Bullpen nearly perfect during winning streak
The Indians have been hitting on all cylinders during their winning streak, which they extended to seven games on Sunday with a 6-4 win over Seattle. Manager Manny Acta has raved about the team's improved defense, which has been outstanding. But the club's late-inning relievers have also been terrific.
In Sunday's win, closer Chris Perez and setup men Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp combined to pitch 2 1/3 hitless and scoreless innings to preserve the win. Sipp and the two Perezes are the Indians' three-most important relievers, and that trio has been nearly perfect in the first 10 days of the season.
In a combined 15 appearances so far, the two Perezes and Sipp have pitched 16 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, with 11 strikeouts. Chris Perez is 3-for-3 in save situations, and Rafael Perez and Sipp have been flawless in their setup roles.
Acta looks at Rafael Perez and Sipp as virtually interchangeable parts in the bullpen. Acta could use one of them as the first lefty out of the bullpen on any given day, and then use the other one in the same role the following day. On some days, he uses them both in the same game. Both pitchers are also capable of coming in as situational lefties, to face one or two batters, or they are also capable of pitching one, or one-plus innings.
Chris Perez took over the closer's role last year following the trade of closer Kerry Wood, and Perez has run with that role. He saved 23 games last season, and seems to have both the temperament and the stuff to be successful in that role.
All of that is good news for Acta, who feels very confident about bringing in any of the three relievers into games in any situation. Those three relievers get most of the credit for making sure when the Indians take a lead late into games that they win those games.
--SS Asdrubal Cabrera hit home runs in two of the three games of the Indians' three-game weekend sweep of Seattle. Cabrera has hit three home runs in 37 at-bats. Prior to this year, Cabrera had hit 18 homers in 1,415 career at-bats in the major leagues.
--3B Jack Hannahan, who is the Indians' new third baseman, got the job primarily because of his defense. Hannahan has been very good defensively, but he continues to make an impact with the bat. Hannahan belted his second homer of the season Sunday. He is hitting .286 overall, with 6 RBI.
--RHP Josh Tomlin pitched 6 2/3 innings to get the win Sunday vs. Seattle. Tomlin has now pitched five or more innings in each of his 14 career starts in the major leagues. He is the only pitcher in Indians history to have done that.
--INF Jason Donald was 1-for-3 at Class AA Akron, in his first game on an injury-rehab assignment. Donald has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with a broken bone in his left hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch in spring training.
--OF Grady Sizemore, on a rehab assignment with Class AA Akron Saturday, played nine innings for the first time in the outfield and went 2-for-4, with a double and a walk. Sizemore, who is coming back from microfracture knee surgery last June, could be activated off the DL sometime before the end of April.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Times Manny Acta has called for a suicide-squeeze bunt in his one-plus years as manager of the Indians. The Indians have successfully executed the squeeze bunt all four of those times.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was Dracula-type weather." -- Manny Acta, on the conditions at Progressive Field during the Indians' 1-0 win over Boston on April 7. The game-time temperature was 38 degrees, and it was foggy, damp and cold all day.
--RHP Joe Smith (strained abdominal muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Akron on April 7.
--CF Grady Sizemore (left knee surgery in June 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 29. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Akron on April 7.
--3B Jason Donald (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He began a rehab assignment April 10 and will likely miss the season's first month.
--OF Trevor Crowe (right shoulder surgery in March 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 30. He will be out until at least late July.
• RHP Fausto Carmona
• RHP Carlos Carrasco
• RHP Justin Masterson
• RHP Josh Tomlin
• RHP Mitch Talbot
• RHP Chris Perez (closer)
• RHP Chad Durbin
• LHP Rafael Perez
• LHP Tony Sipp
• RHP Frank Herrmann
• RHP Vinnie Pestano
• RHP Justin Germano
• Carlos Santana
• Lou Marson
• 1B Matt LaPorta
• 2B Orlando Cabrera
• SS Asdrubal Cabrera
• 3B Jack Hannahan
• DH Travis Hafner
• INF Adam Everett
• LF Austin Kearns
• CF Michael Brantley
• RF Shin-Soo Choo
• OF Shelley Duncan
• OF Jason Buck