Gloves key Tribe improvement
Last year, only three American League teams made more errors than the Indians. So far this year, no team has made fewer errors than the Indians. That's single biggest reason for Cleveland's fast start this season, according to manager Manny Acta.
The Indians' eight-game winning streak ended Tuesday night in a 2-0 loss to the Angels, but Cleveland once again did not make an error. The Indians lead the majors with a .990 fielding percentage. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Philadelphia are tied for the big-league lead with four errors.
The improved defense has been keyed by two new additions: second baseman Orlando Cabrera and third baseman Jack Hannahan. In particular, Hannahan has been a vast defensive improvement at third base, which was a defensive disaster last season for the team.
Acta said the organization went into the last offseason with one of its goals being to improve the defense. The feeling was that better defense would help bolster the pitching staff, and that's exactly what's happened.
The Indians are sixth in the American League with a 3.49 ERA after Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Angels. That's significantly better than the club's 4.30 ERA of last year, which ranked 11th in the AL.
The infield defense and pitching go hand-in-hand because of the makeup of the rotation. Cleveland has a preponderance of sinkerball pitchers who induce a lot of groundballs. Many of those grounders were not turned into outs last year. This year, the infield is getting the job done.
--OF Shin-Soo Choo, who has the lowest batting average of any Indians regular, .190, had Cleveland's only hit in a 2-0 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night. Choo singled off RHP Dan Haren in the fourth inning. Choo has a career .125 (1-for-8) batting average vs. Haren, who walked two and struck out eight in the complete-game shutout.
--RHP Fausto Carmona has beaten every team in the American League but one, and that team topped him again Tuesday night. That would be the Angels. Carmona pitched into the eighth inning, but he was the losing pitcher in a 2-0 Indians loss. In eight career appearances vs. the Angels, Carmona is 0-3 despite an excellent 2.11 ERA.
--SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who has four home runs, is the first Indians shortstop in over 50 years to hit four or more home runs in the month of April. Prior to Cabrera, the last Cleveland shortstop to hit four or more home runs in April was Woodie Held in 1960.
--C Carlos Santana was one of the Indians' best hitters in the first three games of the season, but he has struggled since then. Santana was 6-for-14 (.462) in the first three games. Since then, he is 3-for-27, and he is hitless in his last 16 at-bats.
--OF Travis Buck, who won a spot on the Opening Day roster by hitting .393 in spring training, is hitting .136 since the season started. Buck could be on the roster bubble when OF Grady Sizemore comes off the disabled list, perhaps by the end of this month.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4-0 -- The Indians' record on the road this year, prior to losing 2-0 to the Angels Tuesday night. It was the first time the Indians won their first four road games in a season since 1998.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's so early, one bad series and you fall off a cliff right away." -- Manager Manny Acta, on C Carlos Santana, who hit .462 in the first three games of the season but is now hitting .225.
--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 with Class AA Akron on April 10, and he likely will 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.