Indians' rotation rounding into form
Six games into a nine-game road trip, the Indians have reversed their record from the homestand that preceded it.
After going 2-4 on their last homestand, the Indians are 4-2 over the first two legs of a three-city road trip that will conclude with three games in Cincinnati, starting Tuesday.
The Indians won two of three games in Detroit, then won two of three games in St. Louis. The key, as it is for most teams when they are doing well, is starting pitching.
In the St. Louis series, Cleveland's rotation was outstanding. Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin combined for a 1.71 ERA, allowing four earned runs on 18 hits in 21 innings.
However, the most impressive of all the starting pitchers' numbers from the St. Louis series was this: In the three games, Cleveland starters combined to walk just one batter while striking out 14.
What makes that still more impressive is that at the start of the series, Jimenez was leading the American League in walks and Masterson was third. Too many walks and too many pitches per game have been the biggest reasons why both pitchers got off to terrible starts this season.
Until their last starts, both Masterson and Jimenez had ERAs over 5.00. But in their starts at St. Louis, both had identical pitching lines. They allowed one earned run on five hits and no walks in seven innings.
Getting Masterson and Jimenez untracked and consistently pitching well would give a great boost to the Indians in their attempt to stay in contention in the AL Central. As it is, Cleveland is in second place, just a half-game behind Chicago, and Indians officials rightfully feel the team hasn't yet played its best baseball.
Hitting streak hurts Cabrera's average
--SS Asdrubal Cabrera, in an oddity, has had a career-high hitting streak actually hurt his batting average. He has hit in 12 consecutive games, equaling his career high set in 2009, but his average has gone from .300 to .296 during the streak. Reason: He has collected just one hit in 10 of the 12 games, and two hits in the other two games. He is 14-for-49 (.286) during the streak.
--RHP Chris Perez leads the majors with 20 saves. He blew a save on Opening Day, and since then has converted 20 consecutive save opportunities, the third-longest streak in franchise history.
--RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, for just the sixth time in 160 career starts in the major leagues, did not walk a batter Sunday. It was the first time Jimenez didn't walk a batter since June 7, 2011, while with Colorado. Jimenez went 32 consecutive starts between walk-less games.
--3B Jack Hannahan began a rehab assignment Monday with Class AAA Columbus, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as the designated hitter. Hannahan has been on the disabled list since May 27 with a strained left calf.
--2B Jason Kipnis, who only had 24 stolen bases in 254 career games in the minor leagues, is tied for the American League lead with 15 stolen bases in 59 games this year.
BY THE NUMBERS: July 4 -- Date on which RHP Chris Perez picked up his 20th save last year. Perez picked up his 20th save this year on June 10.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What am I going to do? Call timeout and run into the dugout?" -- RHP Chris Perez, who, due to an upset stomach caused by drinking some warm water, threw up on the pitcher's mound in the ninth inning Sunday while recording his 20th save.
--DH Travis Hafner (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24. He had surgery May 31 to repair a frayed meniscus, and he will be out until late June or early July.
--3B Jack Hannahan (left calf strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 27. He had been out May 14-23 due to lower back stiffness. He was scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Class AAA Columbus on June 11.
--LHP Rafael Perez (strained left lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 26.
--OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April and took live batting practice May 16. His rehab was slowed again in early June, and there was no timetable for his return.
--RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.