Tribe bullpen comes through earlier than usual
The Indians went into the 2011 season thinking their bullpen was one of the team's strengths, and that proved to be the case Wednesday night in an 8-4 win over Boston, Cleveland's third victory in a row.
The biggest moment in the game came in the fifth inning, when Indians manager Manny Acta used three different pitchers to get three outs in the span of four batters, preserving a 3-2 lead.
With runners at first and third and one out, Chad Durbin relieved starter Mitch Talbot and struck out Kevin Youkillis. Rafael Perez then relieved Durbin and retired David Ortiz to end the inning without a run scoring.
The Indians like their bullpen, particularly its depth. Acta had no qualms about burning two relievers in the span of two batters in the middle of the game, thanks to the pitchers he knew he had for later in the game, if needed.
Acta said he felt the game was on the line in that fifth inning, saying that if Ortiz homered off Durbin, the Indians would be trailing. So Acta went with Perez, the left-hander, against the left-handed-hitting slugger.
The Indians have two effective left-handed relievers who are basically interchangeable: Perez and Tony Sipp. Either can be used early or late in games. Either can also be used as situational lefties, or lefties who can be left in to get multiple outs. Acta feels confident using either in any role.
Durbin is seen more a setup man, but on days when the game is hanging in the balance, Acta isn't afraid of using the right-hander prior to the eighth inning. Acta feels that way because either Perez or Sipp could also be trusted to pitch the eighth. All of that gives Acta some welcome flexibility when lining up his relievers for use in a given game.
--OF Shin-Soo Choo was in an 0-for-13 slide, and 1-for-16 for the season overall, when he belted a two-run home run in the first inning Wednesday. "That was good to see," manager Manny Acta said. "He's been contributing in other ways, but for his mental side, it was nice to see him (hit a home run)."
--OF Grady Sizemore, on the disabled list as he continues his comeback from season-ending microfracture surgery on his left knee performed last June, will begin a rehab assignment Thursday night with Class AA Akron.
--SS Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits, including a three-run home run, and four RBI on Wednesday. The four RBI are the most in a game by Cabrera since he had five against the Yankees on April 18, 2009, at New York.
--RHP Fausto Carmona is the Indians' No. 1 starter, but he had the worst start of anyone in the first turn through the rotation, giving up 10 runs on 11 hits in three innings on Opening Day against the White Sox. Carmona makes his second start of the season Thursday afternoon vs. Boston, a team against which he has a career record of 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA.
--DH Travis Hafner, who was 1-for-3 Wednesday, has been one of the Indians' most impressive hitters in the first week of the season. "It's still early, but he's driving balls and lifting balls. That's huge. We really need him in the middle of our lineup," manager Manny Acta said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Times in their first five home games that the Indians have drawn crowds of under 10,000.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We want to keep him in the lineup as much as we can, even when he's not catching." -- Manager Manny Acta, on C Carlos Santana, who also will play first base or designated hitter.