After giving up 23 runs in their first two games, Indians pitchers haven't allowed more than four runs in any of the eight games since. Not coincidentally, the Indians have won all eight of those games. The Cleveland staff has not only been stingy with runs, but have a fine 70:33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a dramatic departure in both directions from last year's totals. Another important statistic: Only one unearned run for the entire staff. In other words, run prevention has been outstanding across the board.
Mitch Talbot joined the pitching party last night, shutting down the Angels over eight innings. He struck out seven and allowed just two earned runs his last time out, but he only made it through 4.1 innings. This time, he was much more efficient with his pitches, striking out fewer hitters but pitching into the ninth. With an off-day coming on Thursday, Talbot's long outing will allow Manny Acta to make full use of the back end of the bullpen in the last two games of this series.
During most of this eight-game win streak, the offense has been paced by players deemed complementary contributors at the beginning of the season. The leaders in OPS so far: Asdrubal Cabrera (1.014), Travis Hafner (.992), Orlando Cabrera (.872), and Matt LaPorta (.844). The two players expected to carry the Tribe offense, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana, rank last among Cleveland regulars in OPS. Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt LaPorta's starts are especially encouraging; the two young players had very disappointing seasons in 2010, and Indians really don't have backup plans if either of then struggle.
It was Asdrubal and Matt who provided the offense last night; Cabrera hit a first inning homer to center field, and LaPorta hit an opposite-field three-run home run the next inning. The home runs came at the expense of Angels starter Tyler Chatwood, who was making his major league debut. The right-hander couldn't spot his pitches, walking four in five innings, and also leaving several low-90s fastballs up in the zone.
The Indians didn't score again after LaPorta's home run, but thanks to Talbot and Vinnie Pestano, that didn't matter.