The Cleveland Indians have not had the start to this MLB season they and many prognosticators may have thought after coming off a playoff appearance last season, but having won three straight games, they are beginning to look like a team that can make a serious postseason run.
The Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins 9-4 behind Justin Masterson‘s second straight solid pitching performance at Progressive Field on Thursday. Masterson went 6.1 innings, allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks as he struck out seven. The victory is the Indians’ fifth in seven games and is part of a streak that has seen the club score 35 runs in that time period.
The Indians have an offense that has struggled this season with only a .232 team average, but having this recent run of scoring success could prove to be the turning point in the season. The pitching is there with Masterson leading the way as the ace. Zach McAllister leads the starting rotation with a 3.18 ERA, and John Axford has been a reliable closer with nine saves in 11 chances. Although Axford has not been lights-out, he has shown in the past he can be counted on. The starting rotation also has two stars-in-the-making with Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. Kluber has been solid with a 3.60 ERA, leads the team with 48 strikeouts and will only benefit more with the offense looking like it is heating up. Salazar has given up more runs than most expected at this point in the season, but he is averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings and definitely has the stuff to become a front-line starter.
The Indians may not be able to catch up to the very hot Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, but if the offense continues to flourish and the starting rotation and bullpen continue to impress, the team will definitely be in the running for a Wild Card spot.