The Cleveland Indians appear to have started to right the ship after a tough start of the season that saw them go 11-17 in the month of April. Key hitters were not producing, injuries were an issue and the pitching was a huge question mark. Now 13 days into May, the team is back to 18-20, and after taking two of three out from the Tampa Bay Rays, things appear heading up for the Tribe.
Another key factor is the contribution from players who have stepped up while others have been dealing with injuries. Mike Aviles has been huge since the injury to Jason Kipnis, who still may miss another 2-4 weeks with an oblique injury. Aviles has pushed his average to .312 with two homers and 10 RBIs. He was one of the key players in taking five of seven games in series against the Minnesota Twins and Rays.
Aviles isn’t the only one who has had a factor in wins, as outfielder Nyjer Morgan has infused energy and excitement into the team. He had a huge game on Sunday in the win over the Rays, going 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs playing left field. Morgan has been a welcome addition with the injuries to Michael Bourn, and the two of them together can reek havoc on the playing field.
Two other players who have had big moments in the last two seasons off the Indians’ bench are Ryan Rabun and Jason Giambi, and both will be heard from at some point this season. Raburn is hitting just .176, but he has started to put better swings on the ball. Giambi is on the DL, but when the team will need him later in the year in a big moment, he will show up.
The bench has been a huge part of the success of the team since Terry Francona took over at the start of last season. If the club wants a return to the postseason, they will need them to keep playing well while others will have their shot at some point in 2014.