By: T.J. Zuppe
Cleveland Indians (7-2) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (5-4)
Monday: RHP Mitch Talbot (0-0 – 4.15) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (NR)
Tuesday: RHP: Fausto Carmona (0-1 – 9.00) vs. RHP Dan Haren (1-0 – 1.23)
Wednesday: RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-1 – 5.68) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (0-1 – 3.68)
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
The 7-2 start for the Indians can be attributed to many things, but none bigger than what has set the tone in the center of the diamond.
Since pitcher Fausto Carmona’s opening day disaster, the Tribe has been outstanding in the pitching department. First with the starters, the rotation has an earned run average of 2.82 since game one.
In 51 innings of work, they have only given up 38 hits, including back-to-back gems by pitcher Justin Masterson.
Even better, the bullpen has been making things even easier for manager Manny Acta, seemingly shortening games to seven innings, or less.
Their ERA has been a sparkling 2.25, behind left-handers Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp. In particular, Sipp leads the American League with five holds, and closer Chris Perez has slammed the door on four saves, tying him for the league lead with Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
Right-hander Mitch Talbot will look to continue the positive vibes on the mound, as he faces the Angels, Monday night. Talbot started one game against Los Angeles last season, picking up the win.
He worked 6.1 innings, surrendering one run on six hits.
“I Have The Power”:
Acta’s squad has been receiving an unlikely power source to begin the season, in shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
After only three home runs in all of 2010, Cabrera has already reached that number. He went deep in Sunday’s 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners, his second in the series.
His three homers put him at a tie for sixth in the American League in that department. He has also driven in nine runs, good enough for fifth in the league.
For his efforts, Cabrera was named as Co-American League Player of the Week, for the second time in his career. During that week, he went 9-25, with three home runs, driving in eight.
Cabrera shared the honor with White Sox first-baseman Paul Konerko.
Not known for his run production, the middle-infielder is already halfway to his career-high in round-trippers of six, which he has achieved twice in his career (2008, 2009). His performance has been unexpected, but very pleasant at the top of the order.
Donald Joins Sizemore And Smith:
Despite the Indians hot start, the team is still not completely whole. Outfielder Grady Sizemore and right-handed pitcher Joe Smith have both been rehabbing at Class-AA Akron, without any setbacks.
Infielder Jason Donald joined the duo on Sunday, collecting one hit in three at bats. In his first rehab start, he played third base for the Aeros.
Both Sizemore and Smith were given the day off on Sunday.
All three will continue their rehab on Monday, when the Aeros welcome Altoona to Canal Park.
Need The Help?
One big reason to be optimistic about the return of Sizemore is the current play in left field.
While still too early to fully judge, the early platoon of outfielders Austin Kearns and Travis Buck has not garnered the results hoped for. The two have combined for an average of .152, driving in one run.
The combination has struck out 10 times, while only collecting a walk on three occasions.
It is likely that Sizemore, when ready, will resume his old position of center field, while Michael Brantley will shift to left. However, Brantley should continue to leadoff, while Sizemore ideally rotates between the sixth and seventh spot in the order.
The Indians will continue to be cautious with the rehabbing outfielder. The organization wants to be sure he is completely 100% before activating him from the 15-day disabled list.
He is eligible to come off the DL on the 13th of April.
Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe