Inside The Wigwam

By: T.J. Zuppe

Cleveland Indians (4-2) vs. Seattle Mariners (2-4) – Safeco Field

Friday: RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-1 – 9.45) vs. RHP Jason Vargas (0-0 – 1.35) – 10:10PM ET

Saturday: RHP Justin Masterson (1-0 – 1.29) vs. RHP Doug Fister (0-1 – 3.18) – 9:10PM ET

Sunday: RHP Josh Tomlin (1-0 – 1.29) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (0-1 – 5.40) – 4:10PM ET

Choo-Choo Train Derailed – For Now

Indians Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo

Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has not started 2011 on the right foot. He is only hitting .083, with one home run and two driven in.

His 2-24 success rate is very surprising considering the Tribe’s fast 4-2 start. Yet, no one is too worried.

Choo is too good to go much longer without picking up. In fact, slow starts are not a foreign subject to the multi-talented outfielder.

Last season, he began the year 2-18. He then mixed in a 3-21 stretch. But at year’s end, Choo had terrorized pitching to the tune of a .300 batting average, 22 home runs and 90 driven in, on top of 22 stolen bases.

Everything is under the microscope to begin the season. If he were to have only two hits in 24 at bats in July, his batting average might dip from .310 to .300, and his poor stretch would go mostly unnoticed.

It just becomes glaring when he strolls to the plate early in the year, and the scoreboard reads .083.

Pen Picking Up Where They Left Off

The men coming out of the bullpen can often become the most important part of a club. That has held true for the Indians, over the last decade.

As the pen righted itself in the second half, so did the Tribe’s ability to stay in ballgames. In 2011, the relievers have already played a big role in the opening homestand.

Left-handed set-up man Rafael Perez has already worked out of some big jams, none bigger than Thursday’s affair with the Boston Red Sox. He cleaned up a mess started by right-hander Chad Durbin, and managed to keep the game scoreless, before picking up his second win of the campaign.

He has not been the only arm to pitch well. The unit as a whole has held opponents to a .191 average through the first six games.

They are currently fifth in the American League in bullpen ERA, checking in at 3.79.

They have been able to give manager Manny Acta both length and matchup options. If that continues with regularity, do not be surprised by the success it brings the rest of the team.

Smith, Sizemore Still On the Mend

Indians Outfielder Grady Sizemore

Outfielder Grady Sizemore and right-handed pitcher Joe Smith will continue their minor league rehab with Class-AA Akron. Next up for the duo will be Saturday’s contest with Binghamton, at 1:05 in Canal Park.

Both participated in the Aeros game on Thursday. Sizemore, recovering from surgery on his left knee, played centerfield, going 1-3. He logged seven innings in the ballgame and recorded one put-out in the outfielder.

Smith, who has been battling an abdominal strain, pitched a scoreless inning, retiring the side in order. He struck out two batters, throwing 16 pitches in total.

Battling the Mariners

The Seattle Mariners got the best of the Cleveland Indians in 2010, beating the Tribe in the head-to-head matchup, four games to three. The team was able to play better at Safeco, splitting four on the road.

Right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco has never faced the M’s and will get the ball on Friday night.

Pitchers Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin each faced Seattle once in 2010.

Masterson gave up one hit over six innings of work, on August 15th against the Mariners. He did not pick up a decision in the game at Progressive Field.

Tomlin notched a win on September 2nd, working six innings, surrendering three runs. He scattered seven hits at Safeco field.

All three are set to face the Mariners over the weekend.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe


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