Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/18/12
The Indians came into the season believing the strength of the team would be their pitching staff. Nine games into the season that's the way it has played out, although the work of the pitchers was somewhat overshadowed by the hitters in the Indians' three-game weekend sweep in Kansas City. The Indians scored 32 runs and batted .333 while collecting nine doubles and seven home runs in the Kansas City. They followed it up with nine more runs last night in Seattle. However, before the Kansas City series, the Indians' offense was very quiet in the first five games. The starting pitching, however, has been very consistent throughout the eight games. In those games, Indians starters are a combined 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA. Leading the way have been right-handers Justin Masterson and Derek Lowe. Lowe in his first two starts is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA. Ubaldo Jimenez has made two starts and is 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA. Jeanmar Gomez has made one start, but it lasted only two innings, because he was ejected from the game for intentionally throwing at a batter. In those two innings Gomez gave up one run on no hits, with no walks or strikeouts. The only starter who has struggled has been Josh Tomlin. In his one start, he only lasted five innings and gave up four runs on seven hits, although he did strikeout seven. He made one relief appearance, which wasn't any better, so in his two appearances he has an 8.31 ERA. While the starters have been pretty good, the bullpen is a different story. The relievers were the team's strength last year, and with all the key pitchers back this season it was expected to be a strength again. But the relievers have struggled, going 1-2 with a 6.55 ERA. Left-handers Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez have both gotten off to bad starts, posting ERAs of 13.50 and 7.36, respectively. Closer Chris Perez blew his first save opportunity of the season and has an ERA of 7.36, while newcomer Dan Wheeler's ERA is 8.10 in his first four appearances. Those numbers figure to improve in time, because those pitchers all have track records of success at the major league level. But for now, the Indians' starting pitchers are performing as expected, but the relievers so far have been well below expectations. Brantley makes up a lot of ground on the road --OF Michael Brantley has rebounded nicely from his disastrous season-opening homestand. Brantley was 1-for-17 (.059) in his first four games of the season. But he was one of many Indians hitters who had a big series in the weekend sweep of the Royals in Kansas City. In those three games, Brantley batted .353, going 6-for-17 with two doubles, a triple and three RBI. --2B Jason Kipnis leads the Indians in home runs and RBI, despite having a batting average of only .188. Kipnis is 6-for-32, but four of those six hits have gone for extra bases. He has three home runs, one triple and seven RBI. --RHP Ubaldo Jimenez's first two starts were a study in contrasts. In his first start, he pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on one hit, while throwing 95 pitches. In his second start, Sunday in Kansas City, Jimenez lasted only five innings, giving up four runs on nine hits while throwing 112 pitches. "He just didn't make good pitches and he understands that," manager Manny Acta said of Jimenez's start vs. Kansas City. --INF Jose Lopez is batting .222, but that's the best of any of the Indians' four bench players, who haven't contributed much in the first eight games of the season. Lopez does have one home run and three RBI. INF Jason Donald is batting .200, C Lou Marson is at .125 and OF Aaron Cunningham is hitting .122. --OF Shin-Soo Choo has been hit by pitches three times in 41 plate appearances this season. None of the Indians other hitters have been hit by a pitch in a combined 357 plate appearances. BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- Home runs hit by the Indians this season, which ties them for the American League lead. The last time the Indians led the league in home runs for a full season was 1995. QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a long season, and three or four games shouldn't change anyone's mind about how a team is going to perform for 162 games." -- Manager Manny Acta, on the Indians' up-and-down start to the season. Roster ReportMEDICAL WATCH: --OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He might be able to return as soon as he is eligible. --LHP David Huff (right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. The timetable for his return was unknown. --RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.
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