Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 5/13/13
CLEVELAND -- Mondays doubleheader didnt end the way the Indians wanted, but they got a good start, which continued a trend of recent good starts.By their starting pitchers.Note the clever start allusion.Except its no illusion when it comes to the Indians starters.Yes, that is quite enough.But not from the starters. Because the perceived weakness of the Cleveland Indians heading into the season has been a key to its recent success.With Justin Masterson throwing a complete-game shutout in the opener and Trevor Bauer giving up just two earned runs in six-plus innings in the second game, Indians starters went 15 23 innings and gave up just two three runs, two earned, to the Yankees.Which isnt half bad.Go back to the last doubleheader, a day-night split in Kansas City on April 28. The Indians were blown out in the first game 9-0, but something happened between games. Because since the starters have been better than good.Among the numbers:--An 11-3 record in 16 starts.--An ERA by the starters in those 16 games of 2.89.--Only two games of 16 when the starters gave up more than three runs -- Kluber gave up eight to Detroit last Friday, Masterson gave up five to Minnesota last week. In all the others the Indians starters gave up three runs or fewer.--Dismiss the two nights Masterson and Kluber struggled, and in the other 4 starts, the ERA is 1.95.Go down the list. Masterson in that time is 2-0 with a 3.17 ERA. Zach McAllister 2-0 and 1.74. Ubaldo Jimenez is 3-0 and 1.45, Scott Kazmir 2-0 and 2.25 and Bauer 1-1 and 1.59.Managers talk about quality starts and keeping the team in the game and giving the team a chance to win thats what the Indians starters have done the last 16 games.Not coincidentally, the Indians are 13-3 in those games.Monday, the Indians scored one run in two games, but won one of the games because their first-game starter was so good.Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do, manager Terry Francona said. They loaded up with their lefties and from the very first pitch of the game he had power, he had a breaking ball, he attacked hitters.Not only did Masterson win a 1-0 game -- the Indians only run was on Jason Kipnis home run -- they saved their bullpen, a Francona priority.In the second game, Bauer gave up an early unearned run, then shut the Yankees down until giving up two in the seventh. But reliever Nick Hagadone was the one who struggled, not Bauer.You know what he keeps them off the scoreboard, Francona said of Bauer.Which is pretty much the idea.Theres so much to like about him, and hes still developing, Francona said. But even in the midst of that coming up like he does isnt the easiest thing to do and he gives us a chance every time he pitches.Pitching coach Mickey Callaway has worked with all the starters -- especially Ubaldo Jimenez -- on mechanics and some common sense logic. He attributes the recent success to one factor hes emphasized.I think theyre just pounding the zone, Callaway said over the weekend in Detroit, which means before Mastersons shutout.He meant throwing good pitches for strikes and getting ahead in the count. Yankees second game starter Vidal Nuno -- a former Indians draft pick -- did that and was able to shut the Indians out for five innings. Francona called it pitching 101.Against the Indians entire staff, opponents are hitting .262 (.872 OPS) after a 2-1 count, and .310 (1.224) after a 3-0 count. Reverse it and opponents are hitting .130 (.349 OPS) after the count is 0-2, and .155 (.453) after its 1-2.If you pound the zone, get ahead, then youre gonna have success, Callaways said. The stuffs always been there for all of them. They got to go out there and do it, pound the zone. When they do it, theyll be good.And when theyre good, the Indians have a chance -- and feel pretty good about themselves even after losing the second game of a doubleheader.Add another win to the column, Nick Swishers said. Three games in 36 hours, win two out of those three I dont feel bad about that.
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