They're scoring plenty of runs, hitting for power and getting solid performances from their starting rotation. The Cleveland Indians look nothing like they did last season when they finished near the bottom of the AL Central.
The division-leading Indians look to extend their longest winning streak in three seasons to nine on Tuesday night in Anaheim, where they'll try for another victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
With AL co-player of the week Asdrubal Cabrera and first baseman Matt LaPorta both going deep in Monday's 4-0 series-opening win over Anaheim, the Indians (8-2) already have five multihomer games this season. It took Cleveland 40 contests to reach that total last season, when it finished 69-93 and hit 128 homers, 11th in the AL.
The Indians, off to their best start since opening 11-1 in 2002, are averaging 5.6 runs in 2011 - 1.6 more per game than last year.
"It helps to have a lead and have some margin for error,' said manager Manny Acta. "That's something we didn't have very often here last year. But we have a better lineup this year and that helps everybody.'
So does their outstanding starting pitching. Mitch Talbot threw eight-plus innings of five-hit ball Monday, marking the seventh time during the winning streak that an Indians starter has lasted at least six innings while allowing three runs or fewer.
The club's starters are 6-0 with a 1.55 ERA during this stretch.
The Indians' starting pitchers were 25th in the majors with a 4.54 ERA in 2010.
Cleveland, 4-0 on the road for the first time since opening 6-0 in 1998, last won nine straight overall during a 10-0 stretch Aug. 17-27, 2008.
Fausto Carmona (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will try to help the team continue its run as he looks to build off a 1-0 victory over Boston on Thursday when he threw seven innings of two-hit ball.
That performance came six days after the right-hander surrendered a career-high 10 runs and 11 hits in three innings of a 15-10 opening-day loss to the White Sox.
Carmona is 0-2 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts against Los Angeles.
The Angels (5-5) will give the ball to Dan Haren (2-0, 1.15), who had his start pushed back one day after throwing a perfect inning of relief and picking up the win in Saturday's 6-5, 14-inning victory over Toronto. Haren was the ninth Angels pitcher of the game, snapping his string of 203 consecutive starts.
"He's all about the team,' said manager Mike Scioscia. "The last thing any of us want to do is to have to use a starter in between starts - especially after the way Dan pitched the last time."
In his last outing, the right-hander went 7 2-3 innings and gave up one run and four hits in Wednesday's 5-1 win at Tampa Bay.
Haren has gone at least seven innings while allowing one run and striking out six in each of his first two starts.
This will be his first start in Anaheim this season. Haren went 4-3 with a 2.08 ERA in nine home starts in 2010 after being acquired from Arizona on July 25.
He is 2-2 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts versus Cleveland.
Cabrera, 1 for 7 with two strikeouts against Haren, already has one more homer this season (4) than in 381 at_bats in 2010.
Angels newcomer Vernon Wells was hitless in four at_bats Monday and is batting .091 with no homers.
Cleveland didn't win its second road series last season until May 12.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved