May 14, 2008

Tribe After 40

The remarkable streak by the Indians' starting pitchers continued tonight with a complete game shutout by C.C. Sabathia.

Six days ago Paul Byrd got knocked around by the Yankees in a 6-3 loss. In the six games since then, Tribe starting pitchers have given up a total of one run, and tonight stretched their streak of consecutive scoreless innings by starters to 43. Somehow they even managed to lose a game during that stretch, when the bullpen failed after Cliff Lee had pitched nine shutout innings, but the strength of the rotation is beginning to compensate for the club's frustrating lack of offense in the early going.

It's a long season of course, but if there's a better starting rotation in the AL, they'll have to prove it to me. All this has been going on with the #3 guy, Jake Westbrook on the DL, as Aaron Laffey has been putting up zeros in his stead. The stellar defense of late has been a little bit surprising, but I guess pitching like this tends to inspire the guys playing behind the mound.

I'm not sure what the official stats say, but it seems like offensive in general is down this year so far. The disappointing Tigers, who were supposed to have a lineup to rival the '27 Yankees, have already been shut out six times, and no individual player in the league is close to the kind of offensive production that A-Rod put up last Spring. That's just two isolated factoids which don't prove my sense is correct, but I don't think I'm imagining a trend toward fewer runs being scored league-wide.

Scheduling may be playing a part in the Indians' recent climb. They have now played ten more home games than road games in 2008, and even though both the home and road records are one game over .500 at the moment, the road is always the tougher grind. But despite stumbling out of the gate, the Tribe arrived in a tie for first place in the Central after tonight's win, just as they reached the 40 game mark of the 2008 season. Peerless Triblogger Paul Cousineau has a more detailed look at the Indians at the quarter pole.

UPDATE 5/16: I heard Tom Hamilton on the Indians' radio broadcast yesterday say that, in the AL so far this year, runs scored are down 8% and home runs are down 20%. That, and Al's comment are enough evidence for me.

Posted by dan at May 14, 2008 9:13 PM