CLEVELAND — A rotation that was a huge question mark to start the season has provided the answer more times than not for the Indians this year. As of late, it has raised the bar, posting an 8-2 record and 1.79 ERA over the last 16 games.
“For the most part, guys are attacking the strike zone better,” manager Terry Francona said.
Cleveland’s starting staff has been surprisingly solid for much of the season, but now it’s getting consistent top-shelf performances from nearly every member — Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir — at a key point in the year.
“It’s a good competition,” Jimenez said. “You don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t compete. I think that’s what every starter wants.”
Jimenez followed Masterson to the mound Sunday to help the Indians notch their second consecutive shutout and complete a three-game sweep of the Rangers.
“They’ve got some good hitters over there, so our pitchers are obviously doing something right,” first baseman Nick Swisher said. “We’ve said all along that if we get good starting pitching, we’re going to win some games.”
Mark Reynolds was in the middle of much of the Indians’ early season success. Now, he’s on the bench.
Thanks to an extended slump — .153 (6-for-53) without an extra-base hit and just one RBI over his last 17 games since June 29 — Reynolds has not started since Wednesday.
He has already struck out 117 times in 322 at-bats over 94 games to go with 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .214 batting average.
Meanwhile, Swisher, who has scuffled for much of the season, is picking up the pace at the plate, collecting hits in 17 of his last 23 games, while batting .292 (26-for-89) with four homers and eight RBIs over the span.
Cleveland Police released more information regarding the incident involving Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers, who said he was attacked in downtown Cleveland on Thursday night.
According to police, Scheppers was involved in a “physical altercation” at Panini’s on West 6th Street, with a witness saying Scheppers was in a bar fight. The right-hander claimed Friday that he was jumped and “sucker-punched” as he walked to dinner by a group of white males that ran away and did not rob him.
According to police, Scheppers, who sustained facial bruises, refused medical attention and did not file a report. He pitched in the final game of the series Sunday.
The Indians continue their homestand with a four-game series against the White Sox that begins tonight at 7:05.
Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.57 ERA) opens the set, opposing LHP John Danks (2-8. 4.81), while Kazmir
(6-4, 3.96) goes for Cleveland on Tuesday (7:05 p.m.). Chicago is scheduled to start Jake Peavy
(8-4, 4.28), but the right-hander has been the subject of recent trade rumors.
Kluber (7-5, 3.74) starts for the Indians on Wednesday (7:05 p.m.) against LHP Jose Quintana (5-3, 3.55), while Masterson (12-7, 3.42) squares off against LHP Chris Sale (6-10, 2.69) in the series finale Thursday at 12:05 p.m.
Prized prospect Francisco Lindor is off to a blazing start at Double-A Akron. Entering Sunday, he was batting .381 (16-for-42) with a homer and seven RBIs in 12 games since being promoted from High Class A Carolina.
Indians catcher Yan Gomes is batting .368 (14-for-38) with a homer and four RBIs over his last 10 games. He had three hits Sunday, the sixth time he’s done that this season.
* Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus has reached base in the first 37 games of his career against the Indians.
It is the longest streak ever by a Rangers player against one team and the third-longest in big league history against one team since 1900.