When the Indians beat the Seattle Mariners last night, 12-3, and the Tampa Bay Rays rallied for five in the ninth to beat the White Sox 9-7, Cleveland found itself alone atop the AL Central, a full game up on Chicago and the Kansas City Royals and two up on the Twins and the Tigers.
Cleveland will try to make the most of the rarefied air and win their sixth straight game tonight at 9:10 when they take on the Mariners in the middle game of their three-game weekend set in the Pacific Northwest.
Justin Masterson (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who gave the Indians their first win of the season last Sunday against the White Sox, thereby igniting a streak that has seen every member of the rotation except for Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot get a victory in their turn — Carmona, of course, getting a no-decision in the 1-0 victory over Boston on Thursday and Talbot pitching into the fifth and not eligible for the victory in a win over the Red Sox — will get the start for The Good Guys against Seattle’s Doug Fister (0-1, 3.18 ERA), who gave up three runs — two earned — in 5 2/3 innings worked against Oakland on April 3 in a 7-1 A’s victory.
Fister comes in with a career mark of 9-19 in 40 games, all but one of which have been starts. Fister gives up a long ball about once every ten innings, but will be hard-pressed against an Indians’ offense that broke out with a ten-run, ten-hit fourth inning last night, and saw a solo homer from Asdrubal Cabrera in the first and a three-run blast from Travis Hafner in the fourth before the offense relaxed.
Seattle is in danger of falling far behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West before the season is two weeks along. Already the Mariners are four and-a-half games back of Texas, and — with the Rangers having been to the World Series last year — Seattle has to know that Texas is not a flash in the pan.
The 17-hit attack last night raised the Indians’ team batting average from .264 to .289, in another example of how fluid stats are early in a season.
That is not to say that we aren’t all hoping for a repeat of last night, maybe getting that average up over .300.
After all, when your team is on a five-game roll and is in first place, whether it be April or whether it be September — it is a time to dream, and begin to consider, even if tentatively…a miracle season.