We’re still not yet through even one fifth of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, so needless to say, there’s plenty of time for teams to play up or down to their expected levels. But suffice it to say, the expectations surrounding the Cleveland Indians’ season have dramatically changed following their impressive 20-8 start to the new year.
Thanks to a three-run ninth inning on Tuesday night, Cleveland extended its winning streak to seven games with a 4-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. After defeating the divisional rival Texas Rangers in dramatic fashion on Monday, the A’s offense looked out of sorts and dormant in the opener of a three-game set with the American League’s leading team. Oakland mustered just one run on five hits in the 4-1 defeat, as Indians starter Fausto Carmona pitched eight masterful innings for his third win of the year.
As punchless as the A’s offense was, Oakland still had a chance to win an ugly game on Tuesday thanks to the non-spectacular but effective outing by Tyson Ross. Filling in for the injured Dallas Braden, Ross again picked up a no-decision despite pitching well enough to win. In his last start, Ross threw seven shutout innings against the Angels but was not credited with a win. On Tuesday, he wasn’t quite as effective, allowing one run on eight hits over six innings. He walked none and struck out three.
With the score knotted at 1-1 in the ninth, Orlando Cabrera broke the tie with an RBI single against Brian Fuentes in his one at-bat of the evening. Fuentes (1-3) gave up four hits and three earned runs before being yanked in favor of David Purcey who recorded the final two outs of the decisive frame. It was the fourth straight win for the Tribe in their final at-bat. Impressive.
Not so impressive -- at least in the minds of most A's fans -- was the decision to have Fuentes pitch for the third straight night. Manager Bob Geren opted to give the ball to Fuentes yet again on Tuesday despite the fact that Funetes had pitched in three of the four games against Texas -- two of which were pressure-packed situations that had to have taken something out of Fuentes.
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