At the top of the list of highlights for the Tribe this season has been their astounding success against former Cy Young Award-winning pitchers. So far this season, the Indians have had the unfortunate luck of having to face members of this elite class in more than one out of every five games they’ve played. In those seven match ups, they have produced some astounding results, dealing losses to six of those pitchers and slapping them with a colossal 8.10 combined ERA.They’ve tagged them for a whopping 33 earned runs on 52 hits, including 9 home runs, dealing the pitchers a dismal average game score of 37.
If those numbers don’t already make your jaw drop, there’s more.
The pitchers have lasted an average of less than 5 1/3 innings against the Indians. The Wahoos have scored a total of 54 runs in games started by a Cy Young winner this year, an average of 7.71 per game. And here’s my favorite part: five different starters in the Tribe’s rotation have earned wins against them. Trevor Bauer, Scott Kazmir, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach McAllister each beat a pitcher that was once named the best in the league, and Justin Masterson became the first pitcher in baseball history to defeat both reigning Cy Young champs in the first week of the season.
The Indians have had incredible success against some of the game’s best pitchers, making them look like replacement level players. Here’s a brief look at the games the Indians have played against them this year.
- Indians vs. Blue Jays
Justin Masterson defeats R.A. Dickey at Rogers Centre, 4-1
The Indians scored 4 runs (three earned) against the reigning NL Cy Young Winner, turning a quality start into a loss thanks to a great opposing performance by Justin Masterson and a few passed balls by catcher J.P. Arencibia. Dickey walked four batters that night and served up a home run to Asdrubal Cabrera, en route to an opening day victory for the Tribe.
- Indians vs. Rays
Justin Masterson defeats David Price at Tropicana Field, 13-0
The Indians had trouble against lefties in 2012, but this game proved that such issues were a thing of the past. Mark Reynolds had his first multi-homer game as an Indian, including one against Price. 8 runs on 10 hits chased Price out after 5 innings of work, and a sparkling set of scoreless innings from Justin Masterson helped put a lopsided defeat in the books.
- Indians vs. White Sox
The only loss to a Cy Young winner so far this year came against Jake Peavy in game 3 of the year’s first series against the Sox. Brett Myers had his first good start of the year, going six innings and giving up only two runs on a homer to Paul Konerko. Unfortunately, Peavy was nearly unstoppable, allowing only one run over seven innings while striking out eleven Indians. The home team lost a home game for the first time in 2013.
- Indians vs. Phillies
Zach McAllister defeats Roy Halladay at Progressive Field, 14-2
A superb outing from Zach McAllister was overshadowed by an explosive offensive show by the Tribe’s bats. The Indians chased two-time Cy Young winner Halladay out before he could complete the fourth inning, after he had posted solid numbers in his three prior outings. Three two-run homers and an RBI single put eight runs on the board, and four more home runs after Halladay’s departure sealed another lopsided win.
- Indians vs. Phillies
Trevor Bauer defeats Cliff Lee at Progressive Field, 6-0
Cliff Lee’s first outing against his old team was spoiled by Trevor Bauer’s first victory with his new one. As in his previous outing, Bauer made us nervous by walking an alarming number of batters, but ended up going five scoreless innings while his offense scored four earned runs on an unusual number of infield hits against Lee. Lee won his Cy Young Award with the Indians back in 2008, but couldn’t stifle his former team in his return to Progressive Field.
- Indians vs. Athletics
Scott Kazmir defeats Bartolo Colon at Progressive Field, 9-2
Another former Indian failed to hold off his old team last week, as the Tribe scored 6 runs on eights hits in four innings, including 2 long balls. Kazmir, meanwhile, continued his string of improvements and gave the fans a dazzling show, striking out two batters in each of five different innings. He went six innings and gave up only one run, a homer to Josh Donaldson. The Tribe completed a sweep of the Oakland Athletics.
- Indians vs. Tigers
Ubaldo Jimenez defeats Justin Verlander at Comerica Park, 7-6
In one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve experienced as an Indians fan, Ubaldo Jimenez gave up only one run over six innings against one of the most dangerous offenses in baseball. He earned his third straight victory for the first time since putting on an Indians uniform. Meanwhile, the offense scored three earned runs off of one of the best pitchers in baseball. They drove his pitch count up to 110 after five innings, ending his night early. The bullpen faltered a bit, but they managed to hang on thanks to one of the most impressive defensive plays I’ve ever seen, a behind the back toss by Jason Kipnis to get the second out in the ninth inning.
The Indians have done great against an elite class of pitchers, and proven that their revitalized offense has what it takes to win a world championship. If they can give this kind of performance on a more consistent basis, the rest of the AL Central is in for a tough pennant race.