Indians find success on road

   April 21, 2012 10:41 am

 

The Cleveland Indians improved to 6-1 on their current road trip after Friday night’s tense 4-3 victory over the Oakland A’s.

One of the keys to their current streak has been patience at the plate. The Indians left Progressive Field with a 1-4 record after a season-opening homestand that featured an anemic offense.

Over the past seven games, though, the Indians have vaulted to third in the American League in runs scored (68) and first in walks (66) despite having played the fewest games.

Manager Manny Acta said the team went into spring training with an emphasis on cutting down strikeouts and increasing walk totals. Here’s what Acta said Friday:

“We’ve done a very good job of keeping traffic on the bases. You put pressure on the other pitcher by doing that kind of stuff. We try to educate these guys on, when you go to the plate, you go to hit to walk, not walk to hit.”

The Indians’ offense ranked fifth in the majors last season with1,269 strikeouts, marking the most in a season in the club’s history. Heading into Saturday night’s game, the Tribe had struck out 94 times, tied for 21st in MLB. It’s a step in the right direction.

–Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett was activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday and was scheduled to make his debut for the Pirates Saturday against St. Louis.

Burnett, one of the Bucs’ top free-agent signings in the offseason, had surgery to repair a broken right orbital bone March 2 after suffering the injury in batting practice during spring training.

The right-hander made two starts with Class A Bradenton, going 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA. He surrendered five runs in four innings for Triple-A Indianapolis Monday.

The Pirates aren’t concerned about the crooked numbers Burnett yielded during his rehab. Pitch location, movement and arm slot command are what the Pirates staff was looking at from him. But it’s hard to overlook a double-digit ERA posted in the minors.

Checking out some numbers, the Pirates (5-8) appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their pitching and offense. Going into Saturday’s game, the Bucs rank last in the National League in team batting average (.201), runs scored (27), RBIs (24), etc… On the other hand, the Pirates are third in the NL in team ERA (2.73), second in hits allowed (99) and earned runs (34) and seventh in batting average against (.236). If the offense eventually catches up to the pitching and defense, Pittsburgh might finally snap that decades-old losing streak.

–Tony Battaglia

 

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