The Cleveland Indians are on one hell of a hot streak. They went 22-6 in the month of June, and tied a franchise record 13-game winning streak with last night’s victory over the Blue Jays. They beat the Jays the way they’ve been beating a lot of teams lately, by sending most of the batters who come to the plate right back to the damn dugout.
Carlos Carrasco was on the hill for the Indians last night, and he struck out 14 batters while allowing just one run in seven-and-a-third innings of work. Carrasco had a great start to the season before missing some time with a hamstring injury, and he’s picked up right where he left off since returning to the rotation. He tossed a complete-game shutout against the Tigers on June 25, and beat the White Sox with a strong outing on June 19.
Carrasco isn’t the only Indians pitcher who is really on one right now. Take a look at anyone in their rotation, and you’ll see a guy who has been nigh unhittable lately. Ace Corey Kluber stumbled a bit to start the year, but posted a 2.19 ERA in June while striking out a batter per inning. Danny Salazar is right there, too, with his 1.91 June ERA and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings. Remember when once-hot prospect Trevor Bauer was a bit of a bust and got sent to the bullpen? He’s suddenly pitching like a stud, and posted a 2.01 ERA in June. Shit, man, even soft-tossing Josh Tomlin is out here shutting people down. He’s got a 2.60 ERA over his last five starts, and now has a 9-1 record on the season.
All of this has added up to the Indians being essentially impossible to score on for an entire month. Indians starters threw 194 innings in June, and posted a league-best combined ERA of 2.50. They’ve tossed four complete games, two shutouts, and have struck out 182 batters. The Indians’ defense deserves some credit here, too. That 2.50 ERA is sparkling, but the starters’ FIP for June is a still-great but much less absurd 3.45. It’s nice to have Francisco Lindor at shortstop every day, you know?
The 13-game winning streak has carried the Indians to first place in the AL Central, and they now enjoy a six-game lead on the Kansas City Royals. It’s hard to argue that they won’t be able to stay there given the way the pitching staff and defense have been performing. Trevor Bauer could melt into a puddle at any moment, and Josh Tomlin likely won’t be able to keep winning so many games while giving up more than a homer per start, but Kluber-Salazar-Carrasco is as fearsome a trio of starting pitchers any team could ask for. As long as they keep doing what they’re doing, the Indians won’t be going anywhere.