by Ken Rosenthal/Fox Sports
It’s easy to forget. On Opening Day, in the fourth inning, the Indians trailed the White Sox at home, 14-0.
The final score was 15-10, White Sox. The Indians lost the next day as well, 8-3.
“But on the third day, we got a great start from (Justin) Masterson,” Perez said. “And from that day on, it’s been quality start, quality start, quality start.”
The AL Central standings, please…
The Indians, 19-8, lead the Royals by 4-1/2 games, the Tigers by 7-1/2, the Twins and White Sox by — are you sitting down? — 10 each.
Some knucklehead will write today, “No team has ever won a division after trailing by 10 games on May 1.” True enough, according to STATS LLC. But also true: Since the inception of divisional play in 1969, 12 teams have rallied from a 10-game deficit after May 1 to win a division.
The White Sox and Twins, then, aren’t dead. The Indians, in fact, can’t possibly sustain every aspect of their success. They’re batting .319 with runners in scoring position, third best in the majors. Their rotation, too, is bound for an adjustment — its strikeout rate is the sixth lowest among the 30 clubs.
Then again, the Indians’ defense is much-improved — third baseman Jack Hannahan, a career journeyman, has been such an all-around find, the Indians might not need to rush top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. And, as with all winning clubs, the vibe on the Tribe is contagious.
“There are some people who don’t believe in team chemistry. They believe in talent. Well, we’ve got both,” veteran shortstop Adam Everett says.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s rejuvenated me personally. It reminds me back in the day, playing for the Astros, early in my career, ’04 and ’05, making those runs. We all pull for each other. We’ve got a great mix of veteran guys and young guys, and also guys in between.”
The depth of the Indians’ rotation remains the team’s biggest question — only Carmona and Masterson are anything close to proven, and righties Carlos Carrasco and Mitch Talbot already have been placed on the DL.
But Carrasco, barring a setback, will make only one rehab start Thursday before rejoining the club, and Talbot is expected to need only two rehab starts. Righty Alex White, the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2009, made a strong major-league debut Saturday, and is in position to throw 190 to 195 innings this season, if necessary.
Thus, the Indians do not plan to pursue right-hander Kevin Millwood, who opted out of his contract with the Yankees on Sunday.
Millwood, 36, won the American League ERA title and was a positive influence with the Indians in 2005. But he wants a major-league job and the Indians are not about to disrupt a good thing.
Amazing, isn’t it?