Indians heating up during the dog days

Indians heating up during the dog days

Indians heating up during the dog days
CLEVELAND -- The tailspin that the Indians experienced in June and July is beginning to feel like a distant memory. Cleveland is certainly hoping that is precisely what those two months become when it is all said and done.

The calendar has flipped to August and the Tribe finds itself in the middle of a fight to the finish with the Tigers and White Sox for the American League Central crown. Of late, the Indians have shown signs of life, giving the club plenty of hope for their chances in the stretch run to October.

"There's a lot of signs of how we played in April," Indians closer Chris Perez said.

Perez, of course, was referring to the strong start to the season that helped put Cleveland in its current position: three games behind Detroit for first place, entering Sunday. The Indians stormed to a 30-15 record through May 23 behind strong pitching and an offense that did just enough and showed resilience.

Over the past nine games, the Indians have gone 6-3 as a team with a 2.80 staff ERA and 5.1 runs per game from the offense. It is a small sample size, but it is a sound improvement over June and July, when Cleveland compiled a 21-32 record in its fall from first place.

"In June and July, we were just in a slump," Perez said. "Our schedule wasn't easy, we were in a slump and it seemed like our pitcher would go out there and give up two runs and we'd score one. Or our offense would get five runs and we'd give up six."

The Indians have also seen a handful of its hitters begin to turn things around. Carlos Santana, who has had an inconsistent campaign, has hit .333 with three homers and 12 RBIs over his last nine games. Rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis -- after a slow start in his first taste of the bigs -- has hit .333 with six homers over his last 12 games.

Cleveland also brought in reinforcements before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome -- acquired from the Cubs -- has hit .333 over his past nine games. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez -- landed in a blockbuster deal with the Rockies -- has given the Tribe another strong rotation arm.

The Indians also received star right fielder Shin-Soo Choo back from the 15-day disabled list earlier this week.

"I think that everybody's been waiting to get back on that little roll," Perez said, "and start playing that good baseball and get some breaks. Now, it's like we can kind of see that light at the end of the tunnel. September is right around the corner."