Bullpen showing mettle in marathon affairs

Bullpen showing mettle in marathon affairs

Bullpen showing mettle in marathon affairs
CLEVELAND -- When the clock strikes midnight, the Indians' bullpen seems to grow stronger.

It's always beneficial for a manager to have rubber-armed pitchers at his disposal when marathon games drag on. The Indians played three contests in August that lasted at least 14 innings. In all three, the Tribe's bullpen refused to cave.

During Wednesday's 16-inning affair, Cleveland's "Bullpen Mafia" tossed 10 scoreless frames, biding time until the team's offense scratched across the game-winning run. Even when Oakland's 'pen retired 24 consecutive Tribe hitters at one point, Cleveland's relievers held firm.

"I was thinking, 'It's going a long way, because our bullpen is pretty good, too,'" Indians skipper Manny Acta said. "As long as we kept them at bay, we had a chance."

On Aug. 9, a rain delay ended starter Justin Masterson's night after just two innings. The Cleveland 'pen then delivered 12 scoreless frames, keeping the Tigers off the board until the Indians plated the winning run shortly before 2 a.m.

A week later, the bullpen allowed just three runs in 8 2/3 innings before starter David Huff was forced to pitch in relief. He allowed a walk-off hit to the White Sox in the 14th.

Frank Herrmann has been the last man standing in two of the Tribe's three never-ending contests. The right-hander hurled two scoreless frames to earn the win on Aug. 9, and tossed four perfect innings Wednesday to pick up another victory.

"This one and the Detroit one, it's cool pitching at midnight," Herrmann said.