OAKLAND -- The Indians' bullpen was billed as the team's strength coming into this season, but a rough start to the year had some questioning the group's ability to maintain its previous pace. The cast known as the Bullpen Mafia have since shown signs of life.
"It was a matter of time," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Everybody here in this clubhouse and in every clubhouse is going to have some rough times when you play 162 games. They struggled the first few games, but these guys have been good for over a year here. They're healthy and they're going to be OK.
"We trust that those guys are going to continue to be the strength of our ballclub. There's no reason why they wouldn't be. They have good arms. They have different arm angles, different ways to attack guys. I trust those guys."
Entering Sunday's game against the A's, Cleveland's bullpen had combined to allow just one run over its last 16 2/3 innings (0.54 ERA), covering the team's last five games. Prior to that strong stretch, the Indians' relief corps had posted a 6.51 ERA through eight games, allowing 27 earned runs across 37 1/3 innings.
In the first three games of the season, Indians relievers combined to allow 12 runs over 15 innings.
The early eight-game span included three extra-inning games, including one on April 14 in which starter Jeanmar Gomez only logged two innings. Acta was not about to blame those unique circumstances for the bullpen's struggles at the start of this season.
"Life is the way it is -- not the way you want it to be," Acta said. "You need to get in, grab the ball and it's 60 feet, 6 inches. None of us can handpick how the game is going to play out. They were good last year in extra-inning games, too.
"The bottom line is they struggled in the first three or four games. Not every game is going to be nine innings, or up by three in the sixth."