CHICAGO -- There is one aspect of the Indians' roster over which manager Manny Acta does not lose much sleep. "Our bullpen," Acta said. "It's never been a worry of mine." That includes early on this season, when Cleveland's relief corps experienced some uncharacteristic struggles. Acta insisted through it all that he was never concerned, and the Tribe's relievers have since come through with evidence that supports the manager's ease.
Entering Thursday, the Indians' "Bullpen Mafia" was riding a streak of 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over the team's past six games. During that span, Indians relievers had piled up 16 strikeouts against three walks and opposing batters had just a .060 (3-for-50) average. Since April 17, the Tribe's relief corps has turned a 1.74 ERA (eight earned runs in 41 1/3 innings) with a .170 (25-for-147) opponents' batting average across 14 games. Prior to that showing, the bullpen posted a 6.51 ERA (27 earned runs in 37 1/3 innings) with a .280 (42-for-150) opponents' average in the club's first eight games. The bullpen had a 4.00 ERA as a group, entering Thursday, and the Indians boasted records of 8-2, 9-1 and 9-1, respectively, when leading after six, seven or eight innings. "They're going to go through some tough spells here and there just like everybody else," Acta said. "But not even after that first homestand was there ever a doubt in my mind that those guys weren't going to be good for us. They have been a big part of what has happened here. "It's been pretty consistent that, once we take the lead after the sixth inning, we have a chance to win the ballgame."