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Rotation limiting damage within rough outings

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CLEVELAND -- The collective pitching line of Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar has not been pretty in the first week of games for the Indians, but the ballclub has been encouraged by aspects of each outing from the starters.

All three pitchers experienced command issues in their first start of the season, but they each minimized the damage at a handful of turns. As a result, Cleveland was able to win two of the past three games entering Saturday.

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"It's very encouraging," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "That's the thing you have to do. When you have your mediocre stuff or your bad stuff, how you do that day, how you keep your team in that game, that defines the pitcher. They all kept our team in the game."

In the first game of a doubleheader against the A's on Wednesday, Kluber was charged with five runs in only 3 1/3 innings, ending with more walks (three) than strikeouts (two). The right-hander stranded two runners in each of the first two innings, though.

McAllister took the mound in Wednesday's second game and promptly allowed two runs in the first inning. The right-hander saw his pitch count climb to 86, and he did not have a great feel for his fastball, but stranded a pair in the first -- escaping with consecutive strikeouts -- and found a way to work into the fifth inning.

Salazar allowed two runs in the first inning on Friday and then blanked the Twins the rest of the way en route to 5 2/3 innings.

"Part of it is because they do compete. They don't give in," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think they're probably mature more than their innings show, if not their age. I think the command will certainly improve -- they're good pitchers."

McAllister agreed that the early showing is a testament to how much the members of Cleveland's rotation come to compete.

"It shows kind of how competitive we are as pitchers," McAllister said. "All of us obviously want to go out there and put up good numbers and give our team a chance to win, but when we're not doing that, we find a way to compete and execute pitches when we really need to. That's extremely important."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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