Five consecutive victories over the other two teams expected to contend for the AL Central title have the Cleveland Indians off to their best start since 2002.
The Indians step away from division play as they go for a sixth straight victory when they open a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday at Jacobs Field.
Cleveland’s response to a 10-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox in its season opener has been a run of five consecutive wins, two over the defending World Series champions and a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
This is the best start for Cleveland (5-1) since opening 11-1 four years ago. The Indians haven’t had a winning April since, including a 9-14 mark last season.
“We’re six games into the season,” Perez said. “But we’re getting good pitching, good fielding and guys like Travis Hafner are really hitting well.”
Hafner’s streak of safely reaching base was stopped at 11 straight at-bats Sunday and he finished 0-for-3. Still, he’s batting .391 with four homers and six RBIs and is one of five Cleveland players to have homered.
Boone is hitting .348 with one homer and six RBIs after batting .123 in April last year.
“You might say I’m having a bit more fun this April,” Boone said.
Lee will be making his second start of the season after not getting a decision in last Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the White Sox, giving up three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings.
He had a career-high 18 wins last season—the most by an Indians’ lefty since 1988—and was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Mariners. Lee is 4-0 with a 3.94 ERA in five career starts against them.
Washburn was victorious in his season debut in Seattle’s 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. He allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out seven in his first game against the team with which he spent his first eight major league seasons.
“We have high hopes for ourselves,” Washburn said after winning his first start.
He’s 6-4 with a 4.78 ERA in 13 career starts against the Indians.
The Mariners (3-4) followed that season-opening series against Seattle with a 6-2 win over Oakland, but went on to lose three straight to the Athletics.
Seattle had been held scoreless for 27 2-3 consecutive innings before scoring in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 6-4 defeat. The Mariners totaled 26 runs, 46 hits and five homers during their 3-1 start.
“Are we as good a hitters as we were in the first four games?” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. “I don’t know. Are we as bad as the last two? No, we’re somewhere in the middle.”
Cleveland has won five of its last six games against Seattle.