Seattle (3-5) at Cleveland (6-1)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Apr 12, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Cleveland is riding its offense to its best start in four years.

The Indians will try for their seventh straight victory when they continue their three-game series with the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday at Jacobs Field.

The Indians, who beat the Mariners 9-5 in Tuesday’s series-opener, have not lost since dropping a 10-4 decision on April 2 to the defending World Series Champion Chicago White Sox on April 2.

Cleveland (6-1) is off to its best start since going 11-2 in 2002 and is in first place in the AL Central for the first time since April 18, 2002.

The Indians have scored at least eight runs three times this season and has held opponents to three or fewer four times. Cleveland scored eight or more runs in a game 32 times last season, losing just once.

“We’re all confident right now,” said starter Cliff Lee, who pitched six strong innings and earned the win. “Everybody is pitching well. Everybody is hitting well. We keep swinging like this, and I don’t see a whole lot changing.”

Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner hit consecutive homers in the fifth inning for the Indians, who are hitting .324 this season and have scored first in each of their six wins. Peralta, Hafner and Victor Martinez, who batted third, fourth and fifth respectively, went a combined 8-for-10 with two homers, five RBIs and six runs scored.

“They work off each other and feed off each other,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s what we’ve been seeing.”

Hafner, who hit 33 homers last season, already has five after not getting that many last year on May 17. Peralta, who set a franchise record for shortstops with 24 homers in 2005, connected for the first time this season.

“If they keep doing that,” Lee said of the heart of Cleveland’s order, “we’re going to keep rolling.”

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard returned to Cleveland’s lineup after missing two games with a strained calf.

Jose Lopez homered for the Mariners (3-5), who lost their fourth straight. Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-17 in his last four games—his longest span without a hit since Aug. 2-5, 2005.

Suzuki, who has recored at least 205 hits in each of his six major league seasons, has only six in 34 at-bats so far. But manager Mike Hargrove isn’t worried.

“In ’04 he had the same kind of start, and what did he get about 260 hits (262)? We’ll take that,” Hargrove said. “Death, taxes and Ichiro getting base hits. Some things are a solid bet.”

Gil Meche will look to slow down Cleveland’s offense on Wednesday. The 27-year-old right-hander made his season debut for Seattle on Thursday, allowing two earned runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-2 win over Oakland.

Meche, who relied heavily on his offspeed pitches, said he couldn’t remember throwing fewer fastballs.

“I kept them off balance for the most part throughout the game,” Meche said. “I’m trying to go with what’s working for me right now and spring training my changeup was phenomenal.”

Meche is just 1-6 with a 5.20 ERA in eight career starts against the Indians.

He will square off against Cleveland’s Paul Byrd, who allowed five earned runs and six hits in six innings in his season debut on Friday, an 11-6 win over Minnesota.

Byrd has had plenty of success against Seattle. In seven career starts against the Mariners, he is 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA—his best ERA against any team.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Meche KC vs. P. Byrd Bos
11-8 Record 10-9
4.48 ERA 4.88
156 K 88
84 BB 38
1.43 WHIP 1.51