The Cleveland Indians have ridden their resurgent offense to the top of the AL Central with their best stretch of the season.
The Indians hope to continue their torrid hitting as they seek their third straight win Wednesday when their three-game series continues against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cleveland (15-8) has hit 12 homers and outscored opponents 62-37 while winning eight of its last nine games. The lone loss is currently under protest after umpires awarded Baltimore a run in Saturday’s 7-4 loss three innings after it appeared to be waved off.
The Indians, who had scored just 36 runs in their previous 10 games before the recent surge, could learn the outcome of their protest as early as Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Jhonny Peralta went 2-for-4 with a career-high five RBIs as the Indians took a 12-4 win in the series opener. His three-run homer in the fifth inning was one of Cleveland’s season-high three homers.
Peralta has four homers and 12 RBIs in his last eight games, raising his average to .241.
“Our guys have done a real good job of being patient, seeing pitches, working counts and putting up tough at-bats,” manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official Web site.
Cleveland improved to 9-3 at Jacobs Field, where it has won 10 of 11 against Toronto (13-13) dating back to 2003.
Toronto had won five of its last seven games, including two in a row, before Tuesday’s defeat sent them back to .500.
The Blue Jays hit three first-inning solo home runs, but managed just one run and three hits the remaining eight innings after a rain delay stopped play for 30 minutes in the bottom half of the inning.
“The game started off real good, but it didn’t finish that way,” manager John Gibbons told the team’s official Web site.
Toronto hopes to get back on track as Victor Zambrano (0-1, 5.06 ERA) makes his first start of the season. Zambrano has allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings spanning six relief appearances. The right-hander was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts in 2006 before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery in May.
Zambrano, who has not faced the Indians since May 2004, is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in two career starts against them.
Jake Westbrook (1-2, 7.96) hopes to follow up his first win of the year with another solid outing when he takes the mound for Cleveland. He allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings as the Indians beat Baltimore 5-4 on Friday.
Westbrook is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in his last two starts after opening the season 0-2 with a 12.08 ERA in his first three.
“I feel a lot better with my command and pitches,” he told the team’s official Web site after his first victory. “It was just a matter of figuring it out.”
Westbrook is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA in seven career games—five starts— against Toronto.