Huff looks to continue his strong closing surge by earning his fourth win in five starts Sunday against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
Despite spending the first six weeks of this season at Triple-A Columbus, Huff (10-8, 5.98 ERA) leads the team in victories, and Cleveland (63-91) has had at least one pitcher finish with 11 wins in every season since Jose Mesa(notes) was 10-12 in 1993.
Huff will try to reach that mark by improving on a 3-1 record and 2.88 ERA over his last four starts and by sending the Orioles (68-94) to their 10th straight loss, which would match their longest slide since Sept. 17-26, 2008.
The left-hander missed out on a career-best fourth straight win Sept. 18. He gave up two runs over six innings, but the Indians didn’t give him a run of support in a 2-1 loss at Oakland, during the team’s season-high 11-game slide.
Huff is one of 12 rookies currently on the Indians’ roster, and while those players are auditioning for spots on next season’s team, manager Eric Wedge may not return for the final year of his contract.
“Their attitude is good and they’re working hard,” Wedge said. “You see the big league level being tough for them right now. It doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be good big leaguers. It takes a little bit of time to get used to this level.”
With those newcomers, Wedge’s club is 5-20 since Aug. 30, but on the verge of their first three-game winning streak in more than a month if they can complete their first home sweep of Baltimore since Aug 19-21, 2005.
In Saturday night’s 9-8 victory, Jhonny Peralta(notes) ended a back-and-forth affair with a game-winning single in the ninth. His three hits and two RBIs snapped a 1-for-31 slump and pushed Cleveland out of last in the AL Central, one-half game ahead of Kansas City.
“I tried to forget the past,” Peralta said. “Today was a new day and I did what I had to do.”
The right-hander has won once in his last seven starts and has a 5.56 ERA in four September starts. He suffered the defeat in Monday night’s 9-2 loss at Toronto, giving up four runs over five-plus innings.
“(Tillman) gives you glimpses and he shows you at times what he’s going to be all about,” manager Dave Trembley said. “That’s what excites you about him. Then he kind of runs into a little bit of a wall and has trouble finishing off hitters.”
Tillman did not get a decision in his only start against Cleveland on Aug. 29 despite giving up one run over five innings in a 5-3 defeat.
Halfway through its 10-game road trip, Baltimore’s bullpen has posted a 9.20 ERA and gave up five runs in 4 2-3 innings Saturday night.