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News » Blue Jays-Indians Preview 2009-04-12


Blue Jays-Indians Preview 2009-04-12


Blue Jays-Indians Preview 2009-04-12
Baseball's hottest offense has the Toronto Blue Jays one win away from matching their best start in 15 years. The league's worst pitching staff has the Cleveland Indians on the verge of doing something they've avoided for much longer.

A loss Sunday afternoon would equal the Indians' worst start in 95 years, a distinction they try to avoid when they close a three-game home series against the scorching Blue Jays.

Cleveland (0-5) finished a disappointing 81-81 in 2008, but a 32-17 finish had it pegged as one of the favorites to win the AL Central coming into this season.

Yet, five games in, the Indians are the AL's lone winless team due largely to a league-worst 9.86 ERA from a pitching staff that's allowed opponents to hit .357.

Reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, who didn't lose his second game last season until July 6, fell to 0-2 with a 9.90 ERA on Saturday after allowing four runs in five innings in a 5-4 loss.

"We're going to win plenty of ballgames this year. No one is going to panic," first baseman Ryan Garko said. "We've got to battle through this and keep our heads up. ... We have to fight through the perception that it's a big deal, because it's really not. We're going to be fine."

The Indians haven't dropped their first six games since 1914, but if they're going to avoid that fate Sunday they'll need to slow down Toronto's red-hot bats.

The Blue Jays have scored an MLB-high 42 runs through six games, with designated hitter Adam Lind leading the way. One of Toronto's top prospects for the past four years, Lind looks like he may finally be ready to break through. He has three homers and 12 RBIs, and had his fourth multi-hit game on Saturday.

The Blue Jays are 5-1 for the first time since 2001, and haven't won six of their first seven since 1994.

"It is (a shock)," manager Cito Gaston told the team's official Web site.

"We won, what, 86 games last year? If they just put seven more with that - that's not tough is it? - and they're in the playoffs. The year before, they had the same kind of offensive team, they just didn't produce, either. I think it's just been the offense hasn't been good."

David Purcey (0-0, 2.57 ERA) will try to help the Blue Jays earn their first three-game sweep in Cleveland since 2002. The left-hander looked much better in his first start this season than he did during most of his rookie year, when he went 3-6 with a 5.54 ERA.

Purcey allowed three runs - two earned - over seven innings Tuesday against Detroit, but didn't earn a decision in the Jays' 5-4 win.

"He was outstanding," catcher Rod Barajas said. "When he did lose the strike zone up at times, he was able to regroup and start over again - get himself where he needed to be. He was awesome. This is exactly what we need from him."

Purcey gave up three runs over six innings in a 5-2 loss to Cleveland last Aug. 8.

The Indians will send Anthony Reyes (4-2, 2.76) to the hill for his first start of the season. The right-hander was solid in six starts after coming over from St. Louis in July, going 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA before he was shut down in early September with elbow inflammation.

His first start in an Indians uniform came when he outdueled Purcey on Aug. 8, giving up one run and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 12, 2009

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