Tribe Host A's
Aaron Laffey set the bar high for the rest of the Cleveland Indians' starters when he pitched seven scoreless innings in his latest outing. None of them have had any problem surpassing it.
Laffey takes the mound Thursday looking to extend the rotation's 43 1/3-inning scoreless streak as the Indians, with four shutouts in their last five games, try for a three-game home sweep of the Oakland Athletics.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Oakland +135 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Cleveland (21-19) began its seven-game homestand Friday with a 6-1 win over Toronto, the result of an impressive start from C.C. Sabathia, who allowed only a fifth-inning run in his seven innings.
Laffey (1-2, 1.83 ERA) extended the streak of consecutive scoreless innings by Indians starters to nine Saturday, and the rotation has continued that roll.
Fausto Carmona and Cliff Lee each pitched nine shutout innings in Monday's doubleheader, Paul Byrd went 7 1-3 on Tuesday when Oakland came into town, and Sabathia pushed the streak to 43 1-3 innings Wednesday by pitching a complete game in Cleveland's 2-0 win over the A's (23-18).
"It's pretty special stuff what they're putting together right now,'' manager Eric Wedge said. "They're going well beyond the call of duty right now. We just want them to give us a chance to win."
The only runs the Indians have allowed in their last five games came in the 10th inning of the finale of Monday's doubleheader, when the Blue Jays did all their scoring in a 3-0 win.
The Indians' four shutouts in their last five contests have given them a major league-best seven. They haven't had a scoreless streak from their starters this long since a 48-inning run in 1948 - the year when they won their last World Series.
"It's been impressive to watch," center fielder Grady Sizemore told the team's official Web site. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Offensively, you want to get on board and help these guys out, but they're just taking matters into their own hands right now."
Laffey, filling in for the injured Jake Westbrook, has been outstanding in his last two starts after a poor first outing. He's allowed one unearned run over 14 innings in that stretch.
Sizemore, meanwhile, has been one of the few Indians hitting well during the homestand. He's batting .320 with three homers - two in Laffey's last start - and six RBIs in his last six games.
The A's have been one of baseball's biggest surprises over the season's first six weeks, but they'd been having trouble producing runs well before arriving in Cleveland.
Aside from two games in which it scored a combined 27 runs, Oakland has managed just 26 runs in its past 12 games. The A's are second-to-last in the majors with 22 homers, and Jack Cust and Emil Brown are tied for the team lead with four apiece.
After watching his team get blanked for the third time in five games Wednesday, manager Bob Geren didn't seem to have many answers.
"It was another well-pitched game,'' he said. "What are you going to do? It seems like I have said this before. It seems like I sat here and said the same thing 24 hours ago.''
With the way the Indians are pitching, Oakland will likely need a strong performance from rookie Greg Smith (2-2, 3.00) on Thursday. Smith, a rookie acquired in the Dan Haren trade this offseason, suffered a 4-0 loss to Texas on Friday in his last start.
He pitched six innings, allowing four earned runs for the first time in his seven starts. Bet this game.
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