Fresh off earning American League Co-Player of the Week honors, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has continued to swing a hot bat against the Angels. After hitting .360 (9-for-25) with three home runs and eight RBIs in six games last week, Cabrera added a solo homer in the top of the first Monday.
Thanks to a change in approach at the plate, Cabrera has been hitting the ball harder than in the past, helping spark the Indians' surprise early run to the top of the AL Central.
"He can have 45 doubles with 15 home runs and 80 RBIs," Indians second baseman Orlando Cabrera said. "That's the type of player he is, I believe. He's a guy that has extraordinary power from both sides of the plate."
With their winning streak giving them the second-best record in the AL behind the Rangers, the first 10 games of the season have created plenty of positive energy in the Indians clubhouse.
"It's a lot of fun to play baseball when the team is playing like this," reliever Vinnie Pestano said. "Everybody feeds off it. The pitchers feed off the hitters and the hitters feed off the pitchers I think. It's going well. We just have to keep it going."
In order to extend that streak to nine, however, the Indians will have to stay hot against an Angels starter who has had an impressive start to the season in his own right. Right-hander Dan Haren is 2-0 with a 1.15 so far in 2011.
Haren was scheduled to start Monday, but was bumped back a day after making an emergency relief appearance Saturday against the Blue Jays. In his first relief appearance since the 2004 World Series, Haren pitched the 14th inning, earning the victory.
With the schedule change, Haren no longer follows Jered Weaver in the rotation, something Haren joked was a good thing for him.
"I don't like following him. He's too good," Haren said. "I texted him in Florida and said I'm sick of pitching after you. He makes it look pretty easy."
Haren has 13 strikeouts against zero walks in 15 2/3 innings, while allowing 10 hits and holding batters to a .179 batting average. He attributes some of his success to his teammates.
"I have a better team behind me -- no offense [to Arizona]. Especially defensively," Haren said. "Pitching in a better ballpark helps. My stuff was a little better in my first start [at Kansas City] than the second one [at Tampa Bay]. One thing I haven't done is walk people. I don't like to give away baserunners."
Indians: Tribe happy to have O. Cabrera
The Indians paid only $1 million for second baseman Orlando Cabrera this offseason, but with the way he's played in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths so far this season, Cabrera has been worth much more.
If you ask hitting coach Jon Nunnally, Cabrera has had a tremendous impact on the Indians lineup.
"Once we added a veteran like Cabrera, it helps your lineup out a lot," Nunnally said. "That's somebody in the lineup that understands and knows exactly what he's doing, especially when you get people on base. He knows what to go out and do. Adding him to our lineup has been great."
Angels: Downs added to bullpen
Veteran left-hander Scott Downs was activated from the disabled list Monday, and the Angels added him to their bullpen after demoting a pair of young relievers.
Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn were sent to Triple-A Salt Lake, apparently to work on their command.
Downs began the season on the disabled list after fracturing his left big toe, and made a pair of rehab appearances, in which he gave up two runs. Now that he's recovered, Angels will add one of the most effective setup artists in the game over the last six seasons to their bullpen.
Three of the Angels' five losses have been by one run. ... Howard Kendrick has hit safely in nine of 10 games. ... The Indians are third in the AL, behind the White Sox and Rangers, with 56 runs scored.