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PIT@MIA: Fernandez strikes out 13 over eight frames

It's a renaissance in Cleveland.

In sole possession of the second American League Wild Card, the Indians are two good months away from reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2007, when they surrendered a 3-1 series lead in the AL Championship Series to the Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series.

In a new year, with a new manager, the Indians are surging. At 60-48, they're 12 games above .500 for the first time since June 2, 2011. And after wrapping up a 7-0 homestand, they've won 11 straight at Progressive Field, having already matched their home win total from all of last season. They've won five games via a walk-off homer, and have won eight games in row.

And now they head to Miami for a three-game Interleague series against the Marlins.

"It's kind of boring, don't you think?" Mike Aviles joked about the Indians' winning ways. "The thing about it, which I enjoy, is the fact that every night it's somebody different. That shows you the kind of chemistry we have. We're always rooting for each other. It shows you the type of depth we possess right now. It's a fun way to win every night. Something different."

The Marlins, who were quiet at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, have been playing better baseball of late, thanks in part to a pitching staff that posted a 3.24 ERA in the month of July, the best July Marlins pitchers have posted in franchise history.

At front of it has been Friday's starter Jose Fernandez, who is 11th in the Majors among qualified starters with a 2.71 ERA. The rookie flame-thrower hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in a game since May 27. He's coming off a career-high 13-strikeout performance during a 3-2 win over the Pirates in which he became only the fourth pitcher younger than 21 to ever strike out 13 or more in a single game without issuing a walk.

"We've seen Jose kind of get to that next level," manager Mike Redmond said. "He was able to do that and he dominated. It was nice."

The Indians will send Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound after he shut down the Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight innings in his last start. A healthy, productive Jimenez could go a long way for the Indians, and he's shown incredible improvement since June 7, as he's lowered his ERA from 5.03 to 4.17.

"I think it was the fastball, and the other thing was staying aggressive," Jimenez said. "I've been aggressive in prior games, but I wasn't able to stay aggressive. I would get hitters in 0-2 counts, and I've been walking them. But [last time out], we were able just to go after hitters and stay ahead."

Indians: Raburn rolling
Leading the offensive surge that has the Indians ranked third in baseball in run production has been Ryan Raburn.

Raburn has three homers in his last six games, including two to propel the Indians to a 6-1 win over the White Sox on Thursday. The 32-year-old outfielder is showing signs of exploding just as the Indians were hoping.

Always a second-half performer, Raburn hit .267 with 10 homers in the first half. In seven second-half games, Raburn is hitting .391 with three homers and nine RBIs. Over his career, Raburn has hit .224 with a .685 OPS in the first half compared to .295 with a .837 OPS after the All-Star break.

Marlins: Yelich bounces back
After going 0-for-12 with five strikeouts in a three-game stretch, Marlins top prospect Christian Yelich has collected three hits in two games.

It's a roller-coaster ride he expected as a 21-year-old in the Major Leagues.

"I think there have been some good at-bats," said Yelich, who is hitting .244 through his first 10 games. "It's a short sample, nothing to worry about. I've struck out a couple of times, too, but that's going to happen.

"It's not like I feel overmatched at all up there or anything like that. I've hit the ball hard sometimes, and they haven't found the holes. And there are some pretty good pitchers, too."

Worth noting
• The Indians' Yan Gomes is on a five-game hitting streak, during which he's gone 11-for-18 (.611) with three doubles and six RBIs.

• Giancarlo Stanton was walked 27 times in July, the most by a Marlin since Gary Sheffield earned 28 free passes in August 1997. Comments