CLEVELAND — The Indians’ offense just needs to push at least three runs across the plate each time it takes the field and let the pitching staff handle the rest — a recipe that’s worked for them all but two times this season.
Cleveland’s simplistic method held true again on Monday after a strong seven-inning performance by Zach Plesac that lifted the Tribe to a 5-2 victory over the Royals at Progressive Field. The win moved the Indians into a share of first place in the American League Central with the White Sox, who were off Monday.
There were concerns that Plesac would be a little rusty when he first rejoined the team after a three-week break due to violating team protocols, but a one-run, six-inning outing indicated that he stayed sharp during his stint in Lake County. Now, he’s made it more than clear that his stuff was not affected during his time off.
In his second outing since rejoining the club, Plesac gave up one run (solo homer) on seven hits with four strikeouts in seven frames. Entering Monday, the 25-year-old had the second-lowest ERA (1.33, which dropped to 1.32 after this start) in the Majors among pitchers with at least 25 innings this season. The only hurler with a lower ERA is teammate Shane Bieber (1.25).
As long as the pitching staff is backed by at least three runs, the Indians have been set up for success. The Tribe has now gone 21-2 in games in which they have scored three or more runs, thanks to the best rotation and third-best bullpen in the Majors based on ERA entering Monday night.