The Indians' 2013 roster is full of new faces. Yet at the 41-game mark this season, Cleveland sports a record just one game better than last year's mark.
Delve a little further into the numbers, however, and one can spot the differences between the two versions of the club. The Indians, who have won 16 of their last 20 games, have a plus-29 run differential. Last year at this juncture, Cleveland had been outscored by its opponents by four runs.
Across the board, the Tribe's hitting and pitching statistics this season reign supreme over last year's totals. Manager Terry Francona is gradually learning what type of team he has.
"We spent a lot of time in Spring Training trying to do things together, because there was a lot of new faces," Francona said. "But as you play close games, you play games where everybody is involved -- which we've done a lot of that -- you can see the team starting to form a personality, it's own unique personality. And that's good, because you need that though the course of a long season."
The surging Tribe will encounter possibly their stiffest challenge of the season on Sunday, when they collide with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. The American League leader in ERA exited his start on Tuesday in the sixth inning after he tweaked his back, but Seattle skipper Eric Wedge isn't overly concerned.
"He's been fine," Wedge said. "He's had the back thing on-and-off before. He's fine. He should be in good shape."
The anchor of the Indians' rotation, Justin Masterson, will oppose Hernandez. The sinkerballer stymied the Yankees on Monday, tossing a complete-game shutout to notch his sixth win of the season.
Mariners: Harang's status to be determined
Aaron Harang is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Angels, but the Mariners will evaluate the right-hander on Sunday before setting it in stone. Harang was scratched from Thursday's outing after his back stiffened up.
"The plan is to play catch [Saturday] and hopefully throw a light [bullpen session] Sunday," Wedge said. "That's what we're hoping for."
Indians: Masterson eyeing win No. 7
Masterson's masterpiece against New York marked his second complete-game shutout of the year. He limited the Yankees to four hits and struck out nine batters while lowering his ERA to 3.14.
"Staying out there is one thing -- we know he'll do that," Francona said. "But to pitch the way he pitched -- so effectively -- that was really impressive."
• With their win on Saturday, the Indians guaranteed a 10th consecutive non-losing series. They are 5-0-4 in their previous nine series.
• Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, after a sluggish April, leads the Majors in RBIs in the month of May.
"Remember in the beginning when everybody was like, 'Hey, are you going to move him down in the order?'" manager Terry Francona said. "You just have to be patient with good players. It's paying off in huge dividends."
• Right-handed batters are 0-for-30 against Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen this season.
• Wedge gave center fielder Michael Saunders the day off on Saturday, but said he would return to the lineup on Sunday.