The Indians have been hitting on all cylinders during their winning streak, which they extended to seven games on Sunday with a 6-4 win over Seattle. Manager Manny Acta has raved about the team's improved defense, which has been outstanding. But the club's late-inning relievers have also been terrific.
In Sunday's win, closer Chris Perez and setup men Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp combined to pitch 2 1/3 hitless and scoreless innings to preserve the win. Sipp and the two Perezes are the Indians' three-most important relievers, and that trio has been nearly perfect in the first 10 days of the season.
In a combined 15 appearances so far, the two Perezes and Sipp have pitched 16 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, with 11 strikeouts. Chris Perez is 3-for-3 in save situations, and Rafael Perez and Sipp have been flawless in their setup roles.
Acta looks at Rafael Perez and Sipp as virtually interchangeable parts in the bullpen. Acta could use one of them as the first lefty out of the bullpen on any given day, and then use the other one in the same role the following day. On some days, he uses them both in the same game. Both pitchers are also capable of coming in as situational lefties, to face one or two batters, or they are also capable of pitching one, or one-plus innings.
Chris Perez took over the closer's role last year following the trade of closer Kerry Wood, and Perez has run with that role. He saved 23 games last season, and seems to have both the temperament and the stuff to be successful in that role.
All of that is good news for Acta, who feels very confident about bringing in any of the three relievers into games in any situation. Those three relievers get most of the credit for making sure when the Indians take a lead late into games that they win those games.
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