Slaten and Indy bullpen stay strong

Recently the Indianapolis Indians struggled on the road going enduring a five game losing streak that was snapped with a 4-1 win on Sunday at Buffalo. The Tribe suffered four straight shutouts and over 53 innings the team scored just one earned run and one unearned run.

Despite the multiple losses, the Tribes still holds a one and half game lead over the Toledo Mud Hens for first place in the International League's West Division. Furthermore, the Tribe's bullpen continues to play hard and toss numerous scoreless innings.

Prior to Sunday's contest against the Buffalo Bisons, starting pitcher Jeff Locke was recalled by Pittsburgh leaving the Indians to replace him with Rick VandenHurk, who joined the team on May 14 and picked up the win with 5.0 innings of relief pitching. During the first time in an Indians' uniform, VandenHurk allowed five hits, no runs and no walks.

Saturday night's game against the Buffalo Bisons featured left handed pitcher Justin Wilson starting on the mound in his seventh start of the season. In his last start, he pitched three scoreless innings before being removed as a precautionary measure after feeling some tightness in his right groin. During his last full outing against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Wilson allowed no runs on just three hits and a walk while striking out six batters in six innings.

In Friday night's game, relief pitchers Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten each pitched scoreless innings. In the month of May the Tribe's relief corps has posted a 5-3 record, collected six saves in seven opportunities and has a ERA of 2.27.

Despite blowing his first save of the season by allowing an inherited runner to score in the bottom of the eighth inning on Monday night, Tribe closer Slaten still managed to limit the damage and earn his second win of the season after the Indians plated two scores in the top of the ninth. Slaten also managed to lower his ERA to a miniscule 0.40 with his effort on Monday night and has now not allowed an earned run over his last 21.0 innings pitched

"You just watch the game as it progresses and how the starter's doing, how many pitches he has," he said. "And then we have guys that cover innings and things like that. So guys get to pitch and [some] guys get days off; it kind of gets mixed up like that. We're set up [with] a seventh inning guy, an eighth inning guy and closer, usually."

Slaten does not have an inning that he prefers to pitch for although he has been the closer for many of his appearances. He said that he's "gotten used to just waiting for the phone to ring."

Slaten also said that he has enjoyed his time with the Indians.

"We have a good group of guys here," he said.

The loss against the Iron Pigs on May 17 saw a combined pitching effort by Jo-Jo Reyes and Tim Wood. On May 12, the pair was able to make a win out of Reyes' no decision when Wood picked up the win out of the bullpen. In the game on Thursday, Wood threw one scoreless inning as Reyes suffered his first loss of the season.

After going 5-0 in his first five starts of the season, Reyes has not won in each of his last two starts. In his five winning starts, Reyes allowed 27 hits and five run, and in his two losing starts, he has allowed 14 hits and three runs.

The Tribe lost the contest on May 16 as right handed pitchers Daniel Cabrera and Bryan Morris each threw exceptionally well during the game. Cabrera pitched a total of six innings in which he only allowed one earned run and one walk while recording five strikeouts. Morris pitched two innings of run-less relief with two walks and one strikeout.

The Indians' road streak began on May 15 where the Indians suffered a loss against the Iron Pigs. Left handed pitcher Jeff Locke took the mound for Tribe after being roughed up in his last start against the Iron Pigs on May 10. Prior to the loss though, the pitching staff had thrown four shutouts with a 2.84 ERA and 1.15WHIP.

For the Indians' bullpen, getting back to the major leagues is an important goal to obtain and according to Slaten, it's something that he works hard for and hopes to stay there if he gets recalled by the Pirates.

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