CLEVELAND — Indians closer Cody Allen knows the bullpen is down. But the right-hander isn’t counting it out by any means.
“Pretty much almost every guy down there, there’s a track record of success down there for a lot of guys,” Allen said of a Cleveland relief corps that has been one of the majors’ best over the past two years. “This season has not been easy, by any means. It’s a hard game. It’s a humbling game. It’s unforgiving.
“To kind of have some success against these good offenses like we did (Saturday) and then obviously in Chicago (Tuesday and Wednesday) we did it, too, so we know we can do it, but it’s just trying to show up every single day and build on what we did the previous day. We know that’s not always going to be the case. There are going to be some times down there when you fail and you just get flat-out beat.”
Digging out of the hole becomes a much tougher task without the services of left-hander Andrew Miller, who was placed on the disabled list Saturday for the second time this season.
“That guy is the backbone of everything that goes on down there,” Allen said. “He missed a significant amount of time last year and guys stepped up. You saw it a couple years ago, where we had quite a few guys go down and this team’s mantra was ‘Next guy up.’ We’re just trying to grasp that again and have that be our identity, not only as a bullpen, but as a club.
“Just, next man up. Go out there and you understand that your teammates have your back. If you scuffle a little bit, the next guy’s going to come in and pick you up.”
The Indians and Yankees entered Sunday as the majors’ only teams with four players having hit 10 or more home runs.
Jose Ramirez (14), Francisco Lindor (12), Edwin Encarnacion (11) and Yonder Alonso (10) are the first Cleveland foursome to accomplish as much through 50 games since Juan Gonzalez (13), Jim Thome (12), Russell Branyan (11) and Ellis Burks (11) did it in 49 games during the 2001 season.
Count Allen among those who believe second baseman Jason Kipnis will emerge from his season-long slump.
“He hasn’t gotten the results he’s wanted this year, but the guy has shown up every single day just grinding out at-bats,” Allen said of Kipnis, who entered Sunday batting .185 with two home runs and 20 RBIs over 49 games. “He’s barreled up quite a few baseballs. He’s putting together really good at-bats. He just hasn’t gotten rewarded for anything. That old saying where, ‘the game evens itself out,’ it kind of hasn’t for Kip to this point.
“You’re talking about a guy who had 50 hits in a month a couple years ago. He’s an outstanding player and we think he’s going to be huge for us down the stretch.”
Kipnis homered and produced his eighth multihit game of the season Saturday. He went 2-for-6 Sunday, reaching base at least once for the 16th straight game — third-longest streak in the majors.
Right-hander Mitch Talbot made his season debut for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, allowing four runs on seven hits (two homers) and striking out five over five innings of a 7-3 loss at Gwinnett.
The 34-year-old Talbot, who pitched out of Cleveland’s rotation from 2010-11, signed a minor league contract this week.
He pitched in the independent league last year after spending the 2016 season out of baseball.
The Indians wrap up the homestand with a three-game series against Central Division rival Chicago that begins today at 4:10 p.m.
Adam Plutko (2-0, 2.03 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing RHP Dylan Covey (1-1, 3.46), while Mike Clevinger starts Tuesday (6:10 p.m.) against RHP Lucas Giolito (3-5, 7.53).
Corey Kluber (7-2, 2.17) goes for the Indians in the series finale Wednesday (1:10 p.m.) against RHP Reynaldo Lopez (1-3, 2.93).
- Allen surpassed Doug Jones and moved into second place on the Indians’ all-time list with his 130th save Saturday. Allen sits nine saves behind the leader, Bob Wickman.
- Corey Kluber (seven) and Carlos Carrasco (six) are the first Cleveland rotation mates to notch six or more wins over the first 50 games since CC Sabathia and Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) in 2007.