Indians Streak Postponed by Rain

Monday, April 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The streak got a little soggy.

Rain finally slowed down the Cleveland Indians, whose 10-game winning streak was on hold after their series finale against the Kansas City Royals was postponed by bad weather.

No makeup date was announced.

Cleveland (11-1), off to its best start since opening 1966 at 14-1, will have an off day on Monday before opening a four-game series in Chicago on Tuesday. Jim Thome didn't want the rest.

On Saturday, he homered for the fourth straight game as Cleveland rallied from five runs down in the eighth inning to beat the Royals 8-7.

``It would have been nice to get out there again,'' he said Sunday. ``Especially after the way we won yesterday. You like to get back out there and have some more fun when you're playing like this. This has been a great start.''

Matt Lawton hit a three-run homer in Cleveland's five-run eighth Saturday, and the Indians won it in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch. The comeback win was the 93rd time the Indians have won in their last at-bat at home since the Jake opened in 1994.

``How many?'' Thome said. ``Wow. And you know what, I've been here for most of them.''

The improbable win was further proof to Thome that this could be a special season in Cleveland.

Since spring training, Thome said he has been impressed with how quickly this year's team, which includes several new, key players like Lawton and Ricky Gutierrez, has jelled.

``We've had some greats teams, but I think this one has the best camaraderie of any I've been on here,'' he said. ``Our new guys have fit in nicely and it's the way we've been winning games. We've gotten great pitching, and big hits when we've needed them.

``And what I really like about this team is that, bottom line, nobody cares about stats. We're winning games and that's all that guys are talking about.''

Some of Cleveland's early season stats are scary:

_ 6-0 at home. 9-0 in the AL Central.

_ Starters are 10-0 with a 3.88 ERA, and until Ryan Drese's outing _ 4 1-3 innings on Saturday _ each has pitched at least into the sixth inning of every game.

_ The bullpen is unscored upon in 15 straight innings, and has the AL's second-lowest ERA (1.80).

_ The staff has a league-best 3.20 ERA.

_ And the offense, which was supposed to sputter without Roberto Alomar and Juan Gonzalez, entered Sunday leading the league in runs, homers, total bases and walks.

``We'd like to see this thing go on for as long as we can,'' said outfielder Ellis Burks, batting .419 and among the leaders in nearly every offensive category. ``We wanted to get off to a nice start and this has been a lot of fun.

``We're really clicking right now.''

Indians manager Charlie Manuel said Chuck Finley, scheduled to go on Sunday, would start the series opener Tuesday in Chicago against Jon Rauch.

Finley, who had to skip his first start this season after allegedly being attacked by his wife, pitched six shutout innings in his debut last week against Minnesota.

Danys Baez will start Wednesday and Bartolo Colon will pitch Thursday against the White Sox.

But right now, it might not matter who the Indians send out there.

``Our pitching has been unbelievable,'' Thome said. ``As long as they keep us in games, this lineup, as hot as it is, can come back.''

The Royals are also off on Monday and will play at Minnesota on Tuesday night.

Manager Tony Muser said Dan Reichert will be pushed back and start the opener against Twins right-hander Rick Reed. Paul Byrd faces Brad Radke on Wednesday and Jeff Suppan will pitch the series finale against Eric Milton.