When the American League Central Division began to take shape roster wise for teams such as the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, many Indians fans felt the team was in quite a bit of trouble with the way the rest of the division was being built.
Both the Sox and Royals appeared to be the most aggressive teams in terms of making roster moves and pickups, and while the Indians sat back and watched, the division appeared to get even more competitive.
What teams like the Royals and Sox didn't take into consideration is the fact that the Indians have been here before, and while it's only now 30 games after Thursday's 4-0 shutout win over Kansas City, the Tribe knows about winning, and they are now on the path of doing such.
Now at 17-13, the Indians have hit their stride, which some may say isn't good this early in the season.
The team has won five straight, they ended April winners of four of five, and they've continued May as one of the hottest teams in the league to start May, winning five of six to move to 17-13 and leaders in the division by a half a game over the White Sox.
So how has this team this quickly turned things around? There's been plenty of speculation as to how they went from a club that simply couldn't score to one that now is putting up runs in bunches.
Here are a couple takeaways from the shutout win over the Royals on Thursday as the team is now home getting ready to start a homestand against the rival Reds and Cubs.
McKenzie Steps Up
Indians young pitcher Triston McKenzie had his foot on the throat of the Royals for most of the afternoon, going five innings not allowing a run on a pair of hits.
The hurler threw 92 pitches in the effort, 56 of which were for strikes.
He stayed on top of the Royals all afternoon, and while the offense took awhile to finally find their stride, credit has to go to McKenzie for staying focused and not giving in while watching the likes of struggles from Logan Allen (1-4, 9.19) and Zach Plesac (2-3, 4.78).
It looks like McKenzie is quickly and quietly becoming a staple in the pen. We will see in a few days if he can keep up the success rate he's having.
Nick Sandlin, James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase helped out going the final four innings, and the pitching staff right now is throwing as well as they have at any point over last season's shortened campaign and the current start to the long season that lies ahead.
Let's Go 'O'
It wasn't much to behold when it came to the box score Thursday, as fans that check it out saw that the Tribe piled on 11 hits to just four for Kansas City.
Amed Rosario got the offense going in the second inning, driving in a run to give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead.
Jake Bauers made it 2-0 in the 4th when backup catcher Rene Rivera (3-for-4, .750 average) came around to score to give the Indians a two-run edge.
With the pitching dominating, a couple runs was more than enough for the Indians staff, and they proved it shutting out the Royals for their own good.
Over the last five games (all Indians wins) the Tribe put up 29 runs, holding their opposition to 13 runs - six of which came in one game.
It will be interesting to see if the consistency both at the plate and on the mound will continue with five home games coming up against the Reds and Cubs prior to their trip out west to take on the Seattle Mariners starting next Thursday.
An Even Keel
It's been smooth sailing as of late for the Indians, as the team isn't letting itself find themselves in big holes early in games.
They have more so been building leads instead of falling behind and having to rally their way back.
About the only example the other way was Wednesday wild comeback against Kansas City that saw Jose Ramirez homer to get the Indians back to even, and then in the 8th inning it was Josh Naylor's solo HR that gave the Tribe the lead for good.
A ton of the credit has to go to this coaching staff, as early on in 2021 they've overcome players with nagging injuries, and now an offense that was having all kinds of issues finding its stride is looking now like a unit that can score at will.