CLEVELAND — Orlando Cabrera senses something special happening to the Cleveland Indians. In 13 major league seasons, he's seen this before.
With each quality start, clutch hit and win, the Indians' confidence grows. Cabrera sees a young team blossoming into a quality one.
"I think we have what it takes," he said.
To do what?
"To win," he said. "I don't like to compete. I like to win."
That's exactly what the Indians are doing.
Josh Tomlin delivered yet another quality start for Cleveland, Cabrera drove in four runs and the first-place Indians won their sixth straight at home, 8-3 on Saturday over the Baltimore Orioles, who have lost six in a row and are having trouble scoring.
Tomlin (3-0) gave up two runs — solo homers to Jake Fox and Luke Scott — and six hits in six innings. His outing continued a dominant run by Cleveland's starters, who are making it look easy. In the last 12 games, they're 8-1 with a 1.91 ERA, not bad for a five-man rotation of virtual unknowns.
After dropping their first two games, the Indians have won 10 of 12. Cabrera, signed as a free agent to fill the Indians' hole at second base and bring leadership to their clubhouse, has been impresses by the strong start but wants to see more.
"We haven't had to fight back yet," he said. "I want to see us fight back late in the game."
The Indians haven't had to. They've been jumping out to early leads, scoring 42 of their 75 runs in the first four innings. The nice starts have allowed their pitchers to relax and not have to worry about being perfect. So far, it's been a nearly foolproof formula as Cleveland is 8-1 when scoring first.
"It means the world," manager Manny Acta said of the early runs. "Everybody wants to pitch with a lead. It really gives guys more confidence to throw the ball over the plate and challenge guys. It's been huge."
Shin-Soo Choo homered off Jeremy Guthrie (1-2) and Matt LaPorta had two RBIs for the Indians, who are 10-4 and off to their best start in nine years. Travis Hafner and Travis Buck had three hits each for Cleveland.
It's been a great start for the Indians and it could soon get better as the club is expected to activate center fielder Grady Sizemore from the disabled list in the next two days. The three-time All-Star has been out nearly a year following knee injury.
Since opening 4-0, the Orioles have lost seven of nine and their six-game slide is the club's longest since Buck Showalter took over as manager on Aug. 3. Baltimore has scored just 15 runs in the skid, and once again didn't take advantage of some scoring chances.
"It's not the gloom and doom everybody makes it out to be," Showalter said. "We had opportunities we didn't take advantage of. It's been a challenge for us. We'll get better at that."
Tomlin won the only open spot in Cleveland's rotation during spring training, and the right-hander's shown no signs he'll give it up. He coasted through the first few innings, allowing only the two homers before working in and out of a tricky situation in the fifth.
He gave up a leadoff homer to Scott that made it 6-2 and then made an error on Adam Jones' bunt. The Orioles eventually loaded the bases with one out, but Tomlin got Brian Roberts to pop out and retired Nick Markakis on a groundout.
"I knew I had to make that pitch and I was able to," said Tomlin, who was pulled after 79 pitches but disagree with Acta's decision to take him out.
Acta said Tomlin was "one pitch from disaster."
"I was," Tomlin said.
The Orioles made it 6-3 in the seventh on Roberts' RBI single, but failed to push more than one run across despite having runners at first and third with none out. Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano got Markakis to hit into a double play and struck out Derek Lee to preserve Cleveland's three-run lead.Comment on this story
Cabrera made it swell to five runs in the seventh with his second homer.
The 36-year-old has been to the playoffs six times in the past seven years. He acknowledged its too early to think that far ahead, but he is seeing a team that's beginning to understand what it takes to win.
"I like to win," he said. "I do think we have what it takes and I think the guys have the confidence every day to come and get a 'W' every night. You can see the smiles on their faces."
NOTES: Tomlin has pitched at least five innings each of his first 15 major league starts, the first pitcher in Cleveland history to do that. ... Steady rain followed by a thunderstorm delayed the start of the game for 2 hours, 3 minutes. ... Scott made a sliding catch in the left-field corner to rob Choo of extra bases in the seventh, and Jones made a leaping catch at the center-field wall in front of Cleveland's bullpen to steal a double or better from Brantley in the fourth. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians were the first team in AL history to win eight straight games after starting 0-2.