After coming within one win of the World Series last year, the Cleveland Indians struggled out of the gate in 2008 and hit rock bottom during a 10-game losing streak in the weeks before the All-Star break.
Their current 10-game win streak, though, is making the disappointing season a little easier to swallow.The Indians look to win 11 in a row for the first time in more than 26 years when they host the AL-worst Seattle Mariners on Friday night.Cleveland won last year's division series matchup with New York before blowing a 3-1 lead to eventual World Series champion Boston in the ALCS. The young and talented team appeared primed to contend for the next several seasons, but the Indians (65-67) stumbled early and lost 10 straight games from June 28-July 9 to fall out of playoff contention.Since that skid, however, Cleveland is 28-14 and 10-0 since Aug. 17, giving the team its first 10-game win streak since April 3-13, 2002. Though this season will still likely go down as a disappointment, manager Eric Wedge likes what he's seen from his club lately."The longer you're able to soak in something, the more real it is," he told the Indians' official Web site. "Hopefully, we'll keep playing good baseball. At the very least, this is going to give us a more optimistic view about what we have here, and that's a good thing."The Indians kept their streak alive with a 9-7 win over Detroit on Wednesday night, pulling within two games of .500 for the first time since May 21. They're the first team since Tampa Bay in 2004 to win 10 straight and lose 10 straight in a season."The makeup of the guys in this clubhouse is that they can have a 10-game losing streak and put it all behind them," Cleveland catcher Kelly Shoppach said.Shoppach has played a large role in the Indians' recent success. He went 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs Wednesday and is batting .310 (9-for-29) with five homers, 10 RBIs and eight runs in eight games during the win streak.Shoppach looks to continue his surge as Cleveland tries to win 11 in a row for the first time since May 23-June 4, 1982.The Indians will put their streak on the line against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez (8-8, 3.28 ERA), who's coming off his first victory since beating Cleveland on July 18. The right-hander went 0-2 with a 4.14 ERA in his first six outings after defeating the Indians, but snapped the winless streak with an 8-4 victory over Oakland on Sunday. He allowed three runs and four hits while striking out seven in six innings."I haven't won a game for a long time and it feels great," he said. "I've got to go out there and do the best I can and try to win another one."Hernandez, 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in four starts against Cleveland, looks to help Seattle (50-83) get its fifth win in seven games. The Mariners failed to complete a three-game sweep of Minnesota on Wednesday, falling 6-5 to snap a season high-tying three-game win streak.The Mariners will try to bounce back against the Indians' Jeremy Sowers (2-6, 5.95), who's 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against them.The left-hander was reached for seven runs in 3 2-3 innings Saturday, but Cleveland rallied for an 8-7 victory over Texas. The Indians have won the last three games started by Sowers after going 4-9 in his first 13 starts.