Indians vs. Reds Series Preview
The Indians will conclude their interleague portion of the season as they take on their in-state rivals in Cincinnati. The Indians just completed a series win against the Diamondbacks that saw Carlos Carrasco have another spectacular outing in which he gave up just two solo home runs to Arizona. Going into the series, the Indians hold a record of 42-37 good for a virtual tie with Detroit atop the A.L. Central (At last check, the Tigers were beating the Mets 5-1 in the bottom of the 7th. If they win, they will be .5 games up on the Tribe). The Reds, on the other hand, sit 2.5 games back in the N.L. Central behind St. Louis and a very hot Milwaukee team.
The last time these teams met, the Indians were in the middle of their magical playing days. They swept the Reds right out of Cleveland winning by scores of 5-4, 2-1 and 12-4. Since the Reds left town, the Indians have not been the same team. They were 29-15 after that win and are now just 5 games over the .500 mark. Hitting with runners in scoring position has been abysmal but it seems like they may be breaking out of that. The Reds were 25-22 when they left Cleveland and they are still sitting right around that .500 area with a record of 42-40.
So, what should we expect to see this weekend? The first game matches Justin Masterson (5-6, 2.98), winless since the end of April, and Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 5.01) who won his last start despite giving up five runs in 6.1 innings. Game two sees Fausto Carmona (4-10, 5.89), trying to get his act together again after saving his job with his semi-successful outing against San Francisco, matched up with Homer Bailer (3-2, 3.86) who the Indians beat despite his strong performance against them on May 21st. The series finally hooks up Mitch Talbot (2-4, 4.96), who can’t seem to hold a 1st inning lead, and Mike Leake (7-4, 3.89) who held Tampa Bay scoreless for 6 innings in his last outing.
With Shin-Soo Choo out for the next couple months, others are going to have to pick up the slack. Asdrubal Cabrera has been continuing to hit well, hovering around the .300 mark and he leads most offensive categories for the Tribe. Travis Hafner will obviously be a non-factor in this series unless he gets the opportunity to pinch-hit. Lonnie Chisenhall will try to keep his hot start going and Michael Brantley will be trying to get back on track after a tough series against Arizona.
Winning the series would be a very good thing for the Indians as they finish the first half of the season with sets against the Yankees and the Blue Jays at home before the All Star Break. Staying on top of the Central Division will be a tough thing to do if they lose two or all three games against the Reds. The hitting has to get back to what it was earlier this season and the pitching needs to be consistent. The Indians have one of the best bullpens in the Majors and the starters need to be able to hand the game off to them with as little damage as possible.