Series Preview: Seattle (53-72) vs. Cleveland (62-61)
By Matt Van Wormer
At certain times, a team needs to take a look at itself in the mirror and ask themselves if they are who they intend to be. This is one of those gut check times for the Cleveland Indians. After failing to even maintain pace with the Tigers in Detroit this weekend, the Indians sit four and a half games back of the Central Division leaders and just one game over .500. The White Sox are hot on the Indians tails as well and with Seattle, Kansas City and Oakland coming to town, Cleveland has to take advantage of these sub .500 teams. These “should-win” games will tell us all we need to know about the Indians’ post-season chances.
In the first of the four-game series with Seattle, Jason Vargas (7-11, 4.37, 1.33 WHIP) takes on the resurgent Fausto Carmona (6-12, 4.89, 1.33 WHIP). Cleveland’s bat took advantage of Vargas in their one meeting against him this year, getting nine hits and seven runs in just 3.1 innings. Carmona has just a no-decision against Seattle this year, throwing 7.2 innings and giving up six hits and four runs. If Carmona throws as well as he has been since coming off the disabled list, the Indians should easily take game one of this series.
Tuesday’s Day-Night Double Header starts with Blake Beaven (3-4, 4.10, 1.23 WHIP) and Justin Masterson (10-7, 2.71, 1.18 WHIP) battling the afternoon sun. Beaven will be making just his tenth start of the year and has never faced the Tribe. Masterson pitched very well against Seattle in his one start against them getting a win by throwing 6.1 innings and giving up just four hits and one run. Masterson will be looked at to eat up some innings so the bullpen doesn’t get taxed with the double-dip.
The Nightcap on Tuesday has not had starters announced, however, Zach McAllister was spotted at Progressive Field Monday afternoon, so it is a safe assumption he will toe the rubber for the Tribe. As for the Mariners, it is anyone’s guess as to what they will do. Stay updated with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we will get an update posted as soon as the starters are announced.
Wednesday’s day game gives us the Mariner’s King, Felix Hernandez (11-11, 3.38, 1.19 WHIP) against Josh Tomlin (12-6, 4.03, 1.03 WHIP) who had a bit of a rough outing against the Tigers on Friday evening. While Hernandez hasn’t faced the Indians this year, over the last three seasons he is 4-2 with a 1.99 ERA against Cleveland. Tomlin pitched once against the Mariners this year, earning a win with 6.2 innings pitched, three hits and three runs given up.
Key Matchup: Michael Brantley vs. Hernandez – Brantley is just 2 for 7 against Hernandez but he is going to have to be the table setter and the bats behind him are going to have to find ways to get him around.
The Indians seem to be falling apart coming down the stretch and the upcoming MRI on Travis Hafner doesn’t bode well for a team already trying to overcome multiple injuries. That being said, these guys are Major League Baseball players and they must find a way to overcome and get the wins that they need. If they can’t overcome adversity now, there is no way they will be able to do anything at the end of September and beginning of October.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images