Game #25: Texas Rangers (17-9) at Cleveland Indians (14-10)
By Mike Brandyberry
The boys are back in town, and getting on track too.
Friday night the Indians won a seesaw battle with the Texas Rangers, 6-3. Shin-Soo Choo broke an 0 for 14 slump by hitting a home run in the second inning, Jack Hannahan followed with his own round tripper, Jason Kipnis remained blistering hot and newly acquired Johnny Damon broke the game open with a triple in the seventh inning. Jeanmar Gomez pitched seven solid innings and Chris Perez locked down his 10th save of the season.
Damon’s triple was his first big hit with the Indians, but manager Manny Acta doesn’t feel he needs the production to prove himself to the team.
“That guy has so many big hits in his career,” Acta said. “He didn’t need that triple to prove anything. He’s proven everything he needs to already.”
Damon will not be in tonight’s lineup after playing three straight days. With the rigor of a Major League Baseball season, the Indians do not want to ask too much of him right away. Instead, Michael Brantley will resume his role in the leadoff spot. To Brantley, however, it doesn’t matter where he hits in the lineup.
“I just come play baseball for the team,” Brantley said. “It doesn’t matter where I hit, I just try to put up a good, solid at bat each time.”
After a slow start to the season, with inconsistent hitting, a small injury to Choo and a bumpy bullpen, the Tribe is finding its stride. The signs of consistency are beginning to become obvious as the temperature rises.
Tonight, the Tribe will turn to its most consistent starting pitcher of the year, Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.27 ERA) to keep the Indians playing good baseball. With the exception of one shaky start in Seattle, Lowe has pounded the strike zone and working his sinker to induce ground ball outs all over the Indian infield. His mechanical adjustments from last season’s struggles in Atlanta have become the Tribe’s benefit.
The Rangers will counter with lefty—and Newark, Ohio native—Derek Holland. Holland (2-2, 5.13 ERA) solidified himself as a member of the Rangers rotation a year ago, but is expected to hold a larger role this year with the loss of C.J. Wilson to the Los Angeles Angels. Holland has been inconsistent at times, but considering the Tribe’s heavy left-handed hitting lineup, he could shine this evening.
The Tribe will continue to put things together this evening and pursue Acta’s ever-present goal of winning the series. After taking the opener on Friday, the Indians could use the victory tonight to take the series since new Rangers addition, Yu Darvish pitches on Sunday. A win this evening will guarantee to keep the Tigers one and a half games behind the Indians in the AL Central Division standings.
Game time is 7:05 this evening and also Chris Perez jersey night. The game can be found on Sports Time Ohio and the Indians Radio Network.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Michael Brantley, CF
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
4. Carlos Santana, 1B
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
7. Shelley Duncan, LF
8. Jack Hannahan, 3B
9. Lou Marson, C
Texas Rangers Starting Lineup
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Michael Young, 1B
5. David Murphy, LF
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. Mike Napoli, C
8. Mitch Moreland, DH
9. Alberto Gonzalez, 3B
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images