Game Preview #87: Cleveland Indians (45-41) at Toronto Blue Jays (43-44)
By Mike Brandyberry
Friday evening the Indians started the second half, and their playoff push, just the way they had hoped—with a victory. The Tribe defeated the Blue Jays, 1-0. Travis Hafner hit a solo home run in the second inning and Justin Masterson shut out the Jays for seven innings before handing the game to Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez to lock down.
The victory helps the Tribe keep pace with the division-leading Chicago White Sox and in front of the chasing Detroit Tigers. Each were victorious last night, leaving the Indians three games behind Chicago for the division lead and a half game in front of the Tigers. With Detroit’s victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Indians move into a tie for the final wild card spot.
The Tribe will look to keep pushing toward October this afternoon when the second half of their 1-2 combo takes the hill in Ubaldo Jimenez (8-7, 4.50 ERA). Jimenez pitched six innings on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays, earning the victory, while only allowing two runs and striking out eight. He has an ERA south of 3.00 in his last seven starts and appears to be finding the groove that was his 2010 dominance. Jimenez’s first start of the year was against the Blue Jays and he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
Toronto will counter with Aaron Laffey (0-1, 2.67 ERA). Laffey will be making only his fourth start and eighth appearance of the season. He was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 13. After four solid relief appearances and injuries to the starting staff, Laffey was moved to the rotation. He has given the Jays a chance to win in each of his starts, despite losing last Friday to the Chicago White. He allowed three runs in six innings of work.
Much has been made about Cleveland’s struggles against left-handed pitching this season. Currently, they are 10-16 when a southpaw starts against the Tribe, but they have won five straight games with lefty starters. They’ll have a chance to extend their streak to six with the lefty Laffey this afternoon.
The Indians could be getting healthier soon, too. Rafael Perez is expected to pitch a rehabilitation outing in Akron on Saturday. Perez has not pitched for the Indians since April 25, but has thrown two bullpen sessions this week without any setbacks. He has suffered from shoulder soreness all season.
The Tribe will look to take the second game of the series from the Blue Jays at 1:07 pm from the Rogers Centre. The game can be heard on 1100-AM WTAM and the Indians Radio Network or watched on television on SportsTime Ohio.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
4. Jose Lopez, 3B
5. Carlos Santana, DH
6. Michael Brantley, CF
7. Shelley Duncan, LF
8. Casey Kotchman, 1B
9. Lou Marson, C
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineup
1. Brett Lawrie, 3B
2. Colby Rasmus, CF
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Yunel Escobar, SS
7. Kelly Johnson, 2B
8. Rajai Davis, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C
Photo: Getty Images