Game #97: Detroit Tigers (52-44) at Cleveland Indians (48-48)
By Mike Brandyberry
Monday evening the Indians used seven and one-third innings from Justin Masterson and a two-run home run from Shin-Soo Choo to snap their four game losing streak and defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1. The Indians avoided being swept by the O’s with the win and climbed back to the .500 mark.
The victory on Monday helped the Indians gain a half game on both the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, as they were both idle. Cleveland is now four games in back of the streaking Tigers, who have won eight of their ten games since the All-Star break. To make the Indians’ plight worse, the Tigers traded for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante yesterday from the Miami Marlins. Detroit has finally become hot and is clearly trying to push for the playoffs.
Cleveland will start the most important series of the season with Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 5.24 ERA) on the mound. Jimenez battled through five and two-third innings last Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays, but David Price dominated the Tribe, defeating Cleveland 6-0. The game was closer than the score appeared, but was opened up when Jimenez could not record the final out in the sixth inning.
“I’m not really putting much negativity into that last outing because he was a pitch away from a quality start,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He just couldn’t retire a hitter in the last inning and hung a slider with some guys on base.”
Jimenez is 2-0, with a 2.84 ERA against Detroit in two starts this season.
The Tigers will send Doug Fister (4-6, 4.04 ERA) to the hill to try to keep the Tigers red hot. While his season numbers look subpar, Fister has got as hot as the rest of his team in his last three starts. He is 3-0, with a 2.57 ERA in his last three outings, including a 7-2 victory last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Fister pitched eight innings, allowing only one run and striking out 10. He is also 3-0, with a 1.21 ERA in his last four outings against the Indians.
Prior to the game the Indians announced they traded for Brent Lillibridge from the Boston Red Sox. The Indians sent minor league right-handed pitcher Jorge De La Torre to the Red Sox. Lillibridge becomes the super-sub the Indians hoped Jason Donald could be out of spring training. Lillibridge, who was part of the Kevin Youkilis trade on June 24, has started at every position–except pitcher and catcher–at least ten times in his career. To make room for Lillibridge on the 40-man roster the Indians placed Lonnie Chisenhall on the 60-day disabled list. The move to put Lillibridge on the 25-man roster will be made tomorrow when he reports to the club. Lillibridge is a lifetime .212 hitter, who is only hitting .165 between Chicago and Boston this season.
“He’s a guy we’ve seen in our division for the last couple years,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He can play the outfield, the infield, he can run and he’s a guy we’ll welcome here because it’s gonna give us an opportunity to give Asdrubal Cabrera and Kipnis a rest. He’s a proven versatile utility infielder.”
Last night Rafael Perez threw two scoreless innings at Double-A Akron and the Indians will wait two days to re-evaluate him. It is expected that he will throw more before being activated from the disabled list. Acta said they would consider bringing him in the middle of an inning, or throwing back-to-back nights before he was placed back on the roster.
With the Indians four games back in the Central Division and three and a half games behind they can ill-afford to fall farther behind the streaking Tigers. Winning the series will keep the Indians’ playoff hopes alive, but losing could force the Tribe to re-evaluate their trade deadline plans.
The Indians begin to fight for their season this evening at 7:05 at Progressive Field. The game can be heard on 1100-AM WTAM and viewed on SportsTime Ohio.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
4. Michael Brantley, CF
5. Carlos Santana, C
6. Travis Hafner, DH
7. Johnny Damon, LF
8. Casey Kotchman, 1B
9. Jack Hannahan, 3B
Detroit Tigers Starting Lineup
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Quintin Berry, LF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Brennan Boesch, LF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Omar Infante, 2B
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images