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Series Preview #3: New York Yankees (2-4) at Cleveland Indians (3-3)

Series Preview #3: New York Yankees (2-4) at Cleveland Indians (3-3)

| On 08, Apr 2013

A beat up New York Yankees squad heads to Cleveland to take on the Indians for four games to open Progressive Field for the 2013 season.

New York is in the middle of a seven-game road trip. They opened the season at home against the rival Boston Red Sox before playing three in Detroit against the Tigers. Cleveland returns home after spending their first six games of the season on the road against American League East opponents. They will continue on the eastern front, but will at least have home field advantage for this series.

It will be the sixth time in 113 opportunities that the Yankees open the Indians’ home field. The Yankees hold a 3-2 edge all-time. Both teams come to Cleveland after winning their Sunday matchups via shutouts.

While in Detroit, Yankees’ starting pitcher Ivan Nova (0-1, 7.71) gave up four runs in four and two-thirds innings of work as he struggled with many early three-ball counts in an 8-3 loss Friday to the Tigers. Prince Fielder drove in five runs with a pair of home runs for Detroit. Drew Smyly earned the save with four innings of perfect relief of Tigers starter Doug Fister.

The Tigers continued their dominance of the Yankees dating back to last season, winning game two of the series by an 8-4 final. Phil Hughes (0-1, 6.75) allowed three earned runs and eight hits in four innings. The Yankees were able to make a dent against Detroit’s Max Scherzer, who allowed four earned in five innings, but the Tigers bullpen allowed just one hit in the final four frames.

In the series finale, former Cy Young award winners CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander faced off. Sabathia (1-1, 3.00) got the better of the battle, blanking the Tigers through seven innings. Verlander allowed three runs in seven-plus innings, and relievers Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel tacked on a pair of runs each.

With Sunday’s win, the Yankees improved to 2-4 on the season. They trail the Red Sox by two games in the AL East.

Their early struggles may directly correlate with their injury issues. The Yankees have enough money on the disabled list to field another baseball team.

Curtis Granderson broke his forearm in his first Spring Training at bat. The $10 million center fielder will remain on the disabled list until sometime in May.

Team captain Derek Jeter has yet to play while attempting to return from an ankle injury sustained in the AL Championship Series last year. He is not expected to rejoin the roster until May. Jeter owns a .338 lifetime mark in 132 games against Cleveland. He will make $16 million this season.

Mark Teixeira was also lost during Spring Training after partially tearing a tendon in his right wrist just prior to the World Baseball Classic. The Yankees hope to return their $22.5 million first baseman to the lineup in May, but June is not out of the question as he has yet to even swing a bat.

Third baseman Alex Rodriguez had offseason hip surgery and is on the 60-day disabled list. The status of the $29 million man remains a question mark.

Eduardo Nunez is listed as day-to-day after bruising his right bicep against the Tigers over the weekend. The infielder is expected back in the lineup at some point against the Indians, but was unable to swing a bat on Sunday.

Among active Yankees, Travis Hafner has the best career batting average against the Indians. In his debut year with Texas in 2002, he had six hits in 12 plate appearances, including his first major league home run. Two hundred followed in the city that he called home for ten years.

The Indians finished the weekend strong after dropping the first two games of its series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays were the victors on Friday night, 4-0, thanks to a masterful effort from young Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore. In his first start of the season, he and his relief corps allowed just two Michael Bourn hits in shutting out the Indians. Zach McAllister (0-1, 3.00) was tagged with the tough-luck loss, allowing four runs (two earned) in six innings of work while getting no support from his offense. The team played on short rest after flying 1,400 miles after a series-ending loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday night and playing in St. Petersburg less than 20 hours later.

The Indians offense remained absent in the middle game of the series, a 6-0 loss. Trevor Bauer (0-1, 5.40), making a spot start for Scott Kazmir, was wild at times, walking the first four men he faced and seven on the ball game. He allowed just two runs, but the lack of offensive support made it a moot point. The Indians inability to hit with runners in scoring position grew to an 0-for-10 slump through the first two games. Alex Cobb got the win, limiting Cleveland to four hits over seven and one-third innings, striking out six.

Asleep for the first two games of the series, the Indians’ bats finally woke up as Justin Masterson defeated the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price, 13-0. Masterson (2-0, 0.69) was absolutely dominant, shutting out the Rays over seven innings while allowing just two hits and striking out eight. Price allowed a career-worst eight earned runs on ten hits. Indians leadoff batters reached base in seven of the nine innings and Cleveland did not waste the opportunities they had in the previous two games of the series. Five home runs (Mark Reynolds – 2; Lonnie Chisenhall; Bourn, Carlos Santana) and six doubles provided more than enough offense for Masterson.

After the weekend, the Indians (3-3) are a game back in the AL Central, trailing both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. Both teams have won two straight.

Bauer was optioned back to Columbus after making his start. Kazmir is still expected to miss another one to two starts.

Indians catcher Lou Marson exited game two of the series early with a strained neck after an impressive play at the plate in the third inning of the loss. Manager Terry Francona needed to move designated hitter Santana behind the plate, forcing Indians pitchers to bat in an AL (non-Interleague) game for the first time since July 22nd, 1999.

Designated hitter Jason Giambi is eligible to come off of the disabled list against his former team on Tuesday. He is expected to rejoin the team at that time. No corresponding roster move will be necessary, as the team did not add any players at the time of Bauer’s departure to Columbus.

Carlos Carrasco’s suspension from 2011 was finally completed Saturday night. He has been inserted into the starting rotation for Kazmir and will pitch Tuesday evening. Both Brett Myers and McAllister have been bumped back one day in the rotation to accommodate the addition.

Santana is off to a hot start. In six games, he has 12 hits in 24 at bats (.500) with two home runs, four doubles, and five runs batted in. He has hit in five of the six games and is coming off of his third multi-hit game of the season, a perfect five-for-five effort Sunday afternoon.

Marson has had success against the Yankees throughout his career. The Tribe backup backstop has a lifetime .385 average against New York in nine games.

Michael Brantley, who has seemingly been able to hit anything and anyone, has not had the same luck against the Yankees, who have contained him to a career .185 mark. He was two for six last season against Hiroki Kuroda with one home run and three runs batted in.

The Yankees have supplied the Indians with their worst winning percentage against any regular opponent in the history of the organization. The New York franchise (as the Yankees, the New York Hilltoppers from 1903-1912, and the original Baltimore Orioles from 1901-1902) has claimed 1,100 wins in the 1,982 meetings between the two clubs. Last season was no different, as the Yankees took five of six games, including all three at Yankee Stadium.

Kuroda (0-1, 13.50) will make his second start of the season for the Yankees on Monday. He exited his last start after giving up two runs in one and one-third innings after bruising the middle finger on his right pitching hand. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 1.50) will be the Opening Day starter for Cleveland in their Home Opener. He gave up just one run on three hits and struck out six in his first start of the season last Wednesday. He was o-2 against the Yankees in 2012.

Forty-year-old Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.13) will get the ball for the Yankees for game two. He is 6-4 in eleven career starts in Cleveland and is 8-8 all-time in 21 starts against the Indians. Carrasco (0-0, 0.00) will start for the Indians in his first regular season action since August 3rd, 2011.

Nova (0-1, 7.71) will toe the rubber on Wednesday evening. It will be his first professional start in Cleveland. He is 1-0 in his only appearance against them in 2011. The Indians will counter with Myers (0-1, 12.60), coming off of an extra day of rest. The veteran right-hander gave up seven earned runs and four home runs in earning the loss in his first start for the Indians.

Hughes (0-1, 6.75) will make his second start of the season in Thursday evening’s series finale. He started the season on the disabled list and only worked four innings in Detroit Saturday. McAllister (0-1, 3.00) will oppose for Cleveland. He gave up two earned runs against Tampa on Friday but was tagged for the loss after the offense provided just two Bourn hits on the evening.

Monday’s home opener will have a special 4:05 PM first pitch from Cleveland. The remaining three games of the series are all scheduled for 7:05 PM start times. All four games will air on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the YES Network. The games on Monday (MLB Network), Wednesday (ESPN2), and Thursday (MLB Network) will also be broadcast nationwide. The Monday opener will be shown locally in Cleveland on WKYC 3. Radio broadcasts of all four games can be heard on both the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians radio networks.

The Yankees will return home to take on the Baltimore Orioles in a three game series next weekend. The Indians will welcome the AL Central rival Chicago White Sox into town for three. New York and Cleveland will wrap up their series with one another with three games in the Big Apple starting June 3rd.

Photo: John Kuntz / Cleveland Plain Dealer

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