Series Preview #30: Detroit Tigers (46-38) at Cleveland Indians (45-40)
Bob Toth | On 05, Jul 2013
After a successful, yet somehow disappointing, 7-4 record on their eleven-game road trip through Baltimore, Chicago, and Kansas City, the Cleveland Indians return home and welcome the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers to Progressive Field.
The Tigers (46-38) may have snapped out of the funk they were in at the end of June. After starting the month 13-8, they dropped five of their last six to the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays. They are 6-2 on the season against the Indians, including 2-0 in Cleveland.
The Indians (45-40) dropped two of three in Kansas City against the Royals to lose their first series since being swept by the Tigers towards the end of their eight-game losing streak in June. They will end the unofficial first half of the season at home with ten straight games before the All-Star break, beginning with four against Detroit, followed by three against Toronto, and three more against Kansas City.
Justin Masterson (10-6, 3.48 ERA) will get the task of ending the team’s two-game skid against Detroit’s Rick Porcello (4-6, 5.21) on Friday at 7:05 PM ET. Masterson pitched a complete game six-hit shutout against Chicago his last time out. Porcello has lost each of his last three decisions while posting an 8.82 ERA.
Carlos Carrasco (0-3, 8.17) is expected to be recalled from Columbus to start the game on Saturday at 4:05 PM ET. He has allowed four earned runs in his last two Progressive Field outings. Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 2.76) will start for Detroit after being activated from the disabled list. He is 2-1 in his career against the Indians with a 1.75 ERA.
Corey Kluber and Doug Fister will square off for Sunday’s 1:05 PM ET first pitch. Kluber (6-5, 4.33) may welcome being back home and pitching in a day game, as he has a 3.14 ERA at home and a 3.06 ERA during the day. Fister (6-5, 3.80) is just 1-4 in his last nine starts and has yet to face the Indians this season.
Scott Kazmir and Max Scherzer will conclude the series on Monday at 7:05 PM ET. Kazmir (4-4, 4.86) is 4-0 in six home starts on the season. Scherzer (13-0, 3.09) looks to win his 14th decision before the break and to remain undefeated on the year. He is the first to begin a season 13-0 since Roger Clemens for Boston in 1986.
All four of the games will air on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Detroit. Friday’s game will also be televised by the MLB Network. Radio broadcasts will be available on the affiliates of both the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers Radio Networks.
Detroit took three of four from the Toronto Blue Jays through the week.
Toronto claimed the opener by an 8-3 final. R.A. Dickey allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings. His offense supported him with five early runs and eight through the first four innings. Prince Fielder and Omar Infante each hit home runs. Infante had four hits on the night, falling a triple short of the cycle.
Detroit overcame an early deficit and prevailed on Tuesday night, 7-6, thanks to an infield single. After being spotted a four-run lead in the bottom of the first, Toronto’s Chien-Ming Wang allowed six runs in the top of the second. Toronto tied the game at six in the bottom of the inning, but an RBI-infield single by Torii Hunter scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth.
The Tigers jumped on Josh Johnson early for six runs, aided by a pair of home runs, as they defeated the Blue Jays 6-2 on Wednesday. Alex Avila hit a three-run shot in the second with two outs and Victor Martinez supplied his seventh, a solo homer in the fifth. Scherzer allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out eight over six and one-third innings.
Justin Verlander blanked the Blue Jays on three hits over seven innings as the Tigers beat up on Esmil Rogers for seven earned runs on the way to an 11-1 victory in the final game of the series on Thursday night. Austin Jackson had four hits, scored four times, and drove in three runs on the night. Hunter added three runs batted in of his own. Only Avila was hitless amongst the team’s starters.
Miguel Cabrera continues to lead baseball in batting and is in the mix for another Triple Crown campaign. His .364 batting average leads Yadier Molina of St. Louis and his .454 on-base percentage is tops over Joey Votto of Cincinnati. He leads the Major Leagues in runs batted in, two higher than Chris Davis, but trails Davis in home runs by six.
Infante has been swinging a hot bat of late and has not shied away from Cleveland pitching this season. He is hitting .478 in his last seven games and .371 since June 16th. In seven games against the Indians this season, he is batting .370 this season with six singles, three doubles, one triple, four runs scored, and four runs batted in.
Scherzer leads baseball in wins with 13 and is third overall in strikeouts with 139. He has allowed opponents to bat just .196 off of him on the season and has maintained a 0.92 WHIP, third-best in the league amongst those qualified.
As a team, Detroit leads the MLB in batting average (.280) and hits (834); is second in on-base percentage (.348), runs batted in (410), and runs scored (423); and is fourth in slugging (.432). They are last in the American League in steals with 24.
Cleveland concluded their road trip by losing their last two in Kansas City.
The Indians lost a four-run lead, only to regain it with two late runs to defeat the Royals 6-5 on Tuesday night. After building a lead, Cleveland gave it back when Kluber suddenly lost the plate in the fifth. Alex Gordon capped the scoring off with a grand slam to tie it. The Indians scored a pair in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Carlos Santana and an RBI-double from Jason Giambi.
After a substantial delay Wednesday due to rain and another after stadium lights turned off, the Royals rallied back with five runs to pull out a win over the Indians, 6-5. The Indians claimed a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth, when Gordon dropped a deep fly and crashed into the left field wall, enabling Jason Kipnis to race around the bases with a three-run inside-the-park home run. The Royals reclaimed the lead as they scored four runs in the bottom of the frame, and after the Indians briefly retied the game at five, lost it in the bottom of the seventh as Cody Allen allowed a 436-foot home run to straightaway center field to Eric Hosmer.
A third day and another big lead lost as the Royals scored ten runs in their last three innings to prevail over the Indians, 10-7, on Thursday afternoon. Drew Stubbs drove in four runs with a two-run homer to left in the second and a two-run single in the sixth. Ubaldo Jimenez gave the lead back as he loaded the bases with two walks and an error, then allowed a grand slam to Lorenzo Cain. Allen relieved and gave up a homer to George Kottaras to tie the game. Santana got the Indians the lead back with a two-run double in the seventh, but KC got a two-run homer by Hosmer off of Joe Smith to retie the game and a bases-clearing pinch-hit double by Salvador Perez in the bottom of the eighth for the deciding runs.
Kipnis has been on base in every game that he has played since May 25th in Boston against the Red Sox. He extended his hitting streak to a team-best 15 games on the season and has reached base in 35 straight games. He has pushed his batting average to .301 on the year.
An 0-for-4 at the plate on Thursday ended Asdrubal Cabrera’s seven-game hitting streak. He is batting .333 since returning from the disabled list. He has a .351 career batting mark against Porcello and a .364 average against Sanchez.
Cleveland will host Toronto for three games when Detroit leaves town after Monday night’s game. Detroit will return home for a six-game homestand before the All-Star break.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images