Series Preview #18: Colorado Rockies (28-25) at Cleveland Indians (24-30)
Bob Toth | On 30, May 2014
It seems like every time the Cleveland Indians make some good strides in the win column, they unexpectedly crumble to pieces. They will look to gather themselves back up as they host the Colorado Rockies in a three-game interleague series this weekend.
Cleveland (24-30) had been playing better ball. After a surprise sweep of the Detroit Tigers, they split a four-game set with the talented Orioles in Baltimore. They then proceeded to get outplayed by the White Sox in Chicago, losing all three games and mustering just five runs of offense.
A three-run third, powered by a three-run home run from Dayan Viciedo, proved to be all the White Sox needed on Monday afternoon as they beat the Indians by a 6-2 final. The Sox edged out a 2-1 rain-soaked victory on Tuesday. Eight strikeouts from Cleveland rookie T.J. House were not enough on Wednesday, as Chicago walked off a winner, 3-2, despite closer Ronald Belisario blowing the save in the top of the ninth. A late error once again proved costly for the Tribe.
Colorado (28-25) has been phenomenal at home, boasting the second-best home mark (16-7) in all of baseball, but like the Indians have struggled on the road (12-18). They fell 9-0 on Monday behind a combined seven-hitter from four Philadelphia pitchers. Colorado won Tuesday’s middle game, 6-2, as Wilin Rosario’s three-run home run in the seventh broke a one-all tie. A four-run bottom of the ninth, capped by a three-run walk-off home run by the Phillies’ Ryan Howard, gave Philadelphia the 6-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.
Corey Kluber (5-3, 3.10 ERA) and Juan Nicasio (5-2, 3.61) will pair up in the series opener at 7:05 PM ET on Friday night. Kluber is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA in five quality May starts. Nicasio has been just as good, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.10 ERA in five May outings of his own, including three starts with no more than one run and three hits allowed.
Trevor Bauer (1-2, 3.86) will make Saturday’s 3:05 PM ET first pitch. He struck out eight but could not get out of the fifth in a loss his last time out. Left-hander Franklin Morales (3-4, 5.65) will counter for Colorado’s Walt Weiss. He has been tagged with losses in three of his last five starts and has not won since winning three straight in late April. The Indians are batting an American League-worst .228 against lefties this season. They are just 6-13 against left-handed starters, the second-worst mark in the AL (Tampa Bay: 5-11) and third-worst in all of baseball (Arizona: 3-9).
Josh Tomlin (3-2, 3.04) will wrap up the rare matchup between the two clubs starting at 1:05 PM ET on Sunday. He tied a career-high with eight strikeouts in his last start, a tough-luck loss to Chicago despite allowing just two earned runs. Jhoulys Chacin (0-4, 5.20) will oppose. He has lost four of his five starts since returning from a right shoulder injury sustained in Spring Training.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and ROOT Sports will air all three games. The affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Rockies Radio Network will handle on-air versions of the games.
Third baseman/catcher Carlos Santana remains on the 7-day disabled list with concussion symptoms. Pitcher Zach McAllister (lower back strain) and first baseman Nick Swisher (hyperextended left knee) are on the 15-day disabled list. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan (sprained PCL in right knee) remains on the 60-day disabled list.
Hot-hitting third baseman Nolan Arenado was placed on the 15-day disabled list by Colorado during the week after suffering a left middle finger mallet fracture. He was to see a specialist on Thursday to determine if the injury would heal in a splint, approximately a one-month absence from the lineup, or if it would need surgery that would keep him from the lineup closer to two months. He had a 28-game hitting streak earlier in the season.
Carlos Gonzalez is day-to-day with a right calf contusion. He sat out Wednesday’s game after leaving Tuesday’s game early.
HOT IN CLEVELAND
Michael Bourn continued his improved efforts at the plate in Chicago. He registered the 1,000th hit of his Major League career in Wednesday’s loss. He has hit in 18 of 21 May games and 20 of his last 23 games overall. His season-high nine-game hitting streak ended Monday in Chicago. He is 4-for-6 in his career against Morales, despite the lefty-lefty matchup.
Michael Brantley is continuing to make a case to represent the Indians at the Midsummer’s Classic in Minnesota this season. He is hitting .364 over the last seven days with eight singles, two RBI, and two stolen bases. He is now a perfect 8-for-8 in thievery this season. He has hit in each of his last 14 games and 25 of his last 26.
Lonnie Chisenhall had hit in eight straight until a 1-for-10 trip through the Windy City. He is still hitting .343 in his last ten games, .355 in May, and .358 on the season. In limited, but increasing, plate appearances against left-handed pitching, he is batting .538.
Troy Tulowitzki has shown the National League what he can do when able to stay healthy. He is leading the Senior Circuit with 45 runs scored, a .369 batting average, .471 on-base percentage, .702 slugging percentage, and 1.174 OPS. He is second in home runs (14) and third in walks (33) and runs batted in (37).
A familiar foe has rejuvenated his career in the National League’s thin air of Coors Field. Justin Morneau is second on the team with ten home runs, 14 doubles, and 33 runs batted in. He is hitting .312 on the season. He is a .417 hitter against Kluber in his career with a homer and four RBI and a .385 hitter lifetime against Tomlin with a pair of home runs and six RBI in 13 plate appearances against both.
Charlie Blackmon is one of the early leading vote getters in the NL for the All-Star game. He is hitting .314 on the season with nine home runs and 33 RBI of his own. His season average, boosted by a .374 line in April, has cooled some after a .250 average so far in May.
The Rockies hold the edge in the head-to-head series between the two clubs with ten wins to eight losses. Both teams have fared better on their home turfs. The Indians are 6-3 at home against the Rockies. It will be the fourth series hosted on the shores of Lake Erie between the two teams. Tomlin and the Indians won a 4-3 final on June 22nd, 2011, the last time the two faced off.
TOUCH ‘EM ALL TIME
A familiar local voice makes his return to the Cleveland area that he once called home.
Jack Corrigan is a radio announcer for the Colorado Rockies. Some long-time Indians fans may remember him as the television voice of the Tribe for 17 years from 1985 to 2001, covering some of the glory years of the Cleveland franchise on WUAB Channel 43 in the Greater Cleveland area. In the offseason, he also did play-by-play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the MISL’s Cleveland Force.
He is in his ninth season with the Rockies Radio Network on 850 KOA, the flagship station for the club. He is also a published author, having released Warning Track, a baseball themed novel, previously with a second novel on World War II to be released later this year and a third book on the FBI already underway.
During Thursday evening’s airing of “Munch on Sports” on ESPN 850 WKNR Cleveland, Corrigan concluded his interview with Mark “Munch” Bishop and Dave DeNatale with a fictional matchup of Jim Thome and Dennis Eckersley that ended with a drive out of the park by Thome and Corrigan’s catchphrase, “Touch ‘em All Time”.
It still induces goosebumps, just as it did many years ago. Indians fans will have to hope that he will not be able to use his signature call for the Rockies any time over the next three games.
The Boston Red Sox will come to Cleveland for a three-game series with the Indians on Monday. After a day off on Monday, Colorado will host a ten-game homestand against Arizona, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images