Series Preview #25: Cleveland Indians (37-39) at Arizona Diamondbacks (32-47)
Bob Toth | On 24, Jun 2014
While the Cleveland Indians have played well at home this season (with the exception of this past weekend against the Detroit Tigers), the Arizona Diamondbacks have done the opposite in their friendly confines, posting a 14-29 home record (.326 winning percentage). Something will have to give starting Tuesday, as the Indians will put their road woes to the test (.368 road winning percentage) as they take on the Diamondbacks in a brief two-game set.
The Indians (37-39) stumbled at Progressive Field, dropping three straight to the Tigers, who are starting to heat up again. Cleveland lost a 6-4 ball game on Friday night, fighting back after a 5-0 deficit to fall just short. The Tigers won in extra innings on Saturday night, 5-4, after Joe Nathan blew a save in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out RBI-single by Michael Bourn. Josh Tomlin and the Indians’ defense fell apart in the fifth inning on Sunday, as the Tigers tabled seven runs on the way to a 10-4 blowout to claim the series sweep.
The Diamondbacks (32-47) lost two of three to the San Francisco Giants over the weekend before a day off on Monday. They won the opener on Friday, 4-1, as they limited the Giants to just five hits on the night. San Francisco held on for a 6-4 win on Saturday, dealing Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy his tenth loss of the season. The D’backs mustered just three hits on Sunday in a 4-1 loss as the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner allowed just one unearned run in eight-plus innings.
Wade Miley (3-6, 4.62 ERA) will take the mound for Arizona on Tuesday night. He has not won a start since his last interleague game on May 10th against Chicago, earning an 0-3 record in his seven starts since. Justin Masterson (4-5, 4.75) will oppose for Cleveland. He earned a no-decision in his last start after allowing one earned run on four hits in seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels. First pitch is scheduled for 9:40 PM ET from Chase Field.
Chase Anderson (5-2, 3.18) will wrap up the short set for the Diamondbacks at 9:40 PM ET on Wednesday night. The rookie right-hander was called up from Double-A Mobile in early May after starting the season 4-2 with 38 strikeouts in 39 innings and a 0.69 ERA. Indians manager Terry Francona will send Corey Kluber (6-5, 3.30) to the center of the diamond. After an amazing 4-0 May with six quality starts, Kluber is just 0-2 with a 4.18 ERA and .270 batting average against in four June appearances.
Both games of the short set will be broadcast by Cleveland on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. Fox Sports Arizona and Arizona Sports 98.7 FM will carry the Arizona broadcasts of the series.
The Diamondbacks’ disabled list is packed full of players, including five different pitchers.
Bronson Arroyo was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his 15-year career on June 16th with right elbow tendinitis. Both Daniel Hudson and Matt Reynolds are on the 60-day disabled list after Tommy John surgeries last year. Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez are both done for the season after the same procedures this year.
Mark Trumbo highlights the walking wounded fielders on the 15-day DL for Arizona. He is out with a stress fracture in his left foot in his first season in the desert. Third baseman Eric Chavez (sprained left knee) and A.J. Pollock (broken fourth right hand metacarpal) have no timetable for their return. Cliff Pennington could return in July from a sprained left thumb ligament that required surgery at the beginning of this month.
Several important bats in the Cleveland lineup have chilled off to icy cold numbers.
David Murphy has fallen into his worst stretch of the season. He has just one hit in his last 30 at bats (.033) with four walks and two runs scored in that stretch.
Since a three-hit effort against Boston on June 14th, Jason Kipnis has just four hits over his last 30 at bats with six strikeouts. He did string together hits in three straight games in the middle of the skid.
Nick Swisher, since returning from the disabled list on June 12th, has been all or nothing at the plate, and unfortunately it has been more nothing than all. He has five hits (three doubles, two home runs) and six RBI in those nine games. But he has struck out 18 times in 38 trips to the plate (47% of his plate appearances) and has not drawn a single walk. He is hitting .135 in June.
Paul Goldschmidt is a name that AL fans do not know well enough. The leading vote getter at first base in the National League after the last balloting update is hitting .308 on the season with 15 home runs and 52 RBI. He is coming off of a career season last year, when he hit .302 with 36 homers and 125 RBI. He led the NL in slugging and on-base plus slugging, total bases, home runs, runs batted in, intentional walks, and was third in walks. He won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at first base and was selected to the All-Star team.
Shortstop Chris Owings is on a six-game hitting streak (.450 average) and has hit safely in nine of his last ten (.353). In those last ten games, he has six singles, three doubles, two triples, one home run, four runs scored, and three runs batted in. He beat out Didi Gregorius, acquired as part of the three-team trade involving Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw prior to last season, in spring training for the starting shortstop position.
The Indians are one of three teams that the Diamondbacks have faced the fewest times in their brief organizational history. Cleveland holds a 7-5 advantage all-time. Arizona is 3-3 at home against them.
The two teams have not faced one another in almost three years. The Indians took two of three from the Diamondbacks in that series in Arizona, with Carlos Carrasco earning the win in a 6-2 final in their last matchup.
Indians fans will remember Charles Nagy for his 13 years on the mound pitching for Cleveland. Diamondbacks fans will remember him for his three years as pitching coach in Arizona on manager Kirk Gibson’s staff.
Nagy was drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 1988 draft and by 1990 was pitching on the big stage with Cleveland, appearing in nine games. He made 33 starts in each of the next two years, getting votes for Rookie of the Year in 1991 while going 10-15 and turning into an American League All-Star in 1992 with a 17-10 record and a 2.96 ERA. In that 252-inning campaign, he threw ten complete games and three shutouts.
In 1993, he started both the final Home Opener and the final game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, charged with losses in both games. Shoulder surgery limited him to just nine games that season, but starting with his final appearance in game 162 of the 1993 season, he would not miss another start until the 2000 season, when the injury bug clamped down on him hard for each of his final three seasons in an Indians uniform.
He hit his stride in 1994, beginning a run of six straight seasons of double digit wins and winning records. After the strike-shortened 1994 season, he won no fewer than 15 games in the next five seasons. He was an All-Star again in 1996 and was the starter for the AL team. He played in the Midsummer Classic one final time in 1999. He finished as high as fourth in the AL Cy Young voting in 1996, when he was 17-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 32 starts with five complete games.
He joined the San Diego Padres in 2003 but pitched in just five games in relief.
After his playing career, he returned to Cleveland as a special assistant for two seasons before moving on as a Triple-A pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels from 2006 to 2007 and with the Indians in 2010. He became pitching coach for Arizona in 2011, working with the club through the end of the 2013 season.
Nagy returned to the Indians organization in January when he was added as an instructor and special assistant to baseball operations. He was the club’s representative at the draft earlier this month.
Cleveland will take Thursday off before starting a three-game weekend series in the Pacific Northwest against the Seattle Mariners. Arizona will begin a nine-game-in-ten-days road trip in San Diego Friday.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer