Series Preview #27: Cleveland Indians (39-42) at Los Angeles Dodgers (47-37)
Bob Toth | On 30, Jun 2014
The Cleveland Indians will wrap up their eight-game road trip with the rare stop in Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers for three at Chavez Ravine beginning Monday night.
The Indians (39-42) dropped two of three to the Mariners in Seattle over the weekend. Cleveland lost a 3-2 final on Friday despite a quality start from Trevor Bauer. Josh Tomlin pitched a one-hit masterpiece, allowing a fifth inning single while facing just one batter over the minimum in a 5-0 win on Saturday night. Felix Hernandez and Fernando Rodney returned the favor on Sunday, combining on a one-hit shutout of the Indians, 3-0.
The Dodgers (47-37) took three of four from St. Louis over the weekend in the beginning series of their homestand and are tied with the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West. They edged out a 1-0 victory in a pitchers’ duel on Thursday on an RBI-single in the eighth inning for the game’s lone run. St. Louis rebounded with a 3-1 win on Friday as Jhonny Peralta’s two-run double in the fifth proved to be the difference. L.A. erupted for seven runs in the first two innings on the way to a 9-1 win on Saturday and Clayton Kershaw was dominant once again in a 6-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon.
Of the 29 franchises the Indians have faced in their history, the Dodgers are the team they have faced the least in the regular season. The two clubs have squared off for two series and six total games, once in 2003 in Cleveland and the last time in 2008 in Los Angeles. The Indians were swept in three close games in 2003, but took two of three from the Dodgers in Los Angeles back in 2008.
Three of the six games played between the two teams have been decided in extra innings.
Dan Haren (7-4, 3.83 ERA) will start for the Dodgers in Monday’s series opener at 10:10 PM ET. He lasted just four and one-third innings in his last outing at Kansas City and gave up four earned runs. Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.09) will counter on the mound for the Indians. He earned the win his last time out and struck out eight while limiting Arizona to four hits and no runs over seven innings.
Josh Beckett (5-4, 2.11) and Justin Masterson (4-5, 5.03) will oppose Tuesday night in the 10:10 PM ET first pitch. Since his no-hitter against Philadelphia on May 25th, Beckett is just 2-3 in six starts but has allowed just seven earned runs in that span (1.66 ERA). Masterson will start with two extra days of rest after being scratched from a start in Seattle on Sunday because of right knee soreness. Fans in attendance at the game will receive an adult replica Brooklyn Dodgers jersey of Don Newcombe, who pitched for both teams during his ten year career that spanned from 1949 to 1960.
Hyun-jin Ryu (9-4, 3.12) will wrap up the third series all-time between the two clubs in Wednesday’s 3:10 PM ET getaway day start. He has never faced any current member of the Indians. Bauer (2-4, 4.39) will take center stage for the Tribe. He is 0-3 in four road starts this season with a 5.64 ERA, compared to 2-1 in five home starts with a 3.48 ERA.
All three games of the series can be seen on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and heard on any of the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. SportsNet LA and 570 Fox Sports L.A. will handle the Dodgers broadcasts, led by the legendary Vin Scully.
Four pitchers occupy the 60-day DL for the Dodgers, including Chad Billingsley (torn right elbow flexor tendon surgery), Scott Elbert (June 2013 Tommy John surgery), Onelki Garcia (November 2013 left elbow surgery), and Chris Withrow (June 2014 Tommy John surgery). Elbert has begun a rehab assignment. Garcia has not been ruled out for a return at some point this season yet.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is having difficulty staying in the lineup. He missed four games with what was called an arthritic right shoulder and played just two innings upon his return before leaving with left calf tightness. His status is considered day-to-day.
LUCK OF THE DRAW
The Indians will avoid arguably the two best pitchers on the loaded Dodgers staff in Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Kershaw is 9-2 this season with a 2.04 ERA in 12 starts and has a 15-strikeout no-hitter under his belt this season. Greinke is 10-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 17 starts.
The Dodgers as a pitching staff have the third best ERA in all of baseball. Their starting rotation leads the National League with 41 wins and a 3.03 ERA.
Michael Brantley’s push for an All-Star nod has not let up. He remains on the outskirts of a crowded race for the final AL outfield spot, with two spots already well locked up by leading vote getter Jose Bautista and Angels’ phenom Mike Trout. The Tribe left fielder is fifth in the American League with a .318 batting average, fifth with a .386 on-base percentage, ninth with his .510 slugging percentage, and eighth in on-base plus slugging with a .896 mark. His twelve home runs are tied for the team lead with Carlos Santana and his 53 RBI are tops on the team.
Lonnie Chisenhall continues to inch closer to a chance for the AL batting title. He is hitting .333 in the last 30 days and leads the AL in that span with 24 RBI. His .350 batting average for the season would trail Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki by just .003 for the Major League lead.
Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon is on a tear at the plate. He is hitting .481 over his last seven games with 13 hits. He is riding a five game hitting streak with three multi-hit games, including back-to-back three hit games against the Cardinals. He is now hitting .295 on the season with 40 stolen bases, leading all of baseball.
Yasiel Puig has continued to excel in his sophomore season with the Dodgers. The right fielder is hitting .312 on the season with eleven home runs and 45 RBI. He is sixth in the NL in hitting and on-base percentage, seventh in slugging, and tied for eighth in triples with four. He is also fourth in the NL in times caught stealing, with success in just seven of 14 attempts this season.
Monday marks the 19th anniversary of the 3,000th hit in the career of former Indians and Dodgers player and future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.
While with the Indians on June 30th, 1995, Murray batted fifth in the lineup and played DH at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a game against the Twins. In the sixth inning against Minnesota starter Mike Trombley, he slapped a single through the right side for his 3,000 hit, moving Albert Belle to third while becoming the 20th player in Major League history to reach the milestone. After a strikeout by Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Belle scored to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. They would go on to win, 4-1, giving Dennis Martinez a 7-0 record to start the season with Jose Mesa earning his 20th save with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.
Murray began his career with the Baltimore Orioles. He was drafted in the third round of the 1973 draft and debuted at 21 years of age in 1977. He won the AL Rookie of the Year Award that season after hitting .283 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI. He made the first of eight All-Star teams the next season, nearly duplicating his previous stats with a .285 average, 27 home runs, and 95 RBI. He was an All-Star again in 1981 and would represent the Orioles on the team through the 1986 season.
In the offseason of 1988, he was dealt by the Orioles to the Dodgers in exchange for three players. He spent the 1989 through 1991 seasons in Los Angeles, hitting a career-best .330 in 1990 and making his final All-Star appearance in 1991. He signed as a free agent with the New York Mets in 1992, spending two seasons in the Big Apple.
Murray joined the Indians in 1994 at the age of 38, spending parts of three seasons with the club while providing veteran leadership to a young ball club. He hit 50 home runs in his time in Cleveland before being dealt back to the Orioles midseason for reliever Kent Mercker. He split his final Major League season in 1997 in California between the Anaheim Angels and Dodgers again.
Murray was enshrined in the illustrious National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in his first year of eligibility in 2003.
The Indians will enjoy a day off on Thursday before opening a ten-game homestand, starting Friday with three against the Kansas City Royals. Los Angeles will hit the road after the completion of their seven-game homestand to take on the Colorado Rockies for four games in Denver starting Thursday.
Photo: AP Photo/Jim S. Warren