Series Preview #29: New York Yankees (44-43) at Cleveland Indians (43-44)
Bob Toth | On 07, Jul 2014
The Derek Jeter retirement show continues on the road as the New York Yankees make their lone trip to Progressive Field this season to take on the Cleveland Indians Monday through Thursday evenings this week.
The Indians (43-44) climbed closer to the .500 mark again by taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. The Royals claimed the opener on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd, 7-1. The Indians bounced back with a 7-3 win on Saturday with three runs in the third and fifth innings, earning rookie T.J. House his first Major League win. Cleveland claimed the series on Sunday afternoon, 4-1, after scoring three early runs and getting eight and one-third innings from potential All-Star Corey Kluber.
The Yankees (44-43) are a winning ball club again after taking three of four in Minnesota. They won a 7-4 final on Thursday with big innings in the fifth and seventh. They snuck away with a 6-5 win on Friday as closer David Robertson earned his 20th save of the season. The Twins walked off a winner on Saturday, 2-1, in eleven innings on a botched bases loaded double play attempt by the Yankees catcher. The Yankees won the rubber match to avoid a split, 9-7, as Hiroki Kuroda won his sixth game and Robertson saved his 21st.
The Yankees and Indians both sit in third place in their respective divisions. The Yankees are three and a half games in back of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, while the Indians are six games in back of Detroit in the AL Central.
Justin Masterson (4-5, 5.16 ERA) will open the series for the Tribe on Monday night. His rollercoaster ride of a season continued in his last start against the Dodgers, when he lasted just three innings, but seven of his nine outs retired came on strikeouts. Shane Greene (0-0, 0.00) will oppose in just his second MLB game and first career start. He allowed three unearned runs and three walks in one-third of an inning in his debut in April. First pitch of the opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Trevor Bauer (2-4, 4.42) will take on Yankees rookie and All-Star right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-3, 2.27) in Tuesday’s 7:05 PM ET start. Bauer is 2-1 at home in five starts with a 3.48 ERA, compared to 0-3 in five road starts with a 5.48 ERA. Tanaka has factored in the decision in 15 of his 17 starts this season and in each of his last 12.
Josh Tomlin (5-6, 4.11) will look to bounce back from a rough start on Friday on Wednesday as he takes on newly acquired Brandon McCarthy (3-10, 5.01 with Arizona). Tomlin allowed five runs on ten hits in a loss to Kansas City on Friday and was hurt by a three-run bomb in his first start since his one-hitter. McCarthy is a familiar face to the Indians, as they faced him while a member of the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and Oakland Athletics before he joined the Diamondbacks. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Rookie left-hander House (1-2, 4.24) will wrap the series up on Thursday night at 7:05 PM ET. He logged his longest career start to date his last time out in earning his first career win. David Phelps (3-4, 4.01) will take the mound for the Yankees’ Joe Girardi. His splits could be favorable for him against a largely left-handed Cleveland lineup. Right-handers have hit .287 against the righty, but left-handers have hit just .211.
Monday’s series opener will be viewable on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio, ESPN, YES, and WKYC Channel 3 in the Cleveland broadcasting region. The remaining three games of the series will be shown on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and YES. Radio calls for all four games will be available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Yankees Radio Network.
Center fielder Michael Bourn joined designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list again on Sunday with a left hamstring strain. The contract of Tyler Holt was selected from Triple-A Columbus and he made his Major League debut defensively in the ninth inning that afternoon.
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan (sprained PCL in his right knee) continues his rehabilitation in Goodyear while residing on the 60-day disabled list.
The Indians acquired outfielder Chris Dickerson from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday afternoon for a player to be named later. Catcher George Kottaras was once again designated for assignment by the club.
The Yankees designated veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano for assignment on Sunday. Pitcher Bruce Billings was selected to replace him on the roster from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also acquired starting pitcher McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday in exchange for former Indians farmhand Vidal Nuno.
New York is down three starters from their rotation. Ivan Nova is out for the year after Tommy John surgery in April. C.C. Sabathia is also on the 60-day disabled list as his right knee injury could end his season. Michael Pineda, he of the pine tar substance on his neck earlier this season, could return in August from a right shoulder muscle injury.
After establishing a new career high in home runs and putting himself on pace to surpass several other offensive categories, Michael Brantley punched a much-deserved ticket to the Midsummer Classic next Tuesday with his selection to the AL squad on Sunday night. Brantley is hitting a career-best .321 on the season with a .385 on-base percentage and .511 slugging percentage. His 13 home runs passed his best of ten set last season and he is amongst the AL leaders with 57 RBI. He has also added 20 doubles and ten stolen bases in ten attempts. July has not slowed him down, as he is hitting .409 for the month so far.
Indians starting pitcher Kluber is a part of the Final Vote. With his dominant win on Sunday over the Royals, he improved to 8-6 on the season in 19 starts. He has posted a 2.86 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while consistently appearing amongst the league’s leaders in strikeouts this season. He is currently fourth in the AL with 137.
The Yankees will send three of their own to the All-Star Game, including the final trip for Jeter. Jeter is hitting .273 in his last season of pro ball with a pair of home runs and 23 runs batted in.
Joining Jeter in the Twin Cities are a pair of first time All-Stars in Tanaka and Dellin Betances. The 25-year-old Tanaka is 12-3 on the season with a 2.27 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 130 strikeouts in his first season in the Majors after signing from Japan. The 26-year-old right-hander Betances is 4-0 on the season in 37 relief appearances, registering 12 holds, a 1.61 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP, and has struck out 78 batters in 50 1/3 innings.
The paths and histories of the Indians and Yankees franchises traces back all the way to 1901, when both broke in with the American League. The Yankees, then the Baltimore Orioles, would eventually become the New York Highlanders two years later before changing their name to the Yankees before the 1913 season.
The rivalry for the Indians with the Yankees has resulted in one of the worst winning percentages for the club in the franchise’s history. Cleveland has won 871 games while losing 1,106 (.441). They have fared slightly better at home, posting a .491 winning percentage there compared to a .390 in the Big Apple.
A total of 246 different players have worn pinstripes or represented the league on the shores of Lake Erie in their shared histories.
Some notable recent names of the last 20 years to do so include Paul Assenmacher, Bartolo Colon, Alvaro Espinoza, Tony Fernandez, Cecil Fielder, Giambi, Travis Hafner, David Justice, Kenny Lofton, Eric Plunk, Sabathia, Richie Sexson, Jake Westbrook, Bob Wickman, and Jaret Wright.
Former 1926 AL MVP George Burns played for both franchise during the 1920s. Rocky Colavito, after two different stints in Cleveland in the 1950s and 1960s, ended his career with 39 games for New York in 1968. Former single-season home run king Roger Maris broke in to the Majors with Cleveland in 1957 before winning back-to-back MVP awards in 1960 and 1961 in New York.
Several other names made stops in each city before heading to Cooperstown. Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski spent nine seasons in Cleveland from 1916 to 1924 and ended his big league career with twelve games in New York in 1928. Second baseman Joe Gordon won World Series with both clubs; he won in 1938, 1939, 1941, and 1943 in New York and 1948 in Cleveland before later managing the Tribe from 1958 to 1960. Pitchers Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry each made stops in both cities during their 20-plus year careers. Outfielder Dave Winfield played his best nine seasons in stripes before ending his career in Cleveland in 1995.
With one final series remaining before the All-Star Break, the Indians will host the Chicago White Sox for three games over the weekend. The Yankees will conclude their eleven-game road trip with a three-game set at Oriole Park at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images