Series Preview #35: Texas Rangers (43-65) at Cleveland Indians (53-55)
Bob Toth | On 01, Aug 2014
The non-waiver trade deadline came and went Thursday and hopes for substantial upgrades to the Cleveland Indians roster went unfulfilled for the fan base. The team then went out and dropped the series finale to Seattle to lose both the series and season series to the Mariners. The Tribe will try to get back on track, sans Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera, as they host the Texas Rangers for three this weekend.
The Indians (53-55) dropped a 5-2 decision on Tuesday night as four run-scoring extra bases hits in the fourth inning proved to be the difference. Corey Kluber ousted Felix Hernandez on Wednesday behind an 85-pitch three-hit complete game 2-0 shutout. A two-run shot in the eighth by the Mariners’ Mike Zunino slipped Seattle by Cleveland, 6-5, on Thursday night. Despite the subpar series, the Indians lost no ground to the Detroit Tigers, who dropped two of three to Chicago.
The Rangers (43-65) have easily been one of the most disappointing stories in baseball this season. After a race to the finish line last season, the Rangers played for a shot at the American League Wild Card game and fell short. This season, they have been decimated by injuries and have long since been a non-factor in the AL West.
The Rangers took two of three from the New York Yankees during the week at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. A four-run fifth paced the Rangers to a 4-2 win on Monday. The Yankees prevailed in a slugfest on Tuesday night, winning 12-11. Three first inning runs would be all the Rangers would need on Wednesday night in claiming a 3-2 victory to edge the Yankees in the series.
Danny Salazar (3-4, 4.96 ERA) takes center stage at 7:05 PM ET on Friday night as he squares off against Jerome Williams (1-0, 1.50). Salazar won consecutive starts for the first time in his career in his first two games back to the starting rotation after his demotion earlier this season. Williams will make his second start with his second club this season, having started the year 1-4 in 26 games with Houston while posting a 6.04 ERA. Dollar hot dogs and fireworks will be on the agenda for fans in attendance.
T.J. House (1-2, 4.50) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus for Saturday’s 7:05 PM ET start. He pitched five innings in his last outing on July 21st in a no-decision against Minnesota. Miles Mikolas (1-3, 8.54) will counter for the Rangers. He has allowed 25 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings pitched this season. The Indians will unveil the statue of Jim Thome prior to the game and will celebrate the night with post-game fireworks again.
Trevor Bauer (4-6, 4.25) will have his hands full on Sunday afternoon as the Rangers send Yu Darvish (10-6, 2.90) to the mound. Bauer allowed a season-high five earned runs and two hit batters in his last start against Seattle. Darvish earned a win against the Indians almost two months ago in Texas, allowing four earned runs on nine hits in seven innings with eight K’s. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio will air all three games of the series. TXA 21 will broadcast Friday night’s game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area while Fox Sports Southwest will handle the latter two games of the series. Radio broadcasts of the series will be made on the affiliates of both the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and Rangers Radio Network.
LAST TIME, DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
The Indians, in their lone visit to Arlington this season, took three of four from the Rangers. They lost the opener to Darvish before winning three straight. The last time the clubs faced one another, the Indians stomped the Rangers by a 17-7 final, paced by 12 runs in the first four innings and a nine RBI game for Lonnie Chisenhall. He was 5-for-5 on the night with a single, double, and three home runs.
The Indians are 307-332 all-time against the Texas Rangers franchise. They are 156-158 when playing in Cleveland. Since the Rangers left the nation’s capital prior to the 1972 season, when they were the Washington Senators, they own a 241-201 record against the Indians.
The Indians designated starting pitcher Zach McAllister for assignment with the intention on optioning him to Triple-A Columbus on Friday afternoon. Outfielder Tyler Holt has been recalled by Cleveland.
Center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) is on the 15-day disabled list for the Indians. Designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation) and outfielder Nyjer Morgan (sprained PCL in his right knee) remain on the 60-day DL.
Outfielder Chris Dickerson left Thursday’s game with a sore left knee. His status is unknown at the time of this post.
The Rangers have 13 players on the disabled list or out for the season.
Starting pitcher Derek Holland, on the 60-day DL after January knee surgery, began a rehab assignment on Wednesday and could return later this month. Also eyeing August returns from the 15-day DL are outfielder Jake Smolinski (cracked bone in left foot) and catcher Geovany Soto (right groin strain). Outfielder Engel Beltre, on the 60-day DL after right tibia surgery, could return in September.
First baseman Prince Fielder (neck surgery), pitcher Pedro Figueroa (Tommy John surgery), starter Matt Harrison (spine surgery), infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff (back surgery), first baseman Mitch Moreland (ankle surgery), pitchers Alexi Ogando (right elbow inflammation) and Martin Perez (Tommy John surgery), second baseman Jurickson Profar (torn right shoulder muscle), and pitcher Tanner Scheppers (right elbow inflammation) are expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Pitcher Nick Tepesch had his start this series pushed back while dealing with left knee soreness and hopes to throw a bullpen session on Friday. The disabled list is still a possibility.
The Rangers designated northeast Ohio product, pitcher Ryan Feierabend, for assignment prior to Friday’s game. Another somewhat local talent, 6’7″ right-handed relief prospect Phil Klein of Columbus and Youngstown State University, will join the Texas bullpen. Klein has not allowed a run in 18 innings of work since being promoted to Triple-A to give him a 0.52 ERA combined on the season.
Carlos Santana has been on a tear in his last ten games. He is hitting .486 with six home runs and 12 RBI in that stretch and has reached base safely in all ten. He ended an eight-game hitting streak on Wednesday against Hernandez.
David Murphy is hitting .323 over the last ten games. He has hits in seven of his last nine games, which included a five game hitting streak.
Catcher Yan Gomes has a seven game hitting streak intact and has hit successfully in ten straight starts.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who has made a career out of killing Cleveland pitching, comes to town hot on a seven game hitting streak. He is a career .398 hitter at Progressive Field in five years and has hit .354 lifetime against the Indians, 29 points higher than the next closest American League opponent.
Outfielder Alex Rios, whose name came up in some trade rumors in the last few days, ended a five game hitting streak on Wednesday night. He is hitting .533 against Cleveland pitching this season, .290 over his last ten games, and .304 for the season.
J.P. Arencibia hit .255 in 13 games in his return to the Rangers roster in the middle of July. He drove in 16 runs, several courtesy of his five home runs in half of a month of play.
THE 1988 CLEVELAND COACHING CONNECTION
Rangers skipper Ron Washington is in his eighth season at the helm of the Texas ball club. He enters this series against former teammate Terry Francona’s club with a .526 career winning percentage and two AL Pennants under his belt.
Washington spent 20 years playing professional baseball, starting in 1971 as a 19-year-old in the Kansas City farm system. After the 1976 season, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers and made his big league debut in 1977, playing in ten games and hitting .368 in limited action.
The brief success would not amount to much for the middle infielder, as it would be four more years before he would return to the Major Leagues with Minnesota.
He spent parts of six straight seasons in the Twin Cities, playing second, short, and third. He was released by the club prior to the 1987 season and signed with the Baltimore Orioles, playing one season there before signing as a free agent with the Indians in late December of 1987. With the Indians in 1988, he hit .256 in 69 games.
He played on the club with three other players who are currently MLB managers – Francona, San Diego’s Bud Black, and Boston’s John Farrell. The hitting coach that season for the club was Charlie Manuel, who had spent time as a minor league manager and would later lead the Indians and Philadelphia Phillies. Other players on the roster have also seen time in the dugout – Dave Clark is the current third base coach for the Detroit Tigers and managed 13 games for Houston in 2009, Jay Bell is the bench coach and Brook Jacoby the hitting coach in Cincinnati, Rod Nichols was a bullpen coach for Philadelphia last season, Chris Bando was a minor league manager for Milwaukee and Cleveland, and Cory Snyder is the current hitting coach for Seattle’s Triple-A Tacoma club.
Washington played seven games for Houston in 1989 before spending time back in the minors again at the twilight of his career. He hung up his playing cleats in 1990.
The Indians will host the Cincinnati Reds on Monday and Tuesday in the first half of a home-and-home series this week with the team. The Rangers will move their road trip to Chicago for three with the White Sox before returning to Texas for three games in Houston with the Astros.
Photo: Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer