Series Preview #36: Cincinnati Reds (56-55) and Cleveland Indians (56-55)
Bob Toth | On 04, Aug 2014
The 2014 rendition of the Battle of Ohio returns this week as the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds play a four game home-and-home series, beginning Monday and Tuesday at Progressive Field, as the two clubs look to finally find a decisive winner in the contest.
The Indians (56-55) got back on track over the weekend by sweeping the Texas Rangers. On Friday night, the Indians offense erupted for ten runs and 13 hits off of the Texas starting pitcher in a 12-2 final. The Cleveland pitching staff combined on a five-hit shutout on Saturday in a 2-0 final. A game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off blast from Michael Brantley lifted the Tribe to a 4-3 come from behind victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Reds (56-55) went into Miami and took three of four from the Marlins in a weekend set. A rally-ending out at home plate on Thursday night was overturned by the clear path to the plate rule and opened the door for three Reds runs in a 3-1 victory. A three-run sixth inning paved the way for a 5-2 Cincinnati win on Friday. A walk-off single in the tenth inning gave the hometown Marlins a 2-1 win on Saturday night. The Reds bounced back, scoring multiple runs in three different innings on the way to a 7-3 victory on Sunday afternoon.
A pair of first time All-Stars will face off in the Monday night opener from Cleveland at 7:05 PM ET. Corey Kluber (11-6, 2.61 ERA) will start for the Tribe, coming off of a complete game three-hit masterpiece against Seattle. He was 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five July starts, pitching into the ninth inning in four of the outings. Alfredo Simon (12-6, 2.84) will oppose for the Reds. He gave the Reds a quality start in his last outing, but his teammates could not prevent him from losing his third straight decision.
Josh Tomlin (5-7, 4.47) will make his return to the rotation on Tuesday night. He was demoted to Triple-A Columbus after another subpar outing to end his July with a 0-2 record and a 6.45 ERA. Johnny Cueto (12-6, 2.05) will continue his solid season on the mound. He was 4-1 in six July starts but had a 2.58 ERA, his highest monthly ERA this season. First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM ET.
Mat Latos (3-3, 3.07) will take the ball Wednesday in the Cincinnati portion of the series at 7:10 PM ET from Great American Ball Park. He has provided the Reds with quality starts in his last two outings, despite allowing four walks in each of his last two games. Danny Salazar (4-4, 4.45) will counter for Cleveland while looking to maintain his strong efforts since his recall from Columbus. He has won three straight decisions with consecutive quality starts.
Homer Bailey (8-5, 3.89) will wrap up the split series on Thursday night. He has earned four straight no decisions despite allowing just eight earned runs in his last four starts and 26 innings. Lefty T.J. House (1-2, 4.09) struck out seven in five innings of three-hit ball in his last start. Game time is 7:10 PM ET.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio will air all four games of the series. Fox Sports Ohio will air the game for those outside of the Cleveland viewing market. MLB.TV will air the opener Monday as their Free Game of the Day. For those away from viewing devices or those whom prefer the radio broadcasts, seek out your local affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network or Cincinnati Reds Radio Network.
The Indians hold a three game edge in the head-to-head matchups in the interstate battle. In 85 games, Cleveland has won 44 times. The Indians are 26-18 at home, while the Reds are 23-18 in Cincinnati.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Home field has truly been the advantage for both teams in recent history. The Indians have won nine straight games at Progressive Field against the Reds dating back to 2010. In similar fashion, the Reds have won six straight against the Indians in Cincinnati.
Nick Swisher left Sunday’s game in the ninth inning with a strained right wrist. He had struck out in all three plate appearances prior. Catcher Yan Gomes did not start for the second consecutive game but entered as a pinch hitter in the ninth. He has been dealing with stiffness in his neck.
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.
The Reds are down five players to the disabled list.
Stars Brandon Phillips (left thumb surgery) and first baseman Joey Votto (distal left quadriceps strain) are both on the 15-day disabled list. Also on the 15-day DL is pitcher Logan Ondrusek, who is out with a strained right shoulder.
HOT OR NOT
David Murphy tortured his former Rangers teammates over the weekend, batting 6-for-10 with a homer and five runs batted in. He is hitting .452 over his last ten games.
Brantley has hit in four straight games and all have been multi-hit efforts. He is 9-for-17 during the stretch (.529) with a home run and four runs driven in. He has four hits in seven career plate appearances against Simon with a walk, two doubles, and three runs batted in. He has homered off of Bailey in nine trips to the plate and has driven in four runs against him.
Gomes has hit safely in nine straight games, going 12-for-34 (.353) with a home run and seven runs batted in during his streak.
Swisher was 7-for-21 (.333) during his six game hitting streak that ended with a three strikeout performance against Texas on Sunday afternoon.
All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco is having a career year for the Reds. A career .225 hitter coming into the season, he is hitting .295 this season with 18 home runs in 73 games. He had 16 in the first 175 games of his big league career.
Third baseman Todd Frazier, who made his first All-Star team this season as well, is also boasting career numbers. His 20 home runs have surpassed his previous season best by one and his .282 batting average is heartily above his .249 lifetime mark.
Potent slugger Jay Bruce has been anything but this season. A run-producing machine with power for the Reds for the last six years has hit just ten home runs and driven in 43 while batting .216. He had averaged 32 home runs and 102 runs batted in over each of his last three seasons.
Buddy Bell is one of many players to suit up for both the Indians and Reds organizations. But he was not the first in his family to suit up for one of the clubs and proved not to be the last.
Buddy was a Moeller High School (Cincinnati) graduate and attended Miami University. The third baseman was a 16th round pick by the Indians in the 1969 amateur draft. He reached the Majors by 1972 and as a 21-year-old was selected to his first of five All-Star games. After seven seasons in Cleveland, he was traded to the Texas Rangers, with whom he would make four more All-Star teams. With Texas, he would win six consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He was traded to the Reds during the 1985 season and played parts of four years there until he was traded to Houston. He signed with Texas as a free agent following that season and spent 34 games with the Rangers to end his final of 18 big league seasons in 1989.
Buddy’s father, Gus Bell, was an outfielder in the Majors from 1950 to 1964. He debuted at 21 with the Pirates and moved on to Cincinnati two years later. He would nine years in red, batting .288 while becoming a four-time All-Star.
David played for six clubs over 12 seasons after being drafted in the seventh round of the 1990 draft out of Moeller High by the Indians. He debuted with Cleveland in 1995 and appeared in two games before he was traded to St. Louis in the Ken Hill trade. He later returned to the Tribe after being selected off of waivers from the Cardinals less than three years later but was dealt to Seattle for Joey Cora on August 31st, 1998.
Mike was a first round pick by the Rangers, 30th overall, in the 1993 draft, also out of Moeller High. After parts of eight seasons in the minors, he debuted with Cincinnati in 19 games in 2000, but never again returned to the Show, spending another five years in the minors before hanging it up.
Buddy will turn 63 later this month.
The Tribe will leave Ohio and head to the Big Apple, where they will take on the New York Yankees in a three-game set this coming weekend before returning home. The Reds will play host to the Marlins before welcoming in the Boston Red Sox for a pair.
Photo: Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer