Series Preview #37: Cleveland Indians (57-58) at New York Yankees (60-54)
Bob Toth | On 08, Aug 2014
The Cleveland Indians have been a very average looking baseball team throughout the season and their record has shown it. As they try to keep the American League Wild Card race in sight, they will have to take down one of the teams in front of them, the New York Yankees, this weekend to help keep things close.
Cleveland (57-58) heads to the Big Apple to continue their roller coaster ride of a season. The team, desperate for a long winning streak, instead wins a few, then loses a few, and yet somehow is still within striking distance as an easier slate over the final two months of the season gives them a glimmer of hope. They did not, however, play like a team with playoff aspirations this week, as after they won 7-1 on Monday night behind Corey Kluber, they dropped a 9-2 final Tuesday to end a ten-game home winning streak against the Reds before losing 8-3 on Wednesday and 4-0 on Thursday to extend their road losing streak in Cincinnati to eight.
New York (60-54) is the reason this week that the Indians are still technically close in the division. While the Indians lost three of their four games, so did the Detroit Tigers on their voyage to NYC. New York outscored Detroit eleven to six over the four games, with three of them decided by one run. Their only loss came Tuesday night in 12 innings, 4-3.
An old friend will be on the mound for the Yankees on Friday night in the series’ 7:05 PM ET start. Esmil Rogers (1-0, 5.84 ERA) will make his first start of the season for the Yankees. He had appeared in four scoreless innings in relief after being acquired off waivers on July 31st from Toronto, where he earned no record in 16 games but had a 6.97 ERA. Trevor Bauer (4-6, 4.20) will oppose. He pitched a career-high seven and one-third innings in his last outing, a no-decision against Texas.
Brandon McCarthy (4-0, 2.08) will make his second start for the Yankees against the Indians this season in Saturday afternoon’s 1:05 PM start time. He allowed just one run on nine hits in his first New York start after being dealt from Arizona, where he was 3-10 in 18 games to start the season. Kluber (12-6, 2.55) will go for the Indians. He destroyed his competition in July, going 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts, and looked the same in a win on Monday over the Reds. He allowed one run on six hits in seven and one-third innings with seven strikeouts.
Hiroki Kuroda (7-7, 3.97) will wrap the season series up for the Yankees at 1:05 PM on Sunday afternoon. He earned a no-decision against Detroit his last time out in a head-to-head battle with newly acquired David Price. Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 3.88) will make what could just be a spot start. He started the season in the rotation, but after a 0-3 start with a 6.95 ERA, he was moved into relief. There, he has gone 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the YES Network will air the games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. FS1 will carry the Saturday afternoon broadcast. Radio broadcasts for all three games will be available on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and WFAN 660 in New York.
The Yankees have owned the Indians all-time, as they are responsible for the club’s worst winning percentage against any team Cleveland has played more than 15 times in its history. New York is 1,088-853 against Cleveland and is 210 games to the positive in the win column (590-380) at home against the Tribe.
The Indians and Yankees split a four-game set at Progressive Field earlier this year, trading off wins in the series. Carrasco and Bauer earned wins.
Center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) has begun a rehab assignment in his quest to return from the 15-day disabled list. Designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation) is on the 60-day DL.
The Indians roster continued to shake up during the week.
Danny Salazar was optioned Thursday after his last start. C.C. Lee was recalled from Columbus and Carrasco resumed his spot in the starting rotation. Fan favorite reliever Vinnie Pestano was dealt Thursday to the Los Angeles Angels for minor league starter Mike Clevinger. Outfielder Tyler Holt was optioned on Tuesday to Triple-A to make room for pitcher Josh Tomlin, who will now work out of the bullpen. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan was activated from the 60-day disabled list and given his release.
The Yankees added former Indians reliever Rich Hill to the roster on Tuesday after an impressive run at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Pitcher Jeff Francis was released and reliever Matt Thornton was dealt to the Washington Nationals via waiver claim.
First baseman Mark Teixeira is day-to-day with a lacerated finger that required stitches.
David Phelps was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation on Monday. Masahiro Tanaka remains optimistic that he will not require Tommy John surgery for the partial tear of his UCL in his right elbow and could return in September.
Pitcher Michael Pineda has started a rehab assignment while trying to return from a right shoulder muscle injury that landed him on the 60-day DL. Also on the 60-day DL are CC Sabathia (right knee surgery) and Ivan Nova (Tommy John); both will miss the rest of the season.
Yan Gomes has now hit in 13 straight games (.347 batting average), 16 of 17 (.367), and 20 of 22 (.387). He is just two games short of the longest streak by an Indians player this season (Michael Brantley – 15 games). His 16 home runs this season are fourth best in all of baseball and just one short of the most in the American League. His .285 batting average for the year is also fourth best in baseball.
Speaking of Brantley, his 139 hits and .320 batting average are good for fifth-best on the MLB leaderboards this season. Teammate Carlos Santana has found other ways of getting on base to be rather effective as well, as he leads the MLB in walks with 81, six greater than the next closest player.
Jason Kipnis was 6-for-15 (.400) in the series with the Reds with six singles, a walk, and two runs scored. It boosted his season batting average by seven points. David Murphy has hit in five straight games.
For the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury has racked up 29 stolen bases, the fifth-most in baseball and second-highest in the American League. He has a modest four-game hitting streak going after getting six hits in 15 at bats (.400) in his series against the Tigers.
Brett Gardner is fourth in the AL with six triples. He is hitting .385 over his last ten games. Derek Jeter has hit in all six games so far in July and in 11 of 12 straight games overall. He is hitting .310 over his last ten and .276 for the season in his farewell tour.
Carlos Beltran has hit in 13 of his last 14 games. He has hit a single in each of the last three games after ending his ten-game streak. During the ten-game run, he hit .447 and had seven multi-hit games.
With first place on the line, the Indians hosted the New York Yankees in a doubleheader at Cleveland Stadium on Sunday, August 8th, 1948.
The Indians had split the first two games of the series with their hated rivals. In front of 71,268 fans on Friday night, Bob Feller earned his eleventh win of the season in a 9-7 win, despite allowing seven runs on ten hits and five walks in seven and one-third innings. He did aid his own cause at the plate, as he had a pair of singles and drove in two. Former Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon hit his 21st homer of the season, a three-run shot, to help the Indians to their sixth straight win.
The Yankees won the Saturday afternoon contest, 5-0. Vic Raschi of New York struck out seven and allowed just four hits in a complete game win, his 14th of the year. Bob Lemon took his tenth loss after allowing five runs on eight hits in eight innings. Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio drove in three of the five runs with a pair of doubles.
With 73,484 in attendance for a doubleheader on Sunday, the Indians scored seven runs in the final two innings to overcome a 6-1 advantage for an 8-6 win. Player-manager Lou Boudreau’s pinch-hit, two-run single with two outs in the seventh tied the game and first baseman Eddie Robinson’s two-run blast with two outs in the bottom of the eighth was the difference. Satchel Paige earned his third win of the season with five outs in relief.
The Indians gained some more room in the American League race with a 2-1 victory in the nightcap. A run driven in during the seventh inning by Jim Hegan scored Gordon with the decisive run. Robinson homered again in the fifth for the Tribe’s other run.
The four-game, three-day series drew a crowd of 188,081 fans to the shores of Lake Erie.
The Indians will return home after their brief five-game road trip and will enjoy a pair of days off this week. Sandwiched in between will be a two-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees will head to Baltimore for three with the AL East leading Orioles before a day off on Thursday.
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images