Series Preview #38: Arizona Diamondbacks (51-67) at Cleveland Indians (59-59)
Bob Toth | On 12, Aug 2014
Monday night, there was a changing of the guard at the top of the American League Central Division. A Kansas City win combined with a Detroit Tigers loss moved the Royals into the driver’s seat, proving that nothing is settled in the Central. Now five and a half games in back of KC, the Cleveland Indians will look to stay relevant in both the divisional and AL Wild Card races as they host the Arizona Diamondbacks in the club’s final interleague series of 2014.
Cleveland (59-59), despite struggling to stay afloat this season with ineffective starting pitching, horrendous defense, inconsistent offense, and injuries, still finds itself within striking distance for a playoff opportunity. They climbed back to .500 again this weekend after taking the final two games of their three-game series at Yankee Stadium. They dropped Friday’s opener by a 10-6 final, as five runs in the first and sixth innings were too much to overcome. They got the usual stellar outing from Corey Kluber on Saturday and his relief corps secured the 3-0 shutout. A successful spot start from Carlos Carrasco paced the club to a 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon.
Arizona (51-67) has been ravaged by injuries this season and have never recovered. They won the two first games of their series at home against the Colorado Rockies before losing the final game in extra innings on Sunday. They won 5-3 on Friday night and 14-4 in an offensive explosion on Saturday. The Rockies scored a pair of runs in the tenth inning for a 5-3 win on Sunday to avoid the sweep.
T.J. House (1-3, 4.13 ERA) will make his second career interleague start with Tuesday’s 7:05 PM ET scheduled first pitch. He is 0-1 in four starts since his first career win with a 3.92 ERA. Josh Collmenter (8-6, 4.09) will oppose for Kirk Gibson’s Diamondbacks. “Tomahawk” has allowed a .300 batting average against left-handed hitters this season, a potential disadvantage for him against Cleveland’s lefty heavy lineup.
Trevor Bauer (4-7, 4.52) will make his first career start against the team that drafted him three years ago on Wednesday night as he takes on former Indians farmhand Vidal Nuno (0-3, 4.05). Bauer is 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA and .264 batting average against at Progressive Field this season. The lefty Nuno, a 48th round pick of Cleveland in 2009, was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 17 games with the Yankees prior to his trade in July to Arizona. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Television broadcasts of both games will be available on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Arizona. Radio versions will be provided by the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Network.
Cleveland holds an 8-6 advantage in the brief series between the two clubs dating back to 2002. The Indians are 4-2 in games on the shores of Lake Erie.
The clubs split their two-game set earlier this season. Arizona won a 14-inning marathon in the opener, with Collmenter getting the win with an inning of relief. Kluber won a 6-1 decision in the second game.
The Indians placed right fielder David Murphy (right abdominal strain) and first baseman/DH Nick Swisher (right knee soreness) on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday after injuries sustained in Cleveland’s win on Saturday. Murphy is expected to miss four to five weeks. Outfielder Tyler Holt and utility man Zach Walters were recalled from Triple-A Columbus.
Center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) continues to work his way back in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus. Designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation) is on the 60-day DL.
The Diamondbacks have a frightening number of players out with Tommy John procedures. Pitchers Bronson Arroyo, Patrick Corbin, David Hernandez, Daniel Hudson, and Matt Reynolds have all missed time this season after undergoing the surgery. Hudson and Reynolds may return in September.
Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt suffered a broken left hand when hit by a pitch in a pinch-hitting performance against Pittsburgh and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Outfielders A.J. Pollock (right hand surgery) and Cody Ross (left calf strain) could return from the 15-day disabled list sometime this month. Infielder Chris Owings is also out with a left shoulder strain.
Former Indians third base prospect Andy Marte was sent to Triple-A Reno by Arizona after he cleared waivers.
FILLING THE STAT SHEET
Jason Kipnis has raised his batting average eleven points over the last eleven games from .240 to .251. He has five multi-hit efforts in that span. While he has only driven in two runs during the stretch of better play, he has scored eleven runs.
When one streak ends for Michael Brantley, it seems like another one is right on the horizon. After his six-game hitting streak ended against Cincinnati, he started what has become a four-game streak and counting. He is hitting .410 in ten games in August with a pair of home runs and ten runs batted in.
Yan Gomes continues to make a name for himself around baseball for his efforts on the diamond, especially behind the plate. He leads all MLB catchers in post All-Star Game RBIs with 16, runs with 12, hits with 28, and doubles with nine. He trails in home runs by one with four. His .378 batting average and .662 slugging trails only that of Chicago’s Tyler Flowers (.390 and .712 respectively) amongst catchers making regular starts and his on-base percentage (.410) is third.
Mark Trumbo has hit safely in eight straight games and reached base safely in ten straight. During his current hitting streak, he has three multi-hit games and has driven in nine runs. He is hitting .370 on his tear and is hitting .343 overall for the month of August. A trip through Progressive Field may slow him down though, as he has hit just .136 in 13 career games in Cleveland.
Outfielder David Peralta is hitting .316 in his last ten games with ten runs batted in. Five of them came on Saturday, when he had three hits, scored twice, and hit a home run in Arizona’s win over Colorado.
Miguel Montero has hit in four straight, batting .500 (6-for-12) during the stretch with a home run and three RBI. He reached base safely all four times in his last start, drawing three walks in addition to his home run.
THE CANDY MAN
Ever wonder what happened to former Major League knuckleballer Tom Candiotti? Look no further than the Arizona Diamondbacks broadcast booth, where he is in his ninth season as the D’Backs radio analyst and occasional television analyst.
Candiotti spent seven of his 16 MLB seasons in Cleveland with the Indians. He originally signed with the Royals out of independent ball in 1980 before being taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the Rule 5 Draft in December of the same year.
Candiotti signed with the Indians as a free agent following the 1985 season with just a few months of MLB service under his belt with the Brewers in 1983 and 1984. He made a career for himself in Cleveland, putting together some of his best professional seasons while in an Indians uniform. He led the AL with 17 complete games in his first full season in the Majors in 1986.
After a 7-6 start with a 2.24 ERA in 1991, the Indians dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of June with outfielder Turner Ward, currently the hitting coach on the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff, for pitcher Denis Boucher and outfielders Glenallen Hill and Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten. He would help the Jays reach the postseason and started two games of the ALCS.
He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the season and spent six years there before pitching for Oakland in 1998 and 1999. He rejoined the Indians for a month in the middle of the 1999 season in what would be his last MLB action.
After his playing career, he worked as a special assistant to the General Manager with Cleveland in 2000 and 2001. He has also worked as an analyst for the Blue Jays, ESPN, and the Little League World Series, appeared in the movie “61*”, and was inducted into the Professional Bowling Hall of Fame’s celebrity wing in 2007.
Cleveland will play host this weekend to the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles for three games, including a pair of Rock N’ Blast fireworks shows. Arizona will continue its road trip with a four-game stop in Miami.
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images