Series Preview #44: Detroit Tigers (74-62) at Cleveland Indians (70-64)
Bob Toth | On 01, Sep 2014
In a statement series to their 2014 season, the Cleveland Indians came within three outs of pulling within two and a half games of the division lead as the final day of August rolled off of the calendar. They will look to stay in the playoff mix as they host the Detroit Tigers for four games this week, with the division and AL Wild Card races up for grabs.
Cleveland (70-64) nearly claimed a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals twice on Sunday before inclement weather cut short the final game of the weekend. Strong pitching on Friday paced the Indians to a 6-1 win. After an error and a mental error allowed the Royals to tie the game in the eighth on Saturday, the Indians scored twice in the eleventh to hold off Kansas City, 3-2. After losing the lead in the ninth inning on a game-tying home run from Alex Gordon, the Indians took a 4-2 lead in the tenth inning when the game was suspended. The bottom half of the tenth inning will be resumed on September 22nd in Cleveland.
With two wins over the weekend against the first place Royals, the Indians trimmed two games off of the deficit in the division. They also made up ground in the Wild Card picture, hurdling the New York Yankees, who have dropped consecutive games, while inching closer to the Tigers and the Seattle Mariners.
Meanwhile, Detroit (74-62) had a rough weekend in Chicago, splitting a four-game set with the White Sox. Seven runs in the third and fourth innings led to a 7-1 victory for the Tigers on Friday night. The teams split a twinbill on Saturday, with the White Sox winning a 6-3 final in the early game, scoring six unanswered runs after a three-run hole after the first half inning. The Tigers claimed the late game with three ninth inning runs providing all the insurance they needed in an 8-4 win. Defensive miscues led to an early five run disadvantage on Sunday afternoon as Detroit fell 6-2.
In one of the pitching matchups of the season, Corey Kluber (13-8, 2.52 ERA) will continue his Cy Young pursuit against 2012’s winner, left-hander David Price (12-10, 3.32). Kluber has dropped consecutive starts for the first time this season. Price is 1-2 in five starts for the Tigers and is coming off of his worst start of the season his last time out, when he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in just two innings of work. First pitch on Labor Day is a special 4:05 PM ET start.
Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 3.01) will look to keep his impressive run in the rotation going when he makes Tuesday’s 7:05 PM ET first pitch. He is 3-0 with a 0.73 ERA in four starts since returning to the starting rotation. Rookie left-hander Kyle Lobstein (0-0, 3.09) will make his third career MLB appearance and his second start for the Tigers. He was 9-11 with a 4.07 ERA at Triple-A Toledo this season.
Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.23) will take the mound for game three of the series on Wednesday night. Salazar was 2-2 in August with a 2.77 ERA and a .208 batting average against him. Justin Verlander (12-11, 4.68) will oppose for Brad Ausmus and the Tigers. He is 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA at Progressive Field this season and 9-11 with a 5.22 ERA in 22 starts over the course of his career. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Trevor Bauer (5-7, 3.99) will start the series finale on Thursday night against Max Scherzer (15-5, 3.26). The Indians have won four straight Bauer starts and five of his last six, but he has only factored in one of the wins. Scherzer has given up a season-high ten runs to the Indians this season scattered over three starts. He is 1-0 with a 4.82 ERA against them. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio will broadcast all four games in the Indians viewing area. Fox Sports Detroit will carry the Tigers broadcasts. ESPN will air Monday’s matchup. The MLB Network will show Tuesday’s game. All four games will be available on the radio on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit.
The Tigers are the Indians’ most frequently played opponent. Detroit holds the edge all-time with 1,091 wins to Cleveland’s 1,049. The Indians have a 79 game lead in the win column at home since 1901.
The Indians and Tigers have split their six games at Progressive Field this season. The Indians swept a three-game May series and the Tigers returned the favor one month later. Three of the six home games have been decided in extra innings.
Cleveland is 4-2 at Comerica Park this season, tipping the season edge so far in the Indians’ favor at seven games to five. Bauer, Carrasco, and Kluber all earned wins the last time the teams met in July.
With the September roster expansion, the Indians will bolster their bullpen and bench. Rookie first baseman Jesus Aguilar and reliever Austin Adams will return to the big league club. Also heading north from Columbus to Cleveland is right-handed reliever Bryan Price, who was impressive through August while closing for the Clippers. It will be the first time for Price on the Major League roster.
Designated hitter Jason Giambi was activated from the 60-day disabled list. He has been out since mid-June with left knee inflammation.
First baseman Nick Swisher will miss the remainder of the season after surgery on both of his knees.
The Tigers will call up Steven Moya, a Double-A outfielder who won the Eastern League MVP with Erie while hitting 35 home runs and driving in 105 runs, as part of the roster expansion on Monday. Infielder Hernan Perez, outfielder Tyler Collins, and pitcher Kyle Ryan, previously with Triple-A Toledo, will join Moya in Cleveland on Monday. Pitchers Lobstein and Robbie Ray and catcher James McCann will join the club on Tuesday.
On the injury front, the Tigers will be without reliever Joakim Soria, who is battling a strained left oblique on the 15-day disabled list. Starter Anibal Sanchez, out with a right pectoral strain, could miss the remainder of the season. Pitchers Joel Hanrahan, Luke Putkonen, and Bruce Rondon, outfielder Andy Dirks, and shortstop Jose Iglesias, are all expected to be out for the rest of this year.
Miguel Cabrera left Saturday’s game with a sore right ankle and missed Sunday’s game. He is considered day-to-day.
Cleveland’s starting rotation came to life in a big way in August. The staff pitched 157 2/3 innings over 27 starts. They averaged more than three strikeouts per walk (160 strikeouts versus 50 walks). They gave up 45 earned runs, good for a 2.57 August ERA. In 15 of the 27 games, the starter was credited with a quality start. Since the end of a four-game losing streak during the second week of the month, the Indians’ starters posted a 7-3 record with a 1.97 ERA while the club went 13-5. Starters gave the team quality starts in eleven of those 19 games.
Lonnie Chisenhall’s bat may have woken from its second half slumber. The slugging third baseman is hitting .462 over the last seven days with a home run, two doubles, and three runs batted in. He has hit safely in seven straight games.
Catcher Gomes returned from the concussion DL with a splash, getting seven hits in 14 at bats (.500) in the series with the Royals. He has hits in 21 of his last 25 games.
Michael Brantley has hits in four straight games and six of his last seven. He has six hits in ten at bats this season against Scherzer with three runs batted in.
Both Rajai Davis and Alex Avila have hit in four straight games and six of their last seven. Avila has driven in four runs in that four-game stretch. Third baseman Nick Castellanos has hits in ten of his last eleven games.
Outfielder Torii Hunter has hit .410 over his last ten games. He has hits in 12 straight starts. He has hit .282 on the season with 15 home runs and 73 RBI.
Former Indians outfielder Ezequiel Carrera had five hits in nine at bats (.556) in the series against Chicago over the weekend.
Former Indians first round pick of the 1983 amateur draft, Dave Clark, will make his return to Cleveland this week.
Clark debuted in the Major Leagues with the Indians on his birthday, September 3rd, 1986. The left-handed hitting outfielder spent the bulk of his four years in Cleveland as the club’s designated hitter. He was traded following the 1989 season to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Mitch Webster.
He spent one season with the Cubs and was released just prior to the 1991 season. He signed with the Royals and spent one year in Kansas City before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he played his five most productive MLB seasons, hitting .278 with 35 home runs and 158 RBI in Pennsylvania. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996, spent 1997 with the Cubs again, and finished his big league career in Houston with the Astros in 1998.
After his playing career, he coached and managed in the minor leagues and spent time as the hitting coach for the Pirates in 2001 and 2002. He became the interim manager of the Astros in 2009, going 4-9. He was the third base coach for current Indians bench coach Brad Mills for three years while Mills was the manager in Houston. He remained with the club in 2013 as the first base coach and became the Tigers’ third base coach this season.
He will turn 52 on Wednesday.
The Indians will continue their homestand with a three-game weekend set with the Chicago White Sox. Detroit will head back home to start their second-to-last homestand of the season, beginning with three games against the San Francisco Giants.
Photo: AP Photo/Colin E. Braley