Series Preview #12: Cleveland Indians (12-21) at Texas Rangers (15-20)
Bob Toth | On 15, May 2015
At times, the Cleveland Indians have made their fans want to scream this season…probably more often than not. For manager Terry Francona, if the Indians have been anything this year, it has been consistent and predictable, but sometimes, those are not good things.
They have been reliable with strong outings from their starters. But they have been spotty with the glove. Their bullpen has been shaky. Their offense has been inept. Fundamentals have been all but sound. First games of series have been lost. Series altogether have been surrendered. All of these regular ingredients have made for a recipe for early season disaster, as their 12-21 start out of the gate leaves them nine games out of the divisional race and just three thousandths of a point ahead of the Oakland Athletics (13-23) for the worst record in the American League.
Maybe luck will finally be on the Indians side this weekend as they face a battered and bruised, but suddenly improved Texas Rangers team in a three-game set at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers split a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals this week and four with the Tampa Bay Rays prior after cooling off the fast start of the Astros with a three-game sweep in Houston.
The odds had historically been in the Indians favor coming into their set with the St. Louis Cardinals during the week. Cleveland had a .700 winning percentage against the Cards and had won all seven prior series against the club. But the Cardinals came to town hot and continued to be so. A 4-3 St. Louis lead heading into the eighth turned into an 8-3 Indians loss on Tuesday night, as birthday boy Lance Lynn earned the win while the Indians bullpen coughed up another four response runs, aided by a Jose Ramirez error, after the Indians had put three on the board in the seventh. If you somehow missed it, Corey Kluber had a game to remember and one for the record books, as he took a no-hitter late into the night and struck out 18 batters in eight innings in a 2-0 win. A two-run homer for Matt Carpenter that was just out of the reach of center fielder Michael Bourn off of Marc Rzepczynski, after striking out in his first three plate appearances of the game against Trevor Bauer, pushed the Cardinals to a series-clinching 2-1 win.
PITCHING PROBABLES/GAME NOTES
Friday, 5/15, 8:05 PM ET – LHP Bruce Chen (0-1, 13.50 ERA) vs. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (1-1, 2.70)
Saturday, 5/16, 8:05 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (4-1, 3.27) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (3-2, 2.40)
Sunday, 5/17, 3:05 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-3, 4.84) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (2-0, 1.88)
The left-hander Rodriguez will be making his first career start against the Indians and is coming off of a one-run effort in six innings on Sunday against Tampa Bay. He has faced five current Indians in his career. David Murphy has gotten the best of him, with a single, triple, and homer in seven trips to the plate.
The 35-year-old Lewis is 2-1 in his career against the Indians in six games, but owns a 6.37 ERA against them. It will be his first appearance against them since 2012. He has faced nine members of the Tribe, with seven of them getting hits off of him. Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley each have four hits apiece off of him, while Brantley and Brandon Moss have homered.
Martinez was shelled for eight runs in two innings of work in his lone career start against Cleveland last season. Moss has seen him nine times, with a double, a walk, and a strikeout to his credit.
Chen is 2-3 in his career against the Rangers and has allowed a .303 average as the visiting pitcher in their park. Current Texas players have combined to hit .279 against him with five home runs (Adrian Beltre – 3, Prince Fielder – 2).
Salazar will make just his second career start against the Rangers and his first in Texas. He allowed an unearned run in six innings for the win in his lone appearance against them. Both Beltre and Robinson Chirinos are 2-for-2 against him in their careers. Fielder is 1-for-6 with three strikeouts.
Carrasco has made two starts and four total appearances against the Rangers in his career, posting an 0-1 record with an 8.31 ERA. Elvis Andrus has three hits and three runs batted in off of him, while Fielder is 3-for-5 with a double, homer, and four RBI.
In addition to the broadcasts of each game of the series by Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Southwest, MLB Network will air Friday night’s game. Radio calls will be available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Texas Rangers Radio Network, including 105.3 The Fan.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT GB STREAK
Kansas City 22-13 .629 – W1
Detroit 21-14 .600 1.0 W1
Minnesota 19-16 .543 3.0 L1
Chicago 14-17 .452 6.0 W2
Cleveland 12-21 .364 9.0 L1
RANGERS AND INDIANS
Texas holds a 332-310 advantage over Cleveland in 642 contests all-time dating back to 1961. While the Indians are one game over .500 when playing at home against the Rangers, they are 151-174 while playing in Texas.
When the two clubs first met, the Rangers were actually the expansion Senators, who had returned to Washington, D.C. after the original club relocated to Minnesota. The second Senators franchise moved to Texas in time for the 1972 season.
Last season, the Indians went 3-1 at Globe Life Park in Arlington and 3-0 at Progressive Field. They have an active six-game winning streak against the Rangers.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Mike Aviles (UTL) – Family Medical Emergency list
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Yan Gomes (C) – 15-day disabled list (April 12) – right MCL sprain; sent to Lake County on rehab assignment May 15
T.J. House (SP) – 15-day disabled list (May 1) – left shoulder inflammation; sent to Lake County on rehab assignment May 15
Anthony Swarzak (RP) – outrighted to Triple-A Columbus after clearing waivers May 14
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery
Lisalverto Bonilla (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 11) – right elbow impingement
Yu Darvish (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – March 2015 Tommy John surgery
Josh Hamilton (OF) – 15-day disabled list (March 27) – recovery from February 2015 shoulder surgery
Matt Harrison (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 9) – recovery from June 2014 spinal fusion surgery
Derek Holland (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 11) – left shoulder subscapularis strain
Leonys Martin (OF) – day-to-day – left wrist sprain
Mitch Moreland (1B) – 15-day disabled list (April 28) – left elbow surgery
Spencer Patton (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Round Rock 5/14
Martin Perez (SP) – 60-day disabled list (March 11) – recovery from May 2014 Tommy John surgery
Jurickson Profar (2B) – 60-day disabled list (February 24) – recovery from February 2015 right labrum surgery
Antoan Richardson (OF) – 60-day disabled list (April 2) – recovery from March 2015 back surgery
Ryan Rua (OF) – 60-day disabled list (May 5) – severe right ankle sprain
Nick Tepesch (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 27) – right ulnar nerve inflammation
BY THE NUMBERS
Jason Kipnis has hit safely in eleven of 12 games in May and is hitting .490 for the month with a .576 on-base percentage. Of the 61 runs scored by the Indians in the month, fourth-highest in the AL, he has scored a dozen of them. Lefties have limited him to a .192 average this year, but he is hitting .393 against right-handers.
Santana was just 2-for-10 in the series against the Cardinals, but drew four walks in Wednesday’s win to increase his season total to 29. He continues to lead the AL in free passes and trails Washington’s Bryce Harper for the MLB lead.
Ramirez was 2-for-9 against the Cardinals with a walk and a strikeout. He is hitting just .167 over his last ten and .178 on the season.
Moss had four hits in ten at bats against St. Louis with a run batted in. He continues to lead the team in homers with five and RBI with 22.
THE OTHER GUYS
Delino DeShields, son of the former Major Leaguer of the same name, is making his presence known in his rookie debut. Through 21 games, he is hitting .293 with nine stolen bases in ten attempts. In the series during the week against the Royals, he hit in all four games, going 6-for-11 (.545) with two stolen bases and four walks.
Former Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has heated up just in time to see his former team. After hitting .096 in April, the turn of the calendar page did him well. He is hitting .373 in May and has hit in 14 straight games to open up the month to push his average to .243. Each of the last five games has been multi-hit games. He was 10-for-18 (.555) in the series against the Royals.
Another familiar face, the former Detroit Tigers slugger Fielder, has hit in four straight and 13 of 14 this month. He was 7-for-15 (.467) against Kansas City with two homers and at least one RBI in all four games.
All-Star third baseman Beltre started the season slow, but like so many others on the team, has picked it up of late. He has hit in eleven of 14 May games and three of the four against the Royals.
Former Indians infielder Tony Fernandez, a member of Cleveland’s 1997 AL pennant winning team, is on the Rangers staff as a special assistant.
In his 14th big league season, Fernandez joined the Indians in 1997 after missing all of the 1996 season with an elbow injury. A four-time All-Star, he was a long-time member of the Toronto Blue Jays, playing for the club from 1983 to 1990 and against in 1993, while also appearing with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Yankees. He played second and short for the Tribe, hitting .286 in 120 games.
In the postseason, his fifth and final trip, he hit .182 but drove in four runs in the ALDS against the Yankees. He hit .357 in the ALCS against Baltimore, including his game-clinching solo homer off of Armando Benitez in the eleventh inning of Game 6. He hit .471 against the Florida Marlins with four more RBI in the World Series, the second trip to the Fall Classic in his career.
He left the Indians following the season and returned to Toronto, where he made the final All-Star team of his career in 1999. He played in Japan in 2000, but split the 2001 season with the Milwaukee Brewers and then back with the Blue Jays to conclude his career.
The Rangers will take Monday off before starting a three-game series at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. The Indians will continue their brief road trip with a stop in Chicago to rematch the White Sox for four games, starting Monday night.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer