Series Preview #15: Texas Rangers (21-23) at Cleveland Indians (20-23)
Bob Toth | On 25, May 2015
With the way the Cleveland Indians played throughout the majority of the first two months of the year, the following statement seems almost improbable to utter.
The Indians have won six straight. I repeat…the Indians have won six straight.
Cleveland (20-23) may not be back in the fray in the American League Central, but it at least has pulled itself back up near the .500 mark, a promising sign as the month of May rapidly comes to its conclusion. Playing well against teams outside of the division, they will host the AL West’s Texas Rangers for three games beginning Monday afternoon.
The Indians continued their recent hot streak by sweeping the slumping Reds in three straight games to knock Cincinnati’s skid to eight straight losses. They won 7-3 on Friday night, as Brandon Moss’s sixth homer of the year broke a 2-2 tie and his two-run double an inning later padded the lead for good. Corey Kluber allowed one run over eight innings on Saturday and a late RBI-double by Jason Kipnis in the eighth gave the Indians a 2-1 win. Cleveland was the beneficiary of defensive miscues for once, as three Reds errors helped the Indians build their lead in a 5-2 final.
Texas (21-23) has the displeasure of coming to Cleveland immediately following their Sunday Night Baseball matchup with the New York Yankees on Sunday, only to play an afternoon start on the first game of the series. Despite the rough travel schedule, the Rangers come into Cleveland as one of the hottest teams in the AL, winners of five straight, including their three-game sweep over the New York Yankees over the weekend.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
The Ohio native Klein returns to his home state and the site of his Major League debut last August 1st, when he gave up a solo home run to Lonnie Chisenhall. He won his first start of the season, after appearing in relief over the first few weeks of the season, with five and one-third innings of one-run ball against Boston. Marcum is 2-0 against the Rangers in five career starts. He won his first start of the season his last time out, pitching two outs into the seventh to earn the win in a 4-3 win over Chicago.
The lefty Rodriguez earned the win against Boston in his last start with six and two-thirds innings of work, allowing one earned run on four hits, walking a pair, and striking out five. He lost his prior start to the Indians when he allowed five earned runs. Salazar suffered his worst outing of the year in his last start against Texas when he allowed seven runs, five of which were earned, in four and two third innings. He won his lone previous start against them in 2014 when he allowed just one unearned run in six innings of work.
Lewis earned a win against the Yankees in his last start, despite allowing five earned runs over six and two-thirds innings. He allowed the same total of runs in his previous start against the Indians and was dealt a no-decision in five innings of work. Carrasco took the loss in his last start against the Rangers earlier this month, when he threw an eight-inning complete game effort, allowing five runs while striking out nine.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Southwest will air all three games in the series. Radio calls will be provided by the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and 105.3 The Fan in Texas.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT GB STREAK
Kansas City 28-15 .651 – L1
Minnesota 25-18 .581 3.0 W2
Detroit 26-19 .578 3.0 L2
Cleveland 20-23 .465 8.0 W6
Chicago 19-22 .463 8.0 L2
The Indians cut into the Rangers’ lead in the all-time series between the two clubs by taking two of three on their trip to Arlington earlier in the month. Texas is now 333-312 over Cleveland dating back to 1961.
The Rangers have won five straight and have been far better on the road (15-10) than at home (6-13). The Indians are one of just five teams in the American League with a losing record on their home turf, but have improved that mark to 9-12 this year.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Brett Hayes (C) – designated for assignment to make room for Yan Gomes
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery
Kyle Blanks (1B) – 15-day disabled list (May 20) – pilonidal cyst
Lisalverto Bonilla (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 11) – right elbow impingement
Jared Burton (RP) – signed to a minor league contract and assigned Triple-A Round Rock
Yu Darvish (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – March 2015 Tommy John surgery
Ross Detwiler (P) – 15-day disabled list (May 15) – left shoulder inflammation
Josh Hamilton (OF) – activated from 15-day disabled list
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
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
Very quietly, Mike Aviles has put together a very solid May in limited action. In nine games in the month, he is hitting .429 to raise his season batting average to .324. He has chosen to defy the platoon splits, hitting .409 against right-handed pitching this season.
David Murphy, once thought to be the odd man out in the crowded outfield mix, is hitting .400 in May and .330 on the season. Used almost exclusively against right-handers this season, he is hitting .333 against them and is hitting .357 at home at Progressive Field. He had four hits in eight at bats against the Rangers the last time the clubs met, scoring twice and driving in a run.
Kipnis continues to play well at the plate, building up a four-game hitting streak to improve his May batting mark to .456. He has hit .415 over his last ten games and has scored 13 times. He has hit .400 at Progressive Field and is hitting .406 against right-handed pitching.
DEEP FROM THE HEART OF TEXAS
Prince Fielder was 8-for-14 in the series with the Yankees over the weekend with three homers and nine RBI. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. He is hitting .368 in May with seven homers and 20 RBI and is hitting .358 on the season.
Mitch Moreland has returned from the disabled list with a vengeance, hitting .318 in eleven games in May with three homers and six RBI. This includes his 3-for-13 series against the Indians with a homer and three RBI when they played visitors. He has hit in eight straight games since an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Cleveland in his third game back off of the DL.
Leonys Martin, who missed the final game of the Rangers previous series against the Indians with a sprained wrist, has a five-game hitting streak.
Former Indians utility infielder Casey Candaele is a member of the Texas Rangers coaching staff as a minor league fielding coordinator.
Candaele may be a forgotten member of the 1996 and 1997 Indians teams. A utility player by trade, he spent 24 games with the Major League club playing second, short, and third and another 14 games at second and third the following season. The games would prove to be his final ones in the Majors.
He entered the pros after being signed by the Montreal Expos as an amateur free agent in 1982. He reached the Majors in 1986 and was fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote in 1987. He was dealt to the Houston Astros during the 1988 season and spent several years with the club at both the Triple-A and MLB levels. He spent the 1994 season with the Cincinnati Reds farm club and joined the Indians in 1995 after a Triple-A stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He remained with the Indians through the end of the 1997 season when he became a free agent. He spent parts of three more seasons in the minors and independent ball.
Cleveland will hit the road for the Pacific Northwest to take on the West’s Seattle Mariners for four games at Safeco Field beginning Thursday night. Texas will head home to host the Boston Red Sox for four games at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer