Series Preview #36: New York Yankees (61-49) at Cleveland Indians (51-59)
Bob Toth | On 11, Aug 2015
The playoffs are a distant dream now for the Cleveland Indians, but playing spoilers became reality over the weekend as they blasted the Minnesota Twins for 34 runs while taking two of three from their reeling division rival. Those Twins, who has now dropped eight of their last ten, have lost the strong grip they once held over one of the two American League Wild Card spots.
Now, the New York Yankees (61-49) come to town after being swept by the hard-charging Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend. The series sweep at the hands of their division rival cut their lead in the AL East down to one and a half games, while the Blue Jays have strengthened their hold on the Wild Card spot in the league. The Yankees team managed just one run in 28 innings against the Blue Jays, who are far better known for their offense than their pitching, and were shut out in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. A second inning leadoff homer on Friday marks the last run that they have scored, leaving 26 scoreless frames in their wake since.
Meanwhile, the Indians (51-59) finally displayed some of the offense that the club has been lacking throughout the entire season. They fell a run short on Friday night, as a ninth inning home run from long-time enemy Torii Hunter gave the Twins a 10-9 win in a back-and-forth slugfest. The Indians got an early start on the fireworks on Saturday and erupted for 17 runs on 19 hits in a 17-4 win. Staff ace Corey Kluber took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Sunday and the Indians gave him plenty of runs of support in his complete game 8-1 victory.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
The highly touted Severino will make his second start of his career. He allowed two runs, one earned, over five innings in his debut against Boston, striking out seven while giving up just two hits. Carrasco, almost one year to the day that he returned to the Indians rotation, has allowed just one earned run on three hits over back-to-back complete game outings. During one stretch of those two games, he retired 27 consecutive batters.
The former Tribe lefty Sabathia has had a tough season. He has not factored in a decision in his last four starts, last earning a win on July 8th against Oakland. He allowed one run on three hits in six innings while striking out eight in his last start against the Red Sox. Salazar has been a force in the rotation right along with Carrasco, allowing just one earned run over his last two starts (14 innings) against Oakland and Los Angeles.
Eovaldi is coming off of a perfect 4-0 month of July, where in six starts he earned a 3.09 ERA. He has not been dealt a loss since June 16th against his former club, the Miami Marlins. He allowed one run over six and a third his last time out against Toronto in a no-decision. Bauer ended a three-game losing skid and four for the team in his starts overall with a decided 17-4 win on Saturday, his ninth of the season. The Indians had scored solo runs in each of his last four outings. They had scored 18 runs in total over his previous eight outings.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio will air all three games, while MLB Network will also show the series finale on Thursday. YES will handle Yankees broadcasts of each of the first two games, while WPIX in New York will show the final game of the series. The affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Yankees Radio Network will provide radio calls of all three games.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. GB WCGB STREAK
Kansas City 67-44 .604 – – W4
Minnesota 55-56 .495 12.0 4.0 L2
Detroit 54-58 .482 13.5 5.5 L2
Chicago 52-58 .473 14.5 6.5 W1
Cleveland 51-59 .464 15.0 7.5 W2
Cleveland and New York have a longstanding history, as the Yankees were a hated divisional opponent of the Indians for the majority of the two clubs’ existences. The Indians are just 855-1,089 against the Yankees through 112 years of action against one another, dating back to May 15th, 1903, when the Cleveland Naps defeated the New York Highlanders, 5-3.
The Indians took four of seven from the Yankees last season, splitting a four-game series in Cleveland in July before winning two of three from them in New York.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Abraham Almonte (OF) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (August 8)
Cody Anderson (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 8) – left oblique strain
Shawn Armstrong (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (August 8)
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2015 right elbow surgery
Deolis Guerra (RP) – waiver claim rescinded, returned to Pittsburgh (August 7)
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 60-day disabled list (July 28) – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 15-day disabled list (August 2) – right shoulder inflammation
Ryan Raburn (OF/DH) – bereavement list (August 11)
Zach Walters (UTL) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (August 11)
New York (AL):
Dustin Ackley (OF) – 15-day disabled list (August 3) – right lumbar strain
Diego Moreno (RP) – 15-day disabled list (August 2) – right elbow inflammation
Michael Pineda (SP) – 15-day disabled list (July 25) – right flexor forearm muscle strain
Sergio Santos (RP) – 60-day disabled list (June 22) – recovery from June 2015 Tommy John surgery
Chase Whitley (SP) – 60-day disabled list (May 20) – recovery from May 2015 Tommy John surgery
Mason Williams (OF) – 60-day disabled list (July 11) – right shoulder surgery
THE NUMBERS GAME
Jose Ramirez has been an unexpected igniter at the top of the Indians lineup replacing the injured Kipnis at second base and at leadoff hitter. In six games since rejoining the team, he is hitting .333 with seven walks. In total, he has reached base 15 times and scored six runs. He is entrenched in a five-game hitting streak.
Almonte has made the most of his opportunity so far with the Tribe. In his debut on Saturday, he notched a career-high tying four hits, including a homer and a pair of doubles, while driving in two and scoring three times. He added another two-run homer the following game.
New Indian Chris Johnson followed Almonte’s lead, getting four hits in his first Cleveland start in Sunday’s victory. He was 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting role in Saturday’s blowout.
Mark Teixeira is having a bounce back year after dealing with injuries over parts of the last three seasons. He is hitting .263 this year, after a .216 mark last year and .151 the season before, with a club-high 30 homers and 77 RBI. In the second half, his numbers have remained strong, as the first baseman is hitting .346 with eight homers and 15 RBI. He was named to the All-Star team this season for the first time since 2009, his first season in the Big Apple.
Say what you will about the man, but Alex Rodriguez has been integral in the Yankees’ success at the plate this season. He is hitting .275 on the season with a .382 on-base percentage. He is second on the club with 24 homers and third on the team with 63 runs batted in. He has a half dozen homers and a dozen RBI since the break while playing DH for New York.
Tony Pena may not have had a lengthy career in Cleveland, but the longtime MLB catcher and current Yankees first base coach was a hero for the Indians back in the fabled 1995 season thanks to one perfect swing of the bat.
Pena spent his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh, where he was a four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner behind the plate for the Pirates. After three seasons in St. Louis and four in Boston, he joined the Indians at the age of 37 in 1994 to back up catcher Sandy Alomar. He saw 91 games of action for the club in 1995 with Alomar battling injury and had one of the more memorable playoff moments in Cleveland history on October 3rd, 1995, when he entered the game in the top of the eleventh inning for Wayne Kirby, who had pinch-run for Alomar the previous half inning. With the game tied at four in the bottom of the 13th, Pena stepped in with two outs against reliever Zane Smith. On a 3-0 pitch with the clock approaching 2 AM, the former Sox backstop gave the Indians their first playoff win since 1948 with a blast to the bleachers in left. It was the tenth walk-off victory for the Indians at Jacobs Field that season and their 28th victory in their final at bat. He had just five home runs over the course of the year.
Pena would leave Cleveland at the end of the 1996 season. He split the 1997 season between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. He has spent time following his career as both a manager with the Kansas City Royals and a coach with the Yankees.
The Indians will return to the road on Friday to start a four-city, eleven-game trip through Minneapolis, Boston, New York, and Chicago. The Yankees will continue their road trip with a rematch against the same Jays that swept them over this past weekend.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images