Indians’ Tough Stretch Continues With Visiting Rangers
Bob Toth | On 30, May 2016
While everything might be bigger in Texas, this week’s series between the Indians and Rangers in Cleveland is a large one for both clubs.
The Indians (26-22) battled one of their stronger opponents so far in 2016 and dropped two of three to Baltimore despite an overall evenly matched series with the Orioles. The teams split the first two games, with the Tribe winning an 11-4 final on Saturday, before the O’s snuck out of town with a 6-4 win on Sunday afternoon, ending Cleveland’s brief one-day stand atop the American League Central Division. They now trail Chicago by one half game.
The Rangers (29-21) leave their friendly confines, where they won their eighth straight home series, their longest such streak since 2011-2012. They hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates this past weekend, losing 9-1 in the opener before 5-2 and 6-2 wins to take the series. They come to Cleveland ahead of Seattle and in the top slot in the AL West by a half game.
Monday, 5/30, 6:10 PM ET – LHP Derek Holland (3-4, 5.21 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (7-0, 3.35)
Tuesday, 5/31, 6:10 PM ET – RHP Colby Lewis (4-0, 3.38) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (4-5, 3.78)
Wednesday, 6/1, 6:10 PM ET – LHP Cole Hamels (5-1, 3.34) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.34)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Southwest (all games)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 105.3 The Fan (Texas)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation
Carlos Carrasco (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 24) – moderate left hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Roberto Perez (C) – 60-day disabled list (May 1) – fractured right thumb
Shin-Soo Choo (OF) – 15-day disabled list (May 21) – left hamstring strain
Yu Darvish (SP) – activated from 15-day disabled list (May 28)
Joey Gallo (3B) – optioned to Triple-A Round Rock (May 28)
A.J. Griffin (SP) – 15-day disabled list (May 8) – right shoulder stiffness
Josh Hamilton (OF) – 60-day disabled list (March 25) – recovery from off-season left knee surgery
Keone Kela (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 21) – right elbow impingement
Patrick Kivlehan (3B) – traded to Seattle (May 29) for player to be named later
Drew Stubbs (OF) – 15-day disabled list (May 23) – sprained left little toe
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Rangers (and the second Washington Senators before them) own a 335-313 (.517) mark against the Indians franchise dating back to 1961. In Cleveland, the series is deadlocked 160-160.
Since relocating to Texas, the Rangers are 244-207 (.541) against the Indians, including a 116-106 record in Cleveland and a 128-101 mark while playing in the Lone Star State.
Last season, the two teams split the season series at three games each. Both clubs curiously fared better on the road than at home, with each producing 1-2 records on their home fields.
If you haven’t heard the name Nomar Mazara so far, you’ve not paid attention to one of the surprise names in the American League this season. The 21-year-old rookie outfielder leads all regular AL rookies with a .311 batting average and is second in the league with eight home runs. His 21 RBI are tops among all rookies in the Junior Circuit. On Wednesday, he clocked a home run estimated at 491 feet by MLB.com, which would be the longest shot so far in 2016.
Ian Desmond, longtime Washington Nationals infielder, signed with the Rangers late in the offseason and has taken up a new residence in the outfield, appearing in 29 games in left field and 23 more in center with a slew of outfield injuries depleting the options on the Texas roster. In his first season in the AL, he is hitting .295. He seems to be acclimating nicely after a slow start, as he is hitting .352 in his last 30 games, .364 over his last 15, and .444 over the last week.
…AND OLD ONES
An advancing age does not seem to be a concern for 37-year-old third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is still continuing to produce at a high pace in the Rangers lineup. He is hitting .271 on the season with nine homers and 34 RBI, the latter two of which he leads the team.
Elvis Andrus has made a career out of crushing Cleveland pitching. He had an incredible run of 39 straight games to start his career with a hit against Indians pitching snapped in 2014. He was also the owner of the longest hitting streak at Progressive Field (27 games) until Jason Kipnis snapped that in June of last season. His first MLB hit came against the Indians as a 20-year-old in 2009 and he has never really stopped hitting them, owning a lifetime .366 average against Cleveland (including a .450 mark last season) and a .406 average at Progressive Field.
Despite a rough week, Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland each homered in the Rangers’ win on Sunday. The duo has now homered in the same game four different times since Fielder joined Texas for the 2014 season.
The homer from Fielder ended a 34-game homerless drought. He is hitting just .174 over the last week, while Moreland is hitting just .130.
WE HAVE THE RUNS
If season totals are any prediction, fans at Progressive Field this week could be in store for some high scoring games. The Indians come in as the number two scoring offense, in terms of total runs, in the American League with 233 in 48 games. The Rangers are a near fourth with 230 in two more games played.
SO YOU SAY THE INDIANS HAVE A PROBLEM ON OFFENSE?
Taking a deeper look at the offensive production of the Indians, it may surprise some fans to know that the Cleveland roster is averaging 4.85 runs per game, the second-best run production in the American League and the sixth-best overall in all of baseball. The Boston Red Sox lead MLB with 5.90 runs per game, followed by four National League clubs (three of which play in the NL Central). Seattle is third in the AL at 4.71 runs per game, followed by 4.60 from Texas.
NAPOLI IN THE CLUTCH
Indians first baseman Mike Napoli is once again seeing the ball better at the plate. Over the last week, he is hitting .318 with a .423 on-base percentage. He has four extra base hits in his last six games (including a team-leading three homers), has driven in nine runs, and has drawn four walks.
Napoli is the Indians’ team leader in homers (10), RBI (35), extra base hits (20), slugging percentage (.471), and number of pitches seen (916) and is second in runs scored (31) and doubles (9).
SAY MY NAME
Jose Ramirez, the man of many nicknames, hit .348 over his last seven games with two doubles, two homers, and four RBI while also drawing a team-leading six walks. In that stretch, he had an on-base percentage of .500 and came around to score seven times throughout the week. He continues to surprise and impress, hitting .304 for the season with a .378 OBP, eleven doubles (leading the team), three homers, and 19 RBI while drawing an even one-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio at 15 each.
RARE MATCHUP FOR KLUBER
Tuesday’s start for Kluber will be just the third of his career against Texas and his first since 2013. He was 1-0 that season with a 2.57 ERA against the Rangers.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Tribe when the series is over as they will play host to Kansas City for four games, beginning Thursday night, to conclude the club’s ten-game homestand. The Rangers will have an off day on Thursday before their own tough divisional battle at home with Seattle.
Photo: AP Photo/LM Otero