Tribe and Their 12-Game Winning Streak Take Tour to Toronto
Bob Toth | On 30, Jun 2016
There is no team in baseball hotter than the Indians and possibly no city more locked in from a professional sports standpoint right now than Cleveland, Ohio. They will take on their Great Lakes neighbor, the defending American League East champion Toronto Blue Jays, in a four-game series from Rogers Centre beginning Thursday night.
The Indians (47-30) are simply on fire. Twelve straight victories, including a perfect 6-0 start to their ten-game road trip, have built their lead in the AL Central Division to six games. They were untouched at home in June, posting an 11-0 record, and the better play on the road this stretch has improved their record away from home to 24-18, the second-best mark in the AL. They are tied with Baltimore for the second-best record in the league.
The Jays (43-37) are hanging around in the AL East, but still trail the hot Orioles by five and a half games. They concluded their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record, including a pair of wins in the final two games of their series in Colorado against the Rockies during the week. They fell twice in Chicago in three games at the start of their trip.
Thursday, 6/30, 7:07 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-2, 2.73 ERA) vs. RHP R.A. Dickey (5-8, 4.23)
Friday, 7/1, 1:07 PM ET – RHP Josh Tomlin (9-1, 3.32) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (6-4, 5.33)
Saturday, 7/2, 1:07 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (6-2, 3.19) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (5-3, 2.81)
Sunday, 7/3, 1:07 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (8-7, 3.50) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (10-3, 3.70)
Carrasco earned his first career win in four tries against the Jays last year with six innings of four-run ball. It will be his first start at Rogers Centre, where he has appeared once in relief. Tomlin will be making his first appearance against Toronto since 2011. He owns a 1-0 record in three starts against them, but has a 5.19 ERA. Kluber has never beaten the Blue Jays in Cleveland, which works out well with the series playing out in Toronto. He held them to two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings for a win back in 2014. Bauer will be looking to put some statistical demons to rest with his second career appearance at Rogers Centre – he took the loss and has a 33.75 ERA and 5.25 WHIP after allowing five runs on six hits and a walk in one and one-third innings of work last season. In two games total, he has a 17.47 ERA and 3.00 WHIP against them.
Dickey has won each of his last two starts against the Indians. Last season, he threw a complete game four-hitter, allowing one run and striking out six. It will be the first career start for Stroman against the Tribe. He worked one and one-third innings in relief against them in 2014, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits with a walk surrendered. Estrada held the Indians to two runs on five hits in seven innings in a no-decision last season in his only career appearance against Cleveland. Happ is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.45 WHIP against Cleveland in his career. He allowed six runs on 14 hits and three walks in seven and one-third innings last season in a pair of starts, taking one loss in the process.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); SNET (all games); TVA Sports (Saturday, Sunday)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; SN590 (Toronto)
Jose Bautista (RF) – 15-day disabled list (June 17) – left big toe
Brett Cecil (P) – 15-day disabled list (May 15) – torn lat muscle
Gavin Floyd (P) – 15-day disabled list (June 26) – torn right lat muscle
Franklin Morales (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – left shoulder fatigue
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians and Blue Jays first became acquainted in 1977 when Toronto and Seattle joined the American League via expansion. Since then, the Jays have the slight edge, posting a 200-197 record in 399 games (with two ties – 5/13/1984 and 8/26/1986).
The series has been even closer than that, with “the diff” favoring the Indians at +2 (1,879-1,877).
The Blue Jays are 106-92 at home and 94-105 when playing in Cleveland.
Last season, the American League East champions won the season series, 4-3. The two teams split a four-game set in Cleveland early in the season before the Blue Jays took two of three in Toronto entering the final month of the schedule. The Jays outscored the Indians in the seven games, 39-32.
LETHAL BATS IN JAYS LINEUP
Edwin Encarnacion has been the biggest bopper of the Blue Jays’ bunch this year, leading the club with 21 homers and 70 RBI while ranking third with 19 doubles. He has also drawn a fair number of walks this year, helping to turn a .264 batting average into a .359 on-base percentage. He is hitting .364 over the last six games with three doubles, two homers, and eight RBI.
Josh Donaldson has performed even better overall, with ever so slightly less power and run production in the Toronto lineup. He is hitting .293 on the season with a .401 OBP, leading the club with 51 walks. He has 18 doubles, 18 homers, and has driven in 52, the latter two ranking second to Encarnacion.
His 65 runs scored and 86 hits lead the team. He is hitting .440 in the last week.
Troy Tulowitzki has not looked great this season, despite providing his usual power in the lineup. He spent some time on the disabled list, buthas eight doubles, 12 homers, and 31 RBI in 56 games. He is hitting .215 with a .294 OBP for the year.
JAYS’ AVERAGE LEADER AGAINST TRIBE
With all of the big bats and high profile players on the Blue Jays roster, your guess as to the club’s current leader in batting average in his career against Cleveland will probably be wrong.
It’s former friend of the feather Ezequiel Carrera, who spent two separate trips in the organization from June of 2010 to April of 2013 before returning in May for the rest of that year. Carrera is 4-for-12 (.333) in his career against the Tribe with six runs scored, with three of them coming in three games last season. He is hitting .306 for the year in 53 games, but has just 124 at bats.
Donaldson is a close second with a .324 career mark (33-for-102) with four doubles, two triples, five homers, and 27 RBI. Last year was his “worst” season of four against Cleveland, as he hit .280 with a .419 OBP, hitting a pair of doubles, one triple, and one homer while driving in seven.
BRANTLEY’S ABSENCE FELT VERSUS TORONTO
The absence of Brantley, who hit off of a tee for a second consecutive day on Tuesday, will be notable this weekend.
The left fielder missing in action for nearly the last two months and, in essence, the whole season, has incredible career numbers against Blue Jays pitching. He owns a .363/.444/.565 slash against the Jays in 31 games, hitting eleven doubles, a triple, four homers, and 17 RBI against a club formerly coached by his father, Mickey Brantley.
SANTANA AND RAMIREZ SOLID AGAINST JAYS
Carlos Santana owns a .295 lifetime average against the Blue Jays with a .449 OBP. He has six doubles, five homers, and 17 RBI against them in 38 games. Jose Ramirez has hit .294 in five games against Toronto in his career.
KIPNIS’S STREAK HITS ELEVEN
Second baseman Jason Kipnis has hit safely in eleven straight games. Just one of those games has been a multi-hit effort (his two-triple game in Detroit on June 24). He is hitting .267 during that streak (12-for-45) and .267 for the season in 74 games.
THE CHIZ KID
So you say the Indians need to find more offense for their outfield? Lonnie Chisenhall is trying to prove that he can be relied upon from the right field corner for power production.
In the last six games, he is hitting .400 with two triples and is leading the team in the last week with ten hits, three homers, and nine runs batted in. He has hit safely in the last four games (9-for-17 with seven RBI) and seven of his last eight.
Since ending an 0-for-14 skid with hits in each game of a May 23 doubleheader against Chicago, Chisenhall is hitting .340 with five doubles, three triples, five homers, and 18 RBI over 32 games.
STARTERS GONE WILD
During Cleveland’s 12-game winning streak, the starting staff has logged 89 2/3 innings and posted a 1.91 ERA. The five starters have allowed just 52 hits in that stretch. Danny Salazar has a team-leading three wins in those dozen games, while Kluber and Bauer each have two wins.
RUN, CLEVELAND, RUN
After picking off five bases in five attempts in their three games against Atlanta and its MLB-worst 13.2% caught stealing rate from its catchers, the Indians will move along to a Blue Jays club that has thrown out the second fewest runners in the AL at eleven. Opposing base stealers have been successful in 79.6% of chances this season, something the Indians should look to exploit some north of the border.
Cleveland has three players in the top 30 in stolen bases this season in Rajai Davis (21-of-24), Francisco Lindor (13-of-16), and Ramirez (10-for-13). Davis is tied for the AL lead with Houston’s Jose Altuve.
HOME SWEET HOME
After playing 20 of their last 26 games on the road, the Indians return home to Cleveland and Progressive Field and get right back to work on Monday night as they host the Detroit Tigers to start a seven-game home stand to close out the unofficial first half of the 2016 regular season. The Blue Jays will continue their three-team, eleven-game homestand with a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals before hosting the Detroit Tigers for four next weekend.
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images