Indians Chase History and Look to Hold Onto Top Spot as Tigers Visit Cleveland
Bob Toth | On 11, Sep 2017
Baseball’s hottest team since 2002 will look to track down the Oakland Athletics’ American League record 20-game winning streak this week as the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers in three games from Progressive Field.
The Indians (87-56) wrapped up their fifth consecutive series sweep over the weekend by knocking off the Baltimore Orioles in three straight, including Sunday night’s close 3-2 contest from downtown Cleveland. The Indians have used a perfect blend of big offensive contributions, high quality starting pitching, and timely relief to put together 18 straight wins while blowing well past the franchise’s record of 14 wins in a row, set a little over a year ago. The stretch has catapulted the Indians to the top of the standings in the American League, where they now lead the Houston Astros by a game for home field advantage throughout the AL side of the playoff bracket.
The Tigers (60-82) may have gotten the better of the Indians in the early portion of the playing schedule, but they have had no luck with them since the calendar flipped to the summer months. After earning series wins in each of their first two meetings, the Tigers have gone 2-8 against Cleveland with two separate four-game losing streaks (the most recent streak remains active). Detroit has not had a winning month this season and looks poised to continue that mark – the Tigers are just 2-8 in September and have been outscored 68-37.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Jaye has the tough task of attempting to stop the Tribe’s 18-game winning streak while making his first Major League start. The 25-year-old right-hander made his big league debut on September 2 against the Indians, working three and one-third innings of scoreless relief. He gave up two hits and plunked two batters, but he kept Cleveland off of the scoreboard. He earned his first MLB win in his second relief outing, throwing another two and one-third scoreless. He has failed to strike out any of the 24 hitters that he has faced so far with the Tigers.
Carrasco will look to become Cleveland’s third 15-game winner this season while building on his previous start, a three-hit complete game. He missed the complete game shutout “Maddux” after allowing a solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in his victory over the Chicago White Sox. His previous outing marked one of the couple of times that a Cleveland starter has not earned the win during their winning streak, but it was of no fault of his own. He fired seven innings of one-run baseball on September 1 against the Tigers, striking out eight. He is 3-1 against Detroit this season in five starts with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP.
The 26-year-old left-hander Boyd has put up some of his best numbers against the Indians this season. In three starts against them, he is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He has not struck out Tribe hitters with the frequency that he has other opposing batters, but he has limited Cleveland to just five runs on the year. In two of those starts, he allowed just one run before exiting. He last pitched September 6 against Kansas City, when he gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings of work.
Two of Kluber’s worst starts this season came against the Tigers, but neither has occurred since he returned from the disabled list at the beginning of June. Since then, he has gone 12-2 with a 1.89 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .171 average against him. Two of those 19 starts have come against Detroit, which he has limited to just two runs over 13 innings. Sixteen of his starts since his activation have been quality outings and he has pitched no fewer than five innings in any contest since his injury. He allowed a pair of solo homers and three hits in total in seven innings in his last start to earn his third straight win.
Farmer will make his eighth start of the season for the Tigers and his second against the Indians this month. He was dealt a loss in his short outing on September 1, working three innings while allowing five runs on three hits and three walks. He had much better results his last time out, when he held the Toronto Blue Jays to two runs (one earned) on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts over five innings in a win, his fourth of the campaign. He went 6-4 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 21 starts at Triple-A Toledo this season.
Clevinger may have bounced around in different roles for the pitching staff this season, but his spot between now and the end of the regular season will be that of a starter. He has won four straight starting appearances for the club and has dominated the Tigers this season, posting a 3-0 record in three games while allowing just one run on eight hits with eight walks in 18 innings (0.50 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP).
TV (all) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports Detroit; MLB Network (9/13 – out of market)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 97.1 The Ticket (Detroit)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Dylan Baker (P) – 60-day disabled list (9/1) – undisclosed
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – right ankle sprain
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 10-day disabled list (8/23) – right hamstring strain
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/22) – patellofemoral syndrome
Bradley Zimmer (OF) – status unknown (9/11) – possible broken fourth metacarpal in left hand
Michael Fulmer (SP) – out indefinitely – ulnar neuritis in right elbow
Jose Iglesias (SS) – paternity list (9/6)
Mikie Mahtook (OF) – day-to-day – left groin soreness
Victor Martinez (DH) – out for season – irregular heartbeat
Jordan Zimmermann (SP) – day-to-day – neck discomfort
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Nicholas Castellanos has hit .417 in the last week. In those six games, he has a team-high ten hits, including two doubles and two homers, and has driven in nine runs. The hot stretch has carried on for the last month of action on the field for the third baseman, as he has hit .323 with seven doubles, a triple, five homers, and 20 RBI over his last 24 games. He also leads the club in second half RBI with 39.
Miguel Cabrera has hit in both games since returning to the Tigers lineup after serving his suspension for his role in several benches-clearing brawls against the New York Yankees in August. He homered and drove in a pair on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
James McCann leads the club with a .320 average and a .382 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.
Jeimer Candelario, one of the pieces of the trade that sent catcher Alex Avila and reliever Justin Wilson to Chicago earlier this season, has made good use of his recent playing time. He is hitting .381 in the last week with four doubles, five walks, and four runs scored.
INDIANS BY THE NUMBERS
The Indians’ incredible run over the last 18 games has led to some pretty remarkable numbers.
In just four innings (over a span of 162 total) have the Indians trailed. Just once, the Indians failed to take the first lead of the game.
That offense, in keeping the Indians in front, has slashed .309/.387/.568 over the streak with an unbelievable .955 OPS. That mark is the highest among the five teams who have won 18 games or more (since the Chicago Cubs did in 1935).
The Indians’ run differential continues to grow with each passing win as well. The club is at a +89 during the streak, having outscored the opposition 121-32.
The Indians starting rotation has posted a 16-0 record with a 1.94 ERA in the 18-game streak. Five games have ended in shutouts.
The bullpen earned itself a Bullpen of the Week honor from Major League Baseball on Monday, doing so for the second time this season (last done during the fifth week of the season). The staff made 25 total appearances in the seven games, posting a 1-0 record with a 0.40 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. In 22 2/3 innings, the relief corps struck out 25 batters and walked just six. Eight and one-third of those innings came in one contest, as Danny Salazar got a quick hook after giving up four runs and retiring just two batters in his start Tuesday in Chicago. Joe Smith was the lone reliever to be charged with a run during the week. Cody Allen earned three saves in three opportunities. Smith, Bryan Shaw, and Tyler Olson each worked four times, with Shaw leading the team with four innings of work and six strikeouts in that span.
The same bullpen has given up just eight runs over the 18 games in 50 2/3 innings of work (1.42 ERA).
The Indians will welcome in the Kansas City Royals, who remain on the outskirts of the AL Wild Card picture looking in. The Tigers will return to Comerica Park for their final homestand of the season, playing eleven games against the White Sox, A’s, and Twins.
Photo: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images