By Matt Van Wormer
The Indians left Chicago last night after winning their first series against the White Sox this year. With the Tribe taking two of the three games against the pale hose, they have climbed to within a game and a half of the Tigers, who they now visit for a three game set. The Indians have a chance to retake the Central Division lead and, based on the pitching matchups.
Josh Tomlin (12-5, 3.97, 1.04 WHIP) and Max Scherzer (12-7, 4.37, 1.36 WHIP) start the battle for the Central Division tonight. Against the Indians this year, Scherzer is 1-0 in two starts having given up 10 hits and seven runs in 12.1 innings. Tomlin has not faced the Tigers this year but in his career, he is 1-1, giving up 16 hits and eight earned runs in two career starts. Those were his fifth and 12th starts, respectively, the latter one being the win.
Key Matchup: Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo vs. Max Scherzer – The two big lefties are going to have to be the power supply tonight. In their careers, Hafner is 6 for 10 (1 HR, 3 RBI) and Choo is 7 or 12 (1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI).
Game two of this crucial series matches David Huff (1-1, 0.51, 1.02 WHIP) and Doug Fister (4-13, 3.59, 1.22 WHIP). Huff 2.0 hasn’t faced the Tigers but, in the past, he hasn’t fared well against the Motor City Kitties, going 0-1 in two starts, pitching a total of nine innings and giving up 12 hits and six earned runs (nine total). In three starts against the Indians this year, Fister hasn’t pitched badly but not well enough to get a win. In 16 innings, Fister has allowed 14 hits and just five earned runs.
Key Matchup: Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo vs. Doug Fister – Sound familiar? The lefty pair have combined to go 9 for 25 against Fister with two home runs, one double and six RBI.
Sunday’s matchup could change but as of right now we are looking at Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.48, 1.39 WHIP) and Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.98, 1.42 WHIP). Ubaldo’s first win as an Indian came against the Tigers when he threw eight innings, giving up just five hits and zero earned runs. The Indians love seeing Porcello on the mound. In his two starts against Cleveland, Porcello’s line looks like this: 0-1, 10.2 IP, 18 hits, 10 runs, 3 Home Runs, an 8.44 ERA and a Tribe batting average of .375. Let’s improve on that!
Key Matchup: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Himself – Much like Fausto Carmona, we have seen two different Ubaldo’s. The one that pitched against Detroit last time is the one that needs to show up again in this game.
The Indians have a stretch of games coming up that they should do well in, playing the likes of Seattle, Kansas City and Oakland while the Tigers hit the road to play Tampa Bay and Minnesota. Leaving Detroit with the Central Division lead would be a huge help as the month of August winds down and both of these teams get ready to battle the final month of the season for the Central Division Crown.
Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images