Game Preview #58: Cleveland Indians (31-26) at St. Louis Cardinals (30-29)

By Mike Brandyberry

Last night the Indians took the first game of a weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 6-2. The Tribe benefitted from a Johnny Damon home run and good starting pitching from Josh Tomlin. Tomlin worked seven innings, allowing only two runs. It was his strongest and most consistent start since returning from the disabled list on May 28.

Today, Justin Masterson (2-5, 5.09 ERA) will look to find consistency that Tomlin discovered last evening. A year ago Masterson dominated teams in June, but received no run support. This season, Masterson is giving his offense little aid. The Indians have lost five of Masterson’s last six starts, including a 6-3 defeat to the Minnesota Twins last Sunday. This year, the velocity of his fastball is down nearly two and a half miles per hour, resulting in less movement.

Masterson will be opposed by the Cardinals, Kyle Lohse (5-1, 3.21 ERA). Lohse was strong for his first six starts of the season, compiling his current 5-1 record, but has struggled in his last five outings, not recording a decision. Lohse has struggled during interleague play, and struggled even further against the Indians. While he has not faced the Tribe since 2007, he has a 9.35 ERA and 0-4 record against the Wahoos.

Michael Brantley will look to remain consistent himself and extend his 16-game hitting streak. It is the longest streak by an Indian since Brantley had a 19-game hitting streak in 2010. The Tribe is 3-1 on their current nine game road trip and have cut their deficit to one-half game in the American League Central Division standings. The White Sox loss to the Houston Astros last night got the Indians to less than a game.

Game time is slated for 7:15 in Cleveland. The game can be seen on Fox as Major League Baseball’s game of the week. The contest can also be heard on the Indians Radio Network with Scott Bailes and Jim Rosenhaus. Bailes is replacing Tom Hamilton, who is in Oregon watching his son Nick play for Kent State in the NCAA Baseball Super Regionals.

Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
4. Carlos Santana, C
5. Michael Brantley, CF
6. Johnny Damon, LF
7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
8. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
9. Justin Masterson, P

St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Carlos Beltran, CF
3. Yadier Molina, C
4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Allen Craig, RF
6. Matt Adams, 1B
7. David Freese, 3B
8. Daniel Descalso, 2B
9. Kyle Lohse, P

Photo: Getty Images

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