Series Preview #9: Philadelphia Phillies (12-14) at Cleveland Indians (10-13)

Interleague play comes to Cleveland for the first time this season as the Philadelphia Phillies make a quick stop to Progressive Field for a pair of games against the Indians.

The Phillies come to town on a three game winning streak. They have played very streaky baseball so far this season – prior to their sweep of the Mets over the weekend, they dropped three of four against the Pittsburgh Pirates, split a series two games apiece with the St. Louis Cardinals, and were swept in three games by the Cincinnati Reds. They have won just three of their eight series on the season, winning two sets from the Mets and one from the Miami Marlins.

The Indians return home after a scheduled ten-game road trip that was shortened a day in Chicago due to inclement weather. Unusual heroes – Mike Aviles, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ryan Raburn – assisted Cleveland in coming home with a winning 5-4 record on their road trip.

Both managers (Terry Francona and Charlie Manuel) will face off against the organizations they began their managerial careers with. Francona managed in Philadelphia for four years starting in 1997. Manuel led Cleveland for two and a half seasons, starting in 2000.

The rested Phillies are coming off of a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York over the weekend.

Kyle Kendrick went the distance in the opening game of the series, as he allowed just three hits in a complete game shutout on Friday, 4-0. The Phillies scored all four runs in the sixth inning off of Mets starter Dillon Gee. Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer, his third of the year, after an RBI single by Michael Young.

Three in the third and five in the fifth gave Philadelphia all of the runs they needed as they outlasted New York, 9-4, in Saturday’s matchup. Jonathan Pettibone earned the win with five innings of work, allowing three runs on seven hits. Domonic Brown and John Mayberry both homered in the fifth. Young added three hits.

The Phillies got Cole Hamels his first win of the season with a three-run seventh as they completed the sweep of the Mets, 5-1, on Sunday. Jonathon Niese allowed three runs, just one earned run, in sixth and two-thirds innings for the Mets and was hit with the tough-luck loss. Ten different Phillies had one hit a piece in the ball game. A two-run double by Howard in a pinch-hitting effort broke the game open in the top of the seventh.

Philadelphia outscored the division rival Mets, 18-5, in the three game sweep. With the wins, they improved to 12-14 on the season and pulled to within four and a half games of the first place Atlanta Braves.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz was activated Sunday from the restricted list after fulfilling the requirements of his 25-game suspension for a positive test for an amphetamine last season. Humberto Quintero was designated for assignment to make room for Ruiz.

Center fielder Ben Revere missed several games last week with a sore quad. He may be able to return for the series against Cleveland. He batted .319 last season against the Indians while with the Minnesota Twins and had ten runs batted in and nine stolen bases in 16 games.

Right fielder Delmon Young returned Tuesday from a rehab assignment in Triple-A. Former Indians outfielder Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. Carrera had appeared in 13 games for the Phillies and batted .077 (1-for-13) in limited action, primarily as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. He made just two starts.

Starting pitcher John Lannan is also on the 15-day disabled list with a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee. He is not expected to return until early June.

Michael Young has started strong in the National League after spending his first 13 Major League seasons with the Texas Rangers. He is fourth in the National League with a .352 batting average so far in April and a .350 average on the road.

He has hit in 18 of his last 21 games, including a stretch of 14 straight. He is batting .409 in the last seven days with nine hits – all singles.

Howard has been productive over his last five games – he has two home runs and ten runs batted in and is batting 6-for-18 (.333) in these ball games.

As has been the case throughout the season, the weather caused havoc in the Indians four-game series with the Kansas City Royals over the weekend.

Friday’s game was postponed and rescheduled as part of a day/night doubleheader on Sunday.

On Saturday, Ervin Santana blanked the Indians over seven innings and earned the win despite a late Cleveland rally, 3-2. Scott Kazmir (0-1) took the loss after lasting five innings in his second start of the season. He gave up just a two-run home run in the second to Salvador Perez. Michael Brantley’s two-out, two-run triple off of Royals closer Greg Holland made the game close.

In game one of Sunday’s doubleheader, Jeremy Guthrie outpitched Justin Masterson and shut out his former team, 9-0. Guthrie worked six and two-thirds innings and allowed six hits. Masterson (4-2) worked six-plus innings and struck out a season-high nine, but also allowed a season-high seven earned runs. Cleveland was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners. In the loss, Asdrubal Cabrera had a pair of singles and a double for his first multi-hit game of the season.

Aviles led an offensive explosion in the nightcap and Kluber gave Cleveland the dominant pitching effort they desperately needed as the Indians thumped the Royals, 10-3. Aviles drove in a career-high five runs against the team that drafted him. Kluber (2-0) gave the Indians seven innings and allowed seven hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out six. He allowed just two earned runs, after his offense gave him a six-run lead. Carlos Santana was 4-for-5 with four singles and a stolen base.

Jimenez closed out the series with a beautifully pitched ball game and the Cleveland offense gave him ample run support as the Indians won a series split versus Kansas City with a 9-0 shutout. Until the eighth, Jimenez (1-2) finished with seven-plus innings of work, allowed three hits and a pair of walks, and struck out four in one of his best outings with the Indians. Jason Kipnis hit his first home run of the season in the first. Cabrera had an RBI single and RBI double in the game. Santana doubled in a run in the fifth inning and scored later on a three-run home run to left by Raburn, his first of the season. He added another homer, this time to right field, in the eighth, giving him four RBI and four hits on the night.

After winning the final two games to split the series and win the road trip, the Indians improved to 10-13 on the season and 8-7 on the road. They trail the division-leading Detroit Tigers by three and a half games in the AL Central.

Nick Swisher is not in the lineup for Tuesday’s game and may miss Wednesday as well with soreness in his left shoulder. It is believed the injury is a result of his increased playing time in right field.

Michael Bourn will miss the short series against the Phillies as he continues to recuperate from his right index finger laceration. He is eligible to come off of the disabled list on Tuesday but has requested a rehab assignment prior to returning to the big league club.

Catcher Lou Marson, who was activated last Wednesday, returned to the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a sore shoulder. Yan Gomes returned to the Indians roster from Triple-A Columbus.

Brett Myers remains on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.

Trevor Bauer will be recalled from Columbus to make a spot start on Wednesday evening. A corresponding roster move had yet to be announced.

Jason Giambi has had decent success in his career against both of Philadelphia’s starters in the series, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. He is a .306 hitter (22-for-72) lifetime against Halladay and a .300 hitter (3-for-10) against Lee. Swisher has had similar production against both – he has batted .320 against Lee and .300 against Halladay in his career.

Santana enters the series against the Phillies leading all of baseball with a .386 batting average. He trails only Shin-Soo Choo (.484) in on-base percentage at .456 and is fourth with a .686 slugging percentage.

Cabrera has raised his batting average from .118 on April 17th to .225 on April 29th, thanks to an eight-game hitting streak. He has extra base hits in four of the eight games and each of the last three games have been of the multi-hit variety. He has seven hits in his last 12 at bats (.583).

Both Santana and Cabrera are batting .412 in the last week with seven hits each.

This week’s pairing will mark just the fourth series between the two ball clubs and the third time that Philadelphia will come to Cleveland. The Phillies own a 6-3 record all-time against the Indians, but the teams have splits three wins each at Progressive Field. The last time they met, the Indians were swept in three games in Philadelphia in June of 2010.

Both clubs enter the series with .251 team batting averages on the season. Philadelphia has scored one more run than Cleveland, despite playing four more games than the Indians.

Halladay (2-2, 5.08) will take the mound for the Fightin’ Phils in the last game of the month of April. He allowed one run on just one hit in six innings his last time out against Pittsburgh and only three hits in his last 13 innings overall. Zach McAllister (1-3, 3.52) will start for the Tribe. He was bumped from Monday’s start against the Royals after Friday’s postponement.

Former Cleveland starter Lee (2-1, 3.03) will face his former team to end the short two-game series. The Phillies have lost each of his last three starts. Bauer (0-1, 5.40) will make his second start of the season for the Indians after being bumped from his start in Columbus on Monday. It will be his first appearance at Progressive Field.

Both games are scheduled for 7:05 PM ET first pitches and will be televised on Comcast SportsNet and Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio. Radio broadcasts will air on the Phillies Radio Network and the Cleveland Indians radio network.

Philadelphia will leave Cleveland after their quick pit stop and will return home for four games with the Marlins. The Indians will have the rare scheduled day off Thursday before starting a three-game set this weekend against the Twins.

The Phillies and Indians will see each other again in just two short weeks for another two-game series, this time at Citizens Bank Park in the City of Brotherly Love.

Photo: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

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