Series Preview #21: Cleveland Indians (30-26) at New York Yankees (31-25)
Bob Toth | On 03, Jun 2013
The Cleveland Indians will wrap up their season series with the New York Yankees as they head to the Big Apple for three games this week, beginning Monday night.
The Indians (30-26) finished their brief five-game homestand against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay at 3-2. After sweeping the home half of a home-and-home series with the Reds, they dropped two of three to the Rays. Even though they have been playing through a tough stretch of games with several difficult losses, they remain just one-half game out of first place in the American League Central.
Since their doubleheader with the Indians on May 13th, the Yankees (31-25) have had difficulties on the field. They have won just two of their seven series since, losing two of three from Seattle, Baltimore, and Boston and being swept in four straight by the New York Mets. Their recent woes have dropped them to third in the AL East, three games behind the front-running Red Sox and a half-game behind the Orioles for second place and the Wild Card lead.
Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.83 ERA) will return from the disabled list on Monday night for the game’s 7:05 PM ET first pitch. He was placed on the DL after feeling a tight trapezius muscle in his last start against Seattle. He is 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in his career versus Cleveland. Justin Masterson (8-3, 3.07) will counter for the Indians. After a 4-2 April, Masterson was 4-1 in May with a 3.02 ERA in six starts. He earned the win his last time out after allowing just one earned run in six innings against Cincinnati.
David Phelps is scheduled to start for the Yankees in Tuesday’s 7:05 PM ET start. Phelps (3-3, 4.65) retired just one batter in his last start Wednesday versus the Mets, earning the loss after allowing five runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Left-hander Scott Kazmir (3-2, 5.13) will oppose. He made his longest start of the season in his last outing against Cincinnati, pitching seven innings and allowing just one earned run. He was 3-1 with a 4.22 ERA in May.
Former Indians ace CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber will conclude the season series on Wednesday at 1:05 PM ET. Sabathia (5-4, 3.71) earned his first win of the month of May on its final day, ending a streak of five straight appearances without a win. His ten strikeouts in the start tied a season high. Kluber (3-3, 4.36) has been a pleasant surprise for the Tribe, despite a 1-3 mark in May. He threw two hitless innings before the inclement weather forced him from his last start. He pitched into the seventh against Boston in his start before last and struck out a season-high ten batters while allowing just one earned run.
All three games will be televised on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and aired on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network for those looking for the Indians broadcasts. For those interested in the Yankees broadcasts, tune in to the YES Network or any of the New York Yankees Radio Networks’ affiliates.
Monday’s game will also air on ESPN; the games on Tuesday and Wednesday are both scheduled for national broadcasts on the MLB Network.
The Indians dropped two of three to the Rays to end a brief homestand before a long road trip.
At 2:55 AM on Saturday morning, the Rays and Indians concluded a game that was scheduled for a 7:05 PM start on Friday night. Three rain delays totaling nearly five hours, a five-run outburst by Tampa after the final delay, and just one hit by Cleveland all led to a 9-2 Rays win. The Rays pitching staff used four pitchers in their combined one-hitter. The Indians scored a pair of unearned runs off of Jamey Wright on a sacrifice fly by Yan Gomes and an RBI double by Ryan Raburn, Cleveland’s lone hit, in the fifth.
Ubaldo Jimenez was fantastic and limited the Rays to just four hits over eight scoreless innings in blanking Tampa Bay, 5-0, on Saturday. Jimenez had one of his best starts in an Indians uniform, striking out seven and working effortlessly most of the afternoon. Jason Giambi drove in three runs, hitting a two-run home run in the second inning and an RBI single in the third. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run home run of his own later in the game, his fifth of the year.
Zach McAllister pitched his shortest outing of the season and manager Terry Francona was ejected as the Indians dropped the rubber match by an 11-3 final Sunday. Trailing 4-0 in the fourth, the Indians pushed three runs across, but another run by McAllister and six more from the bullpen put the game out of reach. Francona was tossed after arguing an inconsistent strike zone with home plate umpire Bill Welke. McAllister allowed a season-high five runs (four earned) on seven hits in four and one-thirds inning.
Outfielder Drew Stubbs is struggling. He is hitless in his last 16 at bats with seven strikeouts. He reached base just once on a walk in the series with Tampa Bay, striking out in five of his ten at bats, including four times on Saturday.
Carlos Santana hopes that his 3-for-4 at the plate on Sunday will translate to some better numbers. After batting .389 in April, he slumped over May with a .200 batting average on the month, dropping his average 90 points along the way.
Cabrera raised his season batting average by 30 points because of a .278 May performance. He had hits in 21 of 29 games in the month. His splits at the plate have been drastic. He is batting .278 as a right-handed hitter and just .244 versus right-handed pitchers. On the road, he is batting .299, but the friendly confines of Progressive Field have been exactly the opposite (.217).
Former Yankees slugger Giambi has boosted his batting average by 53 points in his last three games, helping to erase some of the evidence of his eight game hitting drought in the middle of the month. He has homered in each of his last three games.
In roster moves, the Indians called up minor league reliever Matt Langwell on Saturday to replace Scott Barnes on the 25-man roster. After allowing five runs in an inning on Friday night, Barnes saw his ERA balloon to 7.27 on the season and he was optioned to Columbus
There remains no timetable for return for Indians reliever Chris Perez, on the 15-day disabled list with mild tendinitis of his right rotator cuff, and starter Brett Myers. Catcher Lou Marson’s rehab assignment was transferred to Columbus on Friday.
The slumping Yankees have dropped six of seven after losing two of three from the Boston Red Sox this weekend.
A solid showing by Sabathia helped to end a five-game losing skid, as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox on Friday by a 4-1 final. Sabathia (5-4) struck out ten and pitched into the eighth in the win, allowing just one earned run on the night. Mariano Rivera earned his 19th save of the season despite giving up a pair of singles in the ninth.
An early grand slam by Mike Napoli provided the Red Sox with more than enough support on Saturday as Boston routed Phil Hughes and the Yankees, 11-1. Hughes (2-4) allowed five runs in four and two-thirds innings, despite striking out seven. Reliever Adam Warren was tagged for six more runs in three innings of work.
Three rain delays and an impressive thunderstorm preempted the Boston/New York Sunday Night Baseball matchup after five and a half innings, with the Red Sox coming away with a 3-0 victory. Hiroki Kuroda (6-4) allowed three runs in the loss. New York had just two hits against Boston’s Clay Buchholz, who improved to 8-0 on the season.
Robinson Cano has cooled slightly over the course of the last 30 days, but has still seen the ball well against right-handed pitchers. On the season, he is hitting .338 against them, compared to .212 versus lefties. He is a .348 hitter in his career against Masterson.
Ichiro Suzuki has hits in eight of his last nine games and 12 of his last 14. He is a .333 career hitter against Kazmir.
Lyle Overbay has five hits (all singles) in eight career at bats against Masterson (.625).
Designated hitter Travis Hafner has just one hit in his last 19 at bats.
The Yankees activated both Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira on Friday from the disabled list. Teixeira has been out since injuring himself preparing for the World Baseball Classic. Pitchers Vidal Nuno and Ivan Nova were optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room on the roster.
Curtis Granderson is back on the disabled list with a fractured left hand. Fractured bones have prevented the Yankees slugger from seeing a single plate appearance against Cleveland this season.
Long-time Indians pitcher David Huff, recently claimed on waivers by the Yankees and designated for assignment several days later, announced via his Twitter account Saturday that he was going to accept his assignment to Triple-A.
The Indians will take a day off Thursday before starting a three-game series with the Tigers in Detroit on Friday. The Yankees will fly west to begin a ten-game West Coast trip against Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images