Getting back to even just seems to be a glass ceiling that the Cleveland Indians have been unable to punch through. They will look to climb back closer to the .500 mark as they take on a struggling Detroit Tigers team in a three-game series this weekend at Comerica Park.
The Indians slipped up during the week, unable to score when needing it the most. They dropped a 3-2 final on Tuesday night, as two Yan Gomes solo home runs were not enough as the team continues the trend of failing to score for its number one starter. A four-run third on a Kyle Seager grand slam proved to be too much to overcome on Wednesday, as the Mariners defeated the Tribe and Trevor Bauer, 9-3. Seven impressive innings from Shaun Marcum on Thursday, combined with two perfect innings of relief from Zach McAllister and Cody Allen, provided the Indians with a two-hit shutout of the M’s, 6-0.
The Tigers had Thursday off after splitting a two-game series with the Chicago Cubs during the week. They won a 6-0 final on Tuesday before a Cubs’ run barrage led to a 12-3 loss on Wednesday. After a 15-8 month of April, they were just 13-16 in May and were outscored by eleven runs. They are just 3-5 to start the month of June.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Salazar earned the team’s only win over the Tigers this season with seven innings of one-run ball on the mound. He struck out eleven in the victory. He is 1-1 in his career at Comerica Park and 2-1 overall in six starts with a 2.93 ERA against Detroit. Price has worked one game against the Indians, allowing three unearned runs in five and two-third innings while striking out six in a no-decision. He is 7-1 in ten career starts against Cleveland with a 2.40 ERA.
Carrasco took a loss in Detroit in April after he allowed five runs on nine hits with two walks and two intentional walks in four and one-third innings on the mound. He is 2-6 with a 7.20 ERA in 13 games against Detroit, including eight starts. Verlander will make his season debut after missing more than two months with a right triceps strain. It will be start number 41 for Verlander against Cleveland; he is 18-16 with a 4.42 ERA.
Kluber struck out ten Tigers hitters in his lone action against the club this season. He is 2-5 in his career with a 4.80 ERA in 12 games against Detroit. Simon is 2-0 against Cleveland this season and has allowed four runs in 12 innings of work (3.00 ERA). That success this season has pushed his career numbers to 3-2 with a 4.59 ERA in nine games (four starts) against the Tribe.
Cleveland broadcasts will be available on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. Calls for each game of the series in the Tigers series will be available on Fox Sports North and on 97.1 The Ticket.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT GB STREAK
Kansas City 34-23 .596 – W4
Minnesota 33-26 .559 2.0 L3
Detroit 31-29 .517 4.5 L1
Chicago 28-30 .464 6.5 W3
Cleveland 28-31 .482 7.0 W1
LONG TIME RIVALS
The Tigers still hold an edge over the Indians in the long-standing series between the two clubs, dating back to the inaugural season of the American League in 1901. Detroit is 1,102-1,051 in the series running 2,165 games deep. As is typical, the Indians hold the advantage in series in Cleveland, but are just 473-598 when playing in Detroit.
The Indians have mustered just one win in six tries against the Tigers this season. Detroit swept the Cleveland home opening series in early April. The Tribe won a 13-1 decision on April 24th when Salazar defeated the Tigers behind 15 hits. Detroit came back to win each of the next two.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Austin Adams (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (June 11)
Scott Atchison (RP) – 15-day disabled list (May 31) – right ankle sprain; sent on rehab assignment June 10
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
C.C. Lee (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (June 11)
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery
Alex Avila (C) – 15-day disabled list (May 8) – left knee injury
Shane Greene (SP) – optioned to Triple-A Toledo (June 12)
Ian Krol (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Toledo (June 12)
Kyle Lobstein (SP) – 15-day disabled list (May 24) – left shoulder inflammation
Victor Martinez (DH) – 15-day disabled list (May 19) – left knee inflammation
Joe Nathan (CL) – 15-day disabled list (May 8) – Tommy John surgery in April
Bruce Rondon (RP) – 60-day disabled list (February 4) – Tommy John recovery and bicep tendinitis
Justin Verlander (SP) – to be recalled from Triple-A Toledo for Saturday’s start
Very quietly, Michael Brantley has put together a nine-game hitting streak and has hit in eleven of 12. Despite the active streak, his batting average has actually dropped three points from .307 to .304 in that span. The streak has a good chance of continuing against Detroit, as he has hit .529 against them this season with three doubles and three runs batted in.
Jason Kipnis has continued his hot hitting, batting .368 over the last week while receiving a rare day off on Thursday, his first of the season. He is hitting just .259 against the Tigers this season, but all of that action came in April when he had not found his groove at the plate.
Gomes is hitting .313 in June and knocked out his first two homers of the season in Tuesday’s loss to Seattle. His six-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 on Thursday afternoon.
Brandon Moss is hitting .455 against the Tigers this season with a pair of homers and two doubles to his credit and ten runs batted in.
Giovanny Urshela made a nice impression in his opening games with the club. He knocked in his first career run on Wednesday, then notched his first career hit on Thursday in the third inning before clearing the fence with his first career home run in the fifth.
Miguel Cabrera has destroyed Cleveland pitching once again so far this sseason. He is hitting .652 with a 1.087 slugging percentage in six games against the Indians with 15 hits in 23 at bats. He has hit three homers and driven in nine in those contests.
Yoenis Cespedes has hit in each of Detroit’s five games against Chicago teams over the last week, batting .500 (9-for-18) with two home runs and five runs batted in. Ian Kinsler has done him one better, hitting in six straight games. Five of the six games have been two-hit outings. He comes into this series hitting .542 against Cleveland this season.
Jose Iglesias has hit in 12 of his last 14 games to maintain a .329 batting average this season.
Tyler Collins, a reserve outfielder, was 5-for-7 with a pair of triples in their series with the Cubs. In 14 games, he has hit .325 this season.
NEAR NO-NO ANNIVERSARY
Sunday marks the four-year anniversary of a regrettable night for Indians fans as their club was nearly blanked by Verlander in a 4-0 loss in Detroit.
The Indians entered the night with a percentage point lead over the Tigers for first place. Cleveland, at 35-29, sent Justin Masterson to the mound as Detroit, at 36-30, sent Verlander.
The Tigers scored three in the third, as a single, error, and single loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly from Cabrera knocked in the first run and two batters later, Andy Dirks knocked in another with a single. Avila finished the scoring with the second sacrifice fly of the inning.
Verlander was vintage, just five weeks after throwing his first career no-hitter. He struck out a batter in eight of the nine innings to rack up a dozen on the night. After hitting Carlos Santana with a pitch as the second batter of the game, he retired 18 in a row before walking Brantley with one out in the seventh.
Orlando Cabrera sent an 0-1 pitch into center field for a single with one out in the eighth to break up the no-hitter. Santana singled to left with two outs in the ninth for the Tribe’s only other hit.
The loss dropped the Indians a game back in the division. They would reclaim a tie for the top spot the next night and would fight back and forth for the Central crown until losing the spot for good on July 21st.
Detroit will host the Cincinnati Reds on Monday in a home-and-home series to conclude their seven-game home stand. The Indians will head to Chicago to take on the Cubs in their own home-and-home set with the club.
Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images