Series Preview #21: Cleveland Indians (29-33) vs. Chicago Cubs (34-27)

There was very little to celebrate this weekend for the Cleveland Indians outside of the arrival of top prospect Francisco Lindor to the 25-man roster. Otherwise, the party was spoiled and it rained on their parade.

Pitching may keep you in games, and it has for the most part this season for Cleveland (29-33), but offense wins it. That about sums up how the Cleveland Indians dropped two of three in Detroit against the Tigers over the weekend and head to Chicago for a home-and-home series with the Cubs, a little worse for the wear.

The Indians were roughed up all around by the Tigers, who outscored the Tribe 16-6 in the three-game set. Cleveland was blanked by David Price on Friday night, 4-0, as he struck out eight and allowed seven hits in his complete game win, spoiling a quality Cleveland start. The Indians evened up the series with a 5-4 win on Saturday, as the bats got to the Tigers bullpen for three runs after Justin Verlander departed from his first start of the season. Rain interrupted play on Sunday, but not enough to prevent Detroit from putting eight on the board, including six off of Scott Atchison and Ryan Webb, to give Corey Kluber his eighth loss of the season in an 8-1 final.

The third-place Cubs (34-27) are 18-12 at home and 16-15 on the road this year. Joe Maddon, in his first season as Chicago skipper, has led his team to wins in four of their last five games to move them to a season-high seven games over the .500 mark, an accomplishment for a team that has struggled mightily since facing off with the Indians on the field. They did so by taking three of four over the weekend from the Cincinnati Reds. They started with a 6-3 win Thursday night as a pair of early home runs plated four of their six runs. The Cubs dropped Friday’s contest, 5-4, in ten innings. They walked off winners on Saturday and Sunday as Starlin Castro delivered the winning hit in each. They won 4-3 in regulation on Saturday night and 2-1 in eleven innings Sunday night.


In Chicago:

Monday, 6/15, 8:05 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (5-33, 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (6-4, 3.16)

This will be Bauer’s first career start against the Cubs. He is coming off of the shortest outing of his season his last time out, when he allowed six runs on four hits, walked a season-high five batters, and took the loss in a 9-3 defeat versus Seattle. He has faced three current members of the Cubs, including former battery mate Miguel Montero, and each has one hit against him. Arrieta is 1-0 in his career in three starts against Cleveland, but that number is deceiving. He has allowed five earned runs in each of those starts with a 9.20 ERA. Those efforts came while a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

Tuesday, 6/16, 8:05 PM ET – RHP Shaun Marcum (3-1, 4.09) vs. LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (0-1, 4.84)

Marcum is 2-0 in three career starts in Wrigley Field, but has not pitched there since 2012. He is 4-1 overall in his career against the Cubs in six starts with a 3.93 ERA. The 34-year-old, in his second season pitching in the Majors after a long career in Japan, will be making his 19th career start and his first against Cleveland. He has never faced any of the Indians hitters.

In Cleveland:

Wednesday, 6/17, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.81) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (6-2, 3.54)

Hammel will make his third career start at Progressive Field and his first since 2011, where he is 0-2 in five games with a 7.02 ERA. He is 0-3 against the Tribe in his career with a 5.40 ERA. It will be Salazar’s first career start against the Cubs and the roster in general will be unfamiliar to him. He has only faced Dexter Fowler, who is 1-for-4 in six plate appearances against him with two walks and two strikeouts.

Thursday, 6/18, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 3.80) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 4.38)

Hendricks, a second-year right-hander, will be making his first start against Cleveland and just his third career Interleague start. He has yet to face any member of the Indians roster at the MLB level. Carrasco, like his opponent, has never faced the Cubs. He is 1-1 with a 4.26 in his Interleague starts this season and has held the four Chicago hitters he has faced previously to a .083 average.


Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network will handle each of the four games of the series for the Indians. Calls in Chicago will be split up over the course of the series, with WPWR broadcasting Monday’s game, CSN+ handling Tuesday’s call, and CSN airing each of the final two games in Cleveland. All four will hit the airwaves in Chicago on the Cubs Radio Network.


TEAM                    W-L        PCT        GB          STREAK
Kansas City         34-25     .576         –            L2
Minnesota          34-28     .548        1.5           W1
Detroit                 33-30     .524        3.0          W1
Cleveland            29-33     .468        6.5          L1
Chicago                28-33     .459        7.0          L3


The Indians and Cubs have played 14 games together since their first Interleague series in 1997. The two have not met in almost five years, when Cleveland was swept in a three-game series in Chicago from June 19th through June 21st.

Each team has won seven games, but the edge has been in the Cubs’ favor in more recent battles. After winning each of the first three series against Chicago, Cleveland has gone 1-5 in the last two. Both team has a one-game advantage at home, with the Cubs posting a 3-2 mark at Wrigley Field and the Indians compiling a 5-4 record at Progressive Field. The Cubs have outscored the Indians, 82-72, in the 14 ball games.


Scott Atchison (RP) – activated from 15-day disabled list (June 13)
Gavin Floyd
(SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
C.C. Lee (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (June 13)
Francisco Lindor (SS) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (June 14)
Nick Swisher (DH) – 15-day disabled list (June 13) – left knee inflammation
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery

Chicago (NL):
Junior Lake (OF) – optioned to Triple-A Iowa (June 14)
Tommy La Stella (2B) – 15-day disabled list (April 9) – right rib cage inflammation
Mike Olt (3B) – 60-day disabled list (April 21) – right wrist fracture
Neil Ramirez (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 16) – right shoulder inflammation
Brian Schlitter (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Iowa (June 14)
Jorge Soler (RF) – 15-day disabled list (June 3) – left ankle sprain
Jacob Turner (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 19) – right shoulder inflammation


Second baseman Jason Kipnis extended his hitting streak to ten games with a first inning single in Sunday’s contest. He is now hitting .335 on the season, good for third-best in the American League. He is hitting .393 at home in 29 games with four of his five home runs and 17 of his 28 RBI. He has two singles in three trips to the plate against Arrieta and has a homer in three AB’s against Hammel.

Michael Brantley is 4-for-7 (.571) with a pair of RBI against Arrieta. He is hitting .301 this year and is second on the team with 33 RBI.

Brandon Moss leads the club with eleven home runs and 35 RBI and has boosted his batting average to .255. He also leads the team with 63 strikeouts, 20 more than the next closest teammate (Michael Bourn).

Marcum has had success against several Cubs hitters, holding Castro to a .105 average in 19 at bats and Fowler to a .167 clip in 13 trips to the box. Anthony Rizzo is 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, and Montero is 3-for-7 with a double, homer, and three runs batted in.

Rizzo has slumped in recent games, going 1-for-17 in the series with the Reds with a double and a walk while striking out six times to drop his batting average 20 points to .307 on the year. Montero homered three times in the last week and leads the Cubs with eight RBI in that span while hitting .350.

Chris Coghlan has made good use of his playing time in the last week, boosting his batting average 31 points during his seven-game hitting streak. He has four two-hit games during the stretch.

This series will be the Indians’ first up close and personal look at a pair of top prospects playing in the Windy City, third baseman Kris Bryant and second baseman Addison Russell. Bryant is hitting .391 in the last week and is hitting .294 for the season with seven homers, 12 doubles, and 35 RBI. He has hits in eleven straight games and 14 of his last 15. A hit in his next game will tie his career high of 12 straight games with a hit, set just last month. Russell is hitting .247 with four homers and 17 runs driven in.


The Cubs can be a patient team at the plate, drawing 207 walks to place second amongst all National League teams. But the Indians are the leaders among men, walking 230 times to lead all of baseball. The Cubs have added 584 strikeouts, the top mark in the NL and second in the MLB to the Houston Astros, who enter Monday with 586. The Indians have the second fewest in all of baseball with 414.

The Cubs are third in the NL with 46 stolen bases this season, which does not bode well for an Indians pitching starting staff that has struggled to prevent thefts this season. Carrasco has allowed six stolen bases in ten attempts. Bauer has given up five in nine tries. Salazar has been picked off twice in three tries. Marcum is the best of the bunch, with two failed attempts against him. Indians catchers have thrown out 19 of 38 would-be base stealers.


The late Alvin Dark, who passed away last November, spent time during his playing and coaching career in both Cleveland and Chicago and had nice things to say about the Windy City during his lifetime.

Signed by the Boston Braves in 1946, he debuted that same season, playing 15 games before hitting the minors for a year and a half. He returned in 1948 and hit .322 to win the MLB Rookie of the Year Award, claiming the win over Cleveland rookie pitching phenom Gene Bearden, while finishing third in the MVP voting. After one more season in Boston in 1949, he was dealt to the New York Giants and had some of his best seasons in the Big Apple, making three NL All-Star teams. He spent parts of three seasons to follow with the St. Louis Cardinals before he was traded to the Cubs, spending a year and a half as a Cub. He was later traded to the Phillies, then traded by Philadelphia to the Milwaukee Braves, and dealt against from the Braves to the San Francisco Giants before his playing career concluded.

He appeared in three World Series, including twice against the Indians. He hit just .167 in the 1948 classic, but hit .417 in the Giants’ 1951 loss and .412 in the Giants’ 1954 victory.

“Swamp Fox” managed the Giants for four years, leading the club to the 1962 World Series. He returned to the Cubs in 1965 as a coach and went back to managing with the Kansas City Athletics in 1966 and 1967. He became the Indians manager in 1968 and held a dual role as manager and general manager from 1969 to 1971, when he was fired. He returned to managing with the A’s, now in Oakland, in 1974 and won his first World Series as a manager in his first season there. After two seasons in California, he returned to the Cubs as a coach and later that season was named manager of the San Diego Padres, spending just a short tenure there before he was fired in Spring Training of 1978.


After returning from Chicago to host two more with the Cubs, the Indians will bring on former coach Kevin Cash and his Tampa Bay Rays for the weekend. The Cubs will continue their road trip with another AL Central stop as they head northwest to face off with the Minnesota Twins.

Photo: AP Photo/Duane Burleson

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