Series Preview #23: Detroit Tigers (35-34) at Cleveland Indians (32-36)

There’s no place like home1, right? But with the Detroit Tigers in town, fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night2, especially if the Cleveland Indians continue to slump at the plate and build upon an American League-worst 14-21 home record so far this season.

You can’t handle the truth3? The Indians scored three runs in three games while members of the 1995 100-win powerhouse squad were in town to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city’s first World Series trip since 1954. Ouch4.

Cleveland, we have a problem5. O Offense, where art thou6? What we’ve got here is failure to touch home plate7.

Just one series after being outscored 20-10 by the Chicago Cubs, but somehow coming away with a pair of victories, the Cleveland (32-36) offense entered some form of hibernation while hosting the Tampa Bay Rays and scored one run in each of the three games of the series. A 4-1 loss on Friday was decided on three solo home runs and a sacrifice fly, while Cleveland’s only run scored on a wild pitch in the first. The next Indians run would not score until 16 innings later, when Francisco Lindor knocked in a run with a fielder’s choice in the eighth, giving the game its final 4-1 score on Saturday. Another scoreless drought of nine straight innings unfolded, but a walk-off sacrifice fly from David Murphy in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon gave the Tribe a 1-0 win to avoid the sweep.

The Tigers (35-34) were having problems scoring, but they seemed to fix that on Sunday. They lost 7-2 in New York to the Yankees on Friday night and were pounded 14-3 on Saturday. They responded with four runs in the first inning and scored five more in the sixth, both totals individually more than the Indians scored in their last 27 innings, on the way to a 12-4 win Sunday to move back over the .500 mark.


Monday, 6/22, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Kyle Ryan (1-1, 3.26 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (6-3, 3.22)

Ryan, the 6’5” lefty, will be making his first career start against the Indians. It will be his eleventh appearance and just his fourth start overall. Bauer is 2-0 against the Tigers in five starts with a 4.34 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. All of those appearances came against Detroit last season. The eight hitters on the Tigers roster who have faced him before have combined to hit .295 off of him with four homers and ten RBI.

Tuesday, 6/23, 7:10 PM ET – LHP David Price (6-2, 2.50) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (6-2, 3.56)

Price is 3-0 in five starts in his career at Progressive Field. He improved to 8-1 against Cleveland in his career with a win his last time out and has not allowed an earned run in 14 2/3 innings against the Tribe in two starts this season. Salazar is 2-2 in his career against Detroit with a 3.06 ERA and 1-1 this season with a 2.57 mark. One of his finest MLB outings came against the Tigers last season in a complete game shutout.

Wednesday, 6/24, 12:10 PM ET – RHP Justin Verlander (0-1, 6.17) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (8-6, 4.35)

Verlander allowed six runs on ten hits in earning his first loss of the season on Friday against the Yankees after receiving a no-decision in his first start of the season against Cleveland on June 13th. He is 9-12 in his career at Progressive Field with a 5.35 ERA. Carrasco has had a bit of trouble against the Tigers over his career, posting a 3-6 record against them with a 6.93 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, and .366 batting average allowed. He is 1-1 against them this season, but has a 7.20 ERA in his two starts.


Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Detroit will handle the television presentation of all three games, while the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit will broadcast all three on-air options.


TEAM                    W-L        PCT        GB          WCGB   STREAK
Kansas City         39-27     .591         –               –           L1
Minnesota          37-32     .536        3.5            –           L2
Detroit                 35-34     .507        5.5           2.0         W1
Cleveland            32-36     .471        8.0           4.5        W1
Chicago                30-38     .441       10.0         6.5         W2

The Indians lost no ground on the three teams above them, as the top four of the division all went 1-2 in their respective series over the weekend. The White Sox gained a game on everyone, ending an eight game losing streak by defeating the Texas Rangers Saturday and Sunday by 3-2 finals.


With two wins in three tries when the clubs met earlier in the month, the Tigers pushed their lead in the all-time series between the teams to 1,104-1,052. Cleveland still holds a 578-504 advantage when playing at home.

The Indians were swept by the Tigers when they hosted them in their first homestand of the season. They have dropped four of their last five to the Tigers overall and have dropped four straight home games to their division rival.


Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Yan Gomes (C) – day-to-day – neck tightness
Shaun Marcum (SP) – outrighted to Triple-A Columbus after clearing waivers (June 20)
Nick Swisher (DH) – 15-day disabled list (June 13) – left knee inflammation
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery

Alex Avila (C) – 15-day disabled list (May 8) – left knee injury, expected to begin rehab assignment this week
Kyle Lobstein (SP) – 15-day disabled list (May 24) – left shoulder inflammation
Joe Nathan (CL) – 15-day disabled list (May 8) – Tommy John surgery in April


He’s hitting .346, on-base at a .450 clip, and slugging .593. He has 15 homers, he’s driven in 51 runs, and crossed the plate 40 times himself. He has balanced his 48 strikeouts with 45 walks. His name is Miguel Cabrera, and if the Indians were wise, they would very quickly add to his eleven intentional walks this season, the exact same number that the rest of the entire Tigers roster has.

It’s no secret that Cabrera has feasted on Indians pitching throughout his career. He only enters the series with a .364 batting average and .435 on-base percentage in 139 games. He has faced only the Minnesota Twins as many times as he has the Indians, but his destruction of the Indians seems to know no bounds. His 40 homers off of Tribe pitching are the most he has against any one club. His 127 RBI equal the number he has plated against the Twins for the most in his career. His 195 hits are 36 more than the next closest club (again, the Twins).

And if that wasn’t enough to be feared, he’s hitting .647 this season with 22 hits in 34 at bats in nine games. Fifteen singles, two doubles, and five homers, plus one sacrifice fly, have led to 15 runs batted in, already five more than he had all of 2014 against Cleveland and in ten fewer games. In addition to the hit total, he’s drawn seven walks and been issued four other free passes.

He has been nearly all or nothing against Salazar in his career. In 20 plate appearances, he has one walk, seven hits, and nine strikeouts. Three of the hits have been for extra bases, including two home runs, and his five RBI lead the Tigers against the right-hander.

Word to the wise: Don’t. Pitch. To. Miggy.


Jason Kipnis extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a ninth inning single that moved the eventual winning run to third base. It also extended his record home hitting streak to 25 games. The last time he was hitless at home was on April 30th, when he went 0-for-5 against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of their four game series. He got eight hits in his final 12 at bats over the last three games of the set.

Kipnis is now hitting .345 on the season with five homers, 10 stolen bases, and 28 RBI. He is hitting .409 at Progressive Field, .361 in the month of June, .373 in the leadoff spot, and .397 against right-handed pitching.

Michael Brantley had the rare bad series over the weekend. He was just 1-for-11 (.091) with a single and a walk in the three games. His hitless games in the final two games of the series marked the first time this season that he has gone consecutive games without a hit. He is hitting .321 in his career against Verlander with eight runs batted in.

Jose Iglesias remains near the top of the American League batting race with a .323 average over his first 59 games. He has very consistently hit .324 over the last month.

J.D. Martinez homered three times in the Tigers win over the Yankees on Sunday. He has seven in the last month and has driven in 20 runs. The home run output is tops on the team in that span, while the RBI total is tied with that of Cabrera. He has hit .455 in 11 at bats against Bauer with a homer and two runs batted in.

Victor Martinez missed out on the opportunity to inflict further harm on his former organization after spending time on the 15-day disabled list. Just activated, he will try to build on his .333 average against the Tribe this season with six RBI. He hit .319 against Cleveland pitching in 2014 with seven homers and 15 RBI and is a career .351 hitter versus the Indians.


With their brief three-team, eight-game homestand complete, the Indians will take Thursday off before hitting the road to Baltimore, where they will play the Orioles for three games for the first time this season. The Tigers will head home to welcome in the Chicago White Sox to Comerica Park for a four-game series beginning Thursday night.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

*Adapted, with love and respect, to quotes or titles of the following films: The Wizard of Oz1; All About Eve2; A Few Good Men3; E.T. The Extra Terrestrial4; Apollo 135; O Brother, Where Art Thou6; and Cool Hand Luke7.

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