Contingent from Cleveland to Duke it Out in Detroit

It will be a busy Detroit-themed weekend for Cleveland sports fans this weekend, as the MLB’s Indians and NBA’s Cavaliers head to that state up north to do battle all weekend long. The Indians will head to Comerica Park for three games with the Tigers in their first matchup of the season against their American League Central Division rivals, while the Cavs will look to wrap up their first round playoff series against their Eastern Conference Central Division rivals, the Pistons, on Friday and Sunday nights.

If you glance at the pitching probables for the upcoming series between Cleveland and Detroit, you might see something that the Indians (6-7) have not seen at all this season – a scheduled rotation full of right-handed pitchers. After seeing seven left-handed starters over their first 13 games of the year, the Tribe will see three Tigers righties over the weekend. They are coming off of an offensively inconsistent series against the Seattle Mariners, where they struggled to produce runs while splitting the first two games, then put up seven runs on Thursday but lost by a 10-7 final in ten innings to fall back below even for the season.

The results have been mixed for the Tigers (8-6) to start their 2016. After sweeping a two-gamer in Miami to open the season, they split a pair against New York and took three of four from Pittsburgh in a home-and-home series. But after dropping two of three to Houston and Kansas City, they return home from their road trip with a 4-4 record. When the Indians and Tigers open on Friday night, it will be just the fifth game to be played in Detroit this season, where the Kitties of Motor City are just 2-2.


Friday, 4/22, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Josh Tomlin (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (1-1, 7.16)
Saturday, 4/23, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.16) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 4.60)
Sunday, 4/24, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 2.79) vs. RHP Shane Greene (1-1, 7.15)


TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); Fox Sports Detroit+ (Friday); Fox Sports Detroit (Saturday, Sunday); MLB Network (Sunday for out-of-market regions)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 97.1 The Ticket (Detroit area)


The Tigers are the Indians’ most frequently played opponent, as the two clubs have been together in the American League since 1901. Detroit holds the edge in the series, winning 1,108 games while losing 1,057 in 2,177 official ball games. They hold a strong 601-476 advantage while playing as the home team.

Detroit’s dominance of the Tribe has continued for years, as they have won the season series between the two clubs in five of the last seven years. Last season, they won eleven of 18 games, with one game unplayed after several September rainouts last year.

They were just 5-4 against the Indians at Comerica Park.


Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 25) – recovery from right shoulder surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – activated from 15-day disabled list on April 20
Collin Cowgill (OF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (April 20)
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 4) – recovery from offseason core muscle surgery; on rehab assignment with Columbus

Jeff Ferrell (P) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – right shoulder impingement; on rehab assignment
Logan Kensing (RP) – outrighted to Triple-A Toledo (April 20)
Cameron Maybin (OF) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – fractured left wrist; has completed rehab assignment, will start a new one on April 23
James McCann (C) – 15-day disabled list (April 12) – right ankle sprain
Angel Nesbitt (RP) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – sprained right ankle
Daniel Norris (SP) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – back injury; on rehab assignment
Humberto Quintero (C) – signed to a minor league contract (April 19)


Team Record Win % GB
 Kansas City  10-5  .667  –
 Chicago  10-6  .625  0.5
 Detroit  8-6  .571  1.5
 Cleveland  6-7  .462  3.0
 Minnesota  5-11  .313  5.5


Upton and Ausmus - Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Upton and Ausmus – Scott Halleran/Getty Images


Outfielder Justin Upton and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann were among the notable additions by the Tigers in the offseason. They also spent a lot of focus on the bullpen, acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers, relief pitcher Justin Wilson from the New York Yankees, and signed free agent Mark Lowe, briefly a member of the Indians in 2014. He is joined on the list of offseason moves by the Tigers by another former Indians player, Mike Aviles.


The middle of the Tigers lineup is no less lethal than that of previous seasons, as the team returns notorious Indians killers Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez.

Cabrera, 33 and in his 14th big league season, is off to a bit of a slow start at the plate, hitting .232 with three doubles, one homer, and six RBI in the early going for the Tigers. The ten-time All-Star has made a career of feasting on Indians pitching, owning a lifetime .353 average and .426 on-base percentage in 147 games. He has hit more homers (40) and driven in more runs (129) than any other opponent he has faced in his big league career.

The 37-year-old former Indians fan favorite Martinez has seen similar success against his former team throughout his career. In 80 games, he has hit .336 with a .405 OBP with 12 homers and 63 RBI. He hit a career-low .263 against the Tribe last season with just two extra base hits (both doubles) and nine RBI. His RBI in Wednesday’s game against the Kansas City Royals was the 1,000th of his MLB career. He is hitting .262 on the year.

The younger Martinez (no relation) has hit twice as many homers against the Indians (15) than the next closest opponent (Minnesota – 7). His 43 runs driven in against Cleveland are nearly double the next highest output (Pittsburgh – 23). He is a .301 hitter against Indians pitching in his career and is hitting .321 to start the season.


Offseason acquisition Maybin completed his rehab assignment during the week, but is not ready to be activated. He remains on the 15-day disabled list and will start a second rehab assignment over the weekend with Triple-A Toledo as he continues to work towards a return from his fractured left wrist suffered during Spring Training. He was hit by a pitch on the same wrist during his rehab assignment on Sunday, but x-rays came back negative.

Napoli - AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Napoli – AP Photo/Tony Dejak


Indians slugger Mike Napoli came up big off of the bench in Thursday afternoon’s game, delivering the first pinch-hit home run of his eleven-year career. It tied the game at seven, one Cleveland would ultimately lose, 10-7, in ten innings. He was 1-for-11 prior to the home run after seeing his eight-game hitting streak come to an end.


Cleveland outfielder Rajai Davis will be making his return to Comerica Park, his home of the past two seasons while a member of the Tigers. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with a two-hit effort on Thursday. He has ten hits (including six singles, two doubles, and two homers) during that span with five RBI and four stolen bases. Like Napoli, he delivered a big home run on Thursday, one that cut into the Mariners’ 5-0 lead at the time with the three-spot.


Indians left fielder Brantley is getting closer to his return from the 15-day disabled list while rehabbing his right shoulder after offseason surgery. He went 3-for-4 in Double-A Akron’s 3-2 ten inning win on Wednesday night before taking Thursday off. He is now hitting .357 in five games while on assignment. He is expected to play in games on both Friday and Saturday before his status is re-evaluated. The Indians have said previously that they wanted him to play in consecutive games before being activated.


The Indians will continue their nine-games-in-ten-days road trip by swinging through Target Field in Minneapolis as they take on the Twins for three games starting Monday night. The Tigers will stay put and welcome in the Oakland Athletics for a four-game series starting Monday.

Photo: AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

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