The Detroit Tigers team coming to Progressive Field for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians this week is not the same team that the Tribe dismantled in Michigan a week and a half ago. If anything, the three-game sweep on the Tigers home field only seemed to angrily awaken a sleeping giant.
After being outscored 18-5 by the Indians, the Tigers (14-10) have responded with a ton of runs and have won six of seven games since the two clubs met to propel them back over the .500 mark and back to the top of the American League Central. In the two series since against Oakland and Minnesota, the Tigers put up 43 runs and allowed just 23, taking three of four at home from the A’s before sweeping the Twins at Target Field.
The Indians (10-12) have done the opposite since their impressive sweep of the Tigers, dropping six of seven and several in heart-breaking fashion. After narrowly avoiding a sweep in Minnesota, they took three straight losses to the “rebuilding” Philadelphia Phillies in an unpleasant interleague series. Each of the last six games and seven of nine on the road trip were one-run games. Both losses in Minnesota were by walk-off hits, as was the extra inning loss to open the series in Philadelphia. Cleveland is 4-7 this season in those close finishes.
Tuesday, 5/3, 6:10 PM ET – RHP Justin Verlander (2-2, 5.46 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (3-0, 3.18)
Wednesday, 5/4, 6:10 PM ET – RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 6.08) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (1-3, 4.24)
Thursday, 5/5, 6:10 PM ET – RHP Michael Fulmer (1-0, 3.60) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (1-0, 5.28)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports Detroit (all games)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 97.1 The Ticket (Detroit area)
After going just 5-4 at Comerica Park against the Indians last season, the Tigers tripped up to start that portion of their 2016 schedule when Cleveland swept them in Detroit. They will look to return the favor at Progressive Field this week. The Indians are 581-507 against the Tigers at home.
Since the opening of Jacobs Field in 1994, the Indians have a 105-78 record when hosting the Tigers. During that same stretch, they are 90-91 in Detroit.
The Tigers are the Indians’ most frequently played opponent, as the two clubs have been together in the AL since 1901. Detroit has a significant hold in the series, winning 1,108 games while losing 1,060 in 2,180 ball games.
Carlos Carrasco (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 25) – left hamstring strain
Ross Detwiler (RP) – accepted outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus (May 1)
Adam Moore (C) – contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus (May 1)
Roberto Perez (C) – 15-day disabled list (May 1) – right thumb injury
Chad Bell (RP) – acquired via trade from Texas Rangers (May 3); will report to Triple-A Toledo
Jeff Ferrell (P) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – right shoulder impingement; on rehab assignment
Shane Greene (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 25) – blister on right middle finger
Cameron Maybin (OF) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – fractured left wrist; on rehab assignment
James McCann (C) – activated from 15-day disabled list (May 3)
Angel Nesbitt (RP) – 15-day disabled list (March 25) – sprained right ankle; on rehab assignment
Bobby Wilson (C) – traded to the Texas Rangers (May 3)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
ZIMMERMANN PITCHER OF THE MONTH
The Indians will again manage to miss the Tigers’ big free agent pitcher acquisition of the offseason, starter Jordan Zimmermann, and that’s a good thing. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 0.55 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and a .224 batting average against through his first five AL starts. His strong April earned him the AL Pitcher of the Month honor, the second time in his career he has been rewarded by his league for his monthly contributions.
CASTELLANOS HOT AT HOT CORNER
Former 2010 first round pick Nick Castellanos has maintained an impressive start to the season for the Tigers. The third baseman is hitting .440 over the last week with a pair of homers and eight RBI. He is hitting .361 for the year with five doubles, three homers, and 14 RBI. He brings with him a five-game hitting streak to Cleveland.
AN OLD FRIEND
After going 3-for-11 (.273) in the series against the Indians, former Clevelander Victor Martinez has kicked his play up even more. He was 5-for-14 (.357) against the Oakland A’s with two homers and five RBI and then destroyed Minnesota Twins pitching over the weekend, going 9-for-13 (.692) with four doubles, another homer, and three RBI. He hit .519 for the week and is now hitting .350 for the season. He was, not surprisingly, named the AL Player of the Week for his numbers last week.
Indians pitching kept Miguel Cabrera at bay during the first meeting between the two clubs this year, something that the Cleveland franchise is not accustomed to. The slugger was 0-for-7 with a walk in the series and had seen his batting average fall to .206. They may have gotten out of Motown just in the nick of time, as since that series, Cabrera has hit .387 with three doubles, three homers, and six RBI in seven games.
ONE STREAK ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS
Tyler Naquin’s career-best eight-game hitting streak ended with a strikeout in his lone at bat of the series opener against Philadelphia. He was 3-for-8 in the next two games and has now hit safely in ten of his last eleven. He leads the Indians with a .333 batting average and should get some more work in the outfield this week with three straight right-handers on the schedule for the opposing Tigers.
KIPNIS QUIETLY STREAKED
Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis very quietly ripped off a nine-game hitting streak, beginning with the final game of the last homestand for the Indians. It came to an end in Sunday’s loss. He does have a streak of seven consecutive games with a strikeout, though, including a golden sombrero in last Wednesday’s win over Minnesota. He enters play this week hitting .261 for the season.
The Tigers are the first team that the Indians have played more than one series with this season. They will not play another repeat opponent until May 13, when the Twins come to Cleveland.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
Cleveland will continue its mini homestand over the weekend when they host the defending World Champions, the Kansas City Royals, for three days before hitting the road again for Houston. Detroit will head home to play the Texas Rangers for three before heading on the road for a seven-game road trip against the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles.
Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone