Indians and Reds Square Off in Queen City as Battle of Ohio Begins
Bob Toth | On 22, May 2017
It’s that time of year again that the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds renew their forced interleague rivalry as Ohio clubs playing at opposite ends of the state. The two teams will start a four-game series from Great American Ball Park, playing twice there before the series relocates to Progressive Field for the final two contests on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The Indians (23-19) have had their problems at home this season, but those issues have extended to the road far less. They are one of just three teams (see also: Houston, Colorado) to win 15 games away from home already this season. Cleveland comes into this home-and-home series for the Ohio Cup one game up on Minnesota in the wins column, but also one game worse in the losses column, putting the Indians two-thousandths of a point behind the Twins for the top spot in the American League Central Division.
The Reds (20-23) have a winning record this season at Great American Ball Park, but have hit a tough stretch of their schedule. They have dropped eight of their last ten and have not won a series since sweeping the San Francisco Giants over the first weekend of the month. While they are in the middle of the National League pack in most offensive statistics, they do lead their league in triples (16) and stolen bases (46). Their pitching has dragged down decent offensive contributions, as they have the third-worst team ERA in the league with a 4.77 mark. The staff is tied for the most homers allowed in the NL and has issued the second-most walks. Their 5.93 ERA by their starting pitching is the worst in all of baseball.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
After starting the month with back-to-back high quality starts, allowing a run in each appearance over a total of 15 innings, Tomlin took a step backwards last Wednesday in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays when he allowed six runs on seven hits and was unable to escape the third inning while taking his fifth loss on the year. He will be making his sixth career start against the Reds, looking to improve upon a 2-2 record with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.
The 13-year veteran Feldman has spent time in the Majors since 2005, representing the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, and now the Reds. In his first season with the club, he will look to get back into the win column for the first time since throwing a 4-0 complete game shutout against San Francisco on May 7. He is coming off of his worst outing of the season, when he allowed seven runs on five hits and three walks in two and two-thirds innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs. He is 2-3 in 15 career games (six starts) against Cleveland with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.
Carrasco has been the ace and workhorse of the Indians pitching staff this season. It will be his first start since leaving his last outing early with left pectoral issues, leading him to be pushed back several days in the rotation. He was not his usual effective self that day, as he had allowed five runs on six hits with three walks in his first non-quality start since his season debut. He has faced the Reds four times in his career (three starts) and owns a 2-0 record with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Last season, he was 1-0 and allowed three runs on eight hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings of work.
The rookie left-hander Garrett will make his eighth Major League start and his first against the Indians. He was optioned to Triple-A Louisville earlier in the month, despite a good start to his season, to help limit his innings. Instead, his return led to his second shortest start of the year, as he was hit for six runs on five hits with four walks in four innings. After allowing just four runs in his first three starts of the season and just one home run, he has given up 20 runs and seven homers over his last four starts.
TV (both games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports Ohio (out-of-market)
Radio (both games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WLW 700 (Cincinnati)
Abraham Almonte (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/16) – right biceps strain
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/14) – left wrist sprain
Austin Jackson (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/2) – left great toe hyperextension
Corey Kluber (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – lower back strain
Homer Bailey (SP) – 60-day disabled list (2/14) – recovery from February 2017 right elbow surgery
Tony Cingrani (P) – 10-day disabled list (4/19) – right oblique strain
Anthony DeSclafani (P) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – UCL sprain in right elbow
Brandon Finnegan (P) – 60-day disabled list (4/16) – left teres major strain
Nefi Ogando (RP) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – right thumb inflammation
Nick Travieso (P) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right shoulder inflammation
Stuart Turner (C) – 10-day disabled list (5/20) – right hamstring s train
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
A trip to Cincinnati means a return to where it all started for Indians first baseman and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. The slugger was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the ninth round of the 2000 draft, but he was dealt just over a year later to the Reds with Ruben Mateo for Rob Bell.
Encarnacion made his big league debut with the Reds in 69 games in 2005, but never blossomed fully into the third baseman that they hoped he would be. With fluctuating numbers at the plate and a steadily rising strikeout total, he was dealt to Toronto in 2009 for veteran third baseman Scott Rolen in a trade that would help both sides in the end.
Encarnacion did not catch on initially in Toronto and was actually claimed off of waivers following the 2010 season by the Oakland Athletics, but they would release him less than three weeks later and he would make his way back to the Blue Jays on a new contract. He blossomed from there, hitting 34 or more homers in five straight seasons from 2012 to 2016 while being named an All-Star in 2013, 2014, and 2016.
REDS BY THE NUMBERS
Zack Cozart is a leader of the Reds offense this season. In 36 games, he has supplied a .351/.432/.595 line at the plate with a dozen doubles, four triples, four homers, and 19 RBI. He leads the club in doubles and walks and is tied for the lead in triples. He is hitting .429 over the last week with nine hits, including a pair of homers. He has owned Tomlin in limited action against him in his career, registering seven hits in 12 plate appearances (.636 average) with a pair of doubles and a triple.
Scott Schebler and Joey Votto are tied for the Reds’ home run lead and are tied for fifth in the National League with 12 dingers this season. Each has hit two homers and driven in five over the last week. Votto’s 38 RBI are tops on the club and second in the NL to Colorado’s Mark Reynolds. The first baseman has three hits off of Tomlin, including a pair of home runs and five RBI. He is 4-for-9 off of Carrasco with a double, a homer, and two RBI, but has struck out three times.
Third baseman Eugenio Suarez has continued his steady play at the hot corner. In 42 games this season, he has hit .305 with ten doubles, a triple, nine homers, and 27 RBI. He has nine plate appearances against Carrasco in his career with a pair of singles, a solo homer, and four strikeouts.
Billy Hamilton is the Major League leader in stolen bases with 23 in 25 attempts. He has ten more than the next closest person on the list.
Opposing hitters are batting .308 against Garrett with runners in scoring position this season. The key may be to strike early against him – he has given up ten runs in the first inning this season in seven starts.
INDIANS IN DETAIL
Jason Kipnis has hit in seven straight games since moving back into the leadoff spot for the Indians and manager Terry Francona. In that stretch, he has posted a .387/.424/.742 slash with two doubles, three homers, and nine RBI. He has fared well against Feldman in his career, going 4-for-11 with a double.
Indians hitters have combined to hit .186 off of Feldman with a .213 on-base percentage. Kipnis has four of the eleven hits accumulated in 63 plate appearances by the club. Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall each have two hits against him, with Santana hitting a homer and driving in three. Encarnacion also has a homer and three RBI to his credit against him.
Yan Gomes is hitting .400 in four games this week with six hits, including three doubles, a homer, and six runs batted in.
Michael Brantley is batting .304 over his last six games with four doubles and four walks.
Francisco Lindor has hit .276 during his active seven-game hitting streak. He has six one-hit games in the span and has two doubles, a homer, and an RBI.
Four of Chisenhall’s last five hits have gone for extra bases. Three have left the yard and he has driven in six runs over the last week while walking four times.
Tomlin has been an efficient hitter in his brief chances in the Majors, including in his last two starts in Cincinnati. He singled in a game at GABP in 2012 and had a two-hit game there last season, hitting a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly in the outing. In 15 career plate appearances, Tomlin is a .429 hitter (six hits) with seven strikeouts.
The Reds and Indians will pack up after Tuesday’s game to fly north to Cleveland, the site of the final two games of the series between the two clubs.
First pitch on Wednesday night is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET from Progressive Field.
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images