Interleague play has brought a pairing of the American League Central and the National League West this season, mashing up some teams with very limited matchups on the diamond. This week, it will be the San Diego Padres who come to Cleveland for the fourth time ever to do battle with the Indians.
The Indians (44-37) return to Cleveland after a brief weekend away from Progressive Field. They were expecting to play four in Detroit in three days, including the makeup of a previous rainout, but in turn had Friday’s series opener washed away to force another makeup matchup with Detroit in September. The Indians took two of three from the Tigers, losing the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday before winning the nightcap and a well-pitched game by Mike Clevinger on Sunday. The Indians hold a two and a half games lead in the AL Central, but both Kansas City and Minnesota remain within striking distance.
San Diego (34-48) is buried near the bottom of the NL West, two and a half games in front of the disappointing San Francisco Giants. As it stands, the season is a lost cause once against for the Friars, as they enter the day 20 games in back of the first place Los Angeles Dodgers. Injuries have once again been a big culprit for the club, but those who have been healthy have failed to deliver. The offense is dead last in baseball in batting average (.228) and on-base percentage (.296). They have scored the fewest runs, have the fewest hits (and doubles), and are second in the NL in strikeouts. Their team ERA (4.70) is fourth-worst in the league. The bullpen is tied for the most homers allowed in the senior circuit, but that group is tied for the second-most Ks in the league.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Tuesday, 7/4, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Trevor Cahill (3-2, 3.27 ERA) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (7-2, 3.02)
Cahill was activated on Tuesday to make the start against Cleveland. He had been on the 10-day disabled list for more than seven weeks while dealing with a right shoulder strain. The 29-year-old right-hander was one of the more reliable pitchers on the Padres staff before succumbing to injury following his May 13 start – he had struck out 51 batters in 41 1/3 innings and won three straight decisions. He has struggled on the road and in July in his career, both of which could help the Indians. He last faced the Tribe in 2011 and owns a 2-2 record with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against them.
Kluber, a 2007 fourth round draft pick of the Padres, has had a good week and another strong start would seem fitting. On Sunday night, he was named as one of the pitchers on the American League All-Star team. On Monday, he earned an easy AL Pitcher of the Month award after posting a 4-0 record in six June starts since returning from his own stint on the disabled list. His last start was another good one as he held the Texas Rangers to a first inning solo homer and three hits in total over eight innings while striking out 12. His streak of four consecutive games with at least ten strikeouts will be on the line against the Padres. He has faced San Diego once in his career, earning a win in 2014 while allowing three runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts in a quality six innings.
Wednesday, 7/5, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Luis Perdomo (3-4, 4.71) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (7-6, 5.24)
Perdomo has been a regular part of the rotation for the Padres in his second season at the Major League level. The 24-year-old right-hander missed a little time in April, but has returned to give San Diego quality outings in nine of his last 12 appearances. He was hit a little harder in his last outing, lasting five and one-third innings while allowing four runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts. Wednesday will be his first career start against Cleveland.
Bauer put together a good June for the Tribe, making six starts and posting a 2-2 record with a 3.82 ERA and .250 batting average against. He has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last three starts and is coming off of a quality outing against the Texas Rangers on June 28, when he allowed a run on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk in six and one-third innings. He has faced the Padres twice in his career, including the last matchup between the two clubs in 2014. He has lost both decisions, allowing seven runs in his first start against them in 2012 before a much better outing the second time around, when he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in six innings more than three years ago.
Thursday, 7/6, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Dinelson Lamet (3-2, 5.35) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (4-9, 6.17)
The Indians will catch the 24-year-old rookie righty Lamet after a career-best outing his last time out against Atlanta, when he fired seven scoreless innings while striking out eight. It marked the first time in his brief MLB career that he had made it beyond six innings. He has made three straight quality starts, starting that streak by striking out a career-high 12 batters in six innings in a no-decision against Milwaukee.
June was rough for Tomlin, as has been much of the season for the veteran right-hander. He was touched up again in his last start against the Tigers in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, allowing four runs on eight hits (including two more home runs). He has yet to face the Padres in his career as he marks a 24th different team off of his list of opposition in his career.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports San Diego
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; XEMO 860, FM 94.9 (San Diego)
Abraham Almonte (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/16) – right biceps strain; on rehab assignment
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Austin Jackson (OF) – 10-day disabled list (6/27) – left quad strain
Danny Salazar (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/4) – right shoulder soreness
Buddy Baumann (RP) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – left shoulder soreness; on rehab assignment
Trevor Cahill (P) – activated from 10-day disabled list (7/4)
Jarred Cosart (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/6) – foot contusion
Chase d’Arnaud (3B) – designated for assignment
Miguel Diaz (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/22) – strained right forearm
Alex Dickerson (OF) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – bulging disc in lower back
Robbie Erlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – recovery from May 2016 Tommy John surgery
Christian Friedrich (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – left lat strain, left elbow soreness; on rehab assignment
Travis Jankowski (OF) – 60-day disabled list (4/24) – right foot bone bruise/fracture
Colin Rea (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/19) – recovery from November 2016 Tommy John surgery
Yangervis Solarte (2B) – 10-day disabled list (6/21) – strained left oblique
Jered Weaver (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/20) – left hip inflammation; on rehab assignment
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians and Padres have a brief history with one another, dating back to 2003 when their first interleague matchup occurred. The teams have played four series and 12 games overall, with the Indians claiming each series to post an 8-4 record all-time against a city that once was home to one of their farm clubs.
The two teams last met in April of 2014, when the Indians took 8-6 and 2-0 victories before dropping a 2-1 decision in the finale. Kluber and Zach McAllister got wins in the series, with John Axford claiming a pair of saves. Bauer lost in the finale.
Tribe skipper Terry Francona will not take part in the first game of the series with the Padres on Tuesday as he will be at the Cleveland Clinic undergoing further testing to try to determine what has been causing a series of ailments that have led him to already miss parts or all of several games this season.
“Tito was actually at the ballpark today,” shared team president Chris Antonetti prior to Tuesday’s game. “He did his normal routine. He actually swam in the pool for a little while today. He felt fine, but he’s now back at the Clinic to get some additional testing. There were no episodes today. It was just, again, in this effort of the doctors trying to narrow down exactly what’s causing his symptoms, so he’ll get some follow-up tests.”
There was no word as to whether or not Francona would be back at the helm for Wednesday’s game or if this could affect his ability to lead the American League All-Stars in a week from Miami. Bench coach Brad Mills will once again handle the Indians’ managerial duties in Tito’s absence.
WHO’S YOUR PADRE?
Erick Aybar, the longtime Los Angeles Angels shortstop, has a good track record against Kluber, going 7-for-17 (.412) with seven singles and a pair of strikeouts. He is 3-for-7 (.429) against Bauer (the only Padre to face him) with a three singles, a walk, two RBI, and two strikeouts in eight total plate appearances. Tomlin, however, has held him down, giving up a double in ten career plate appearances to him with one strikeout.
Wil Myers has faced Kluber three times and struck out twice. He has also faced Tomlin three times with nothing to show for it. He is the team leader in homers and RBI this season with 16 blasts and 42 RBI while hitting .258, but is also the top strikeout guy on the club with an even 100.
Jose Pirela has hit the ball well in 23 games this season, hitting .290. Among more regular contributors this season, Manuel Margot has hit .279 with nine stolen bases in 53 games, but is hitting .435 in the last week with ten hits, including three doubles, a homer, four RBI, and four stolen bases.
Hunter Renfroe is tied for the team lead in homers with 16 and has driven in 39 on the year. He has also hit the ball well in the last week, with ten hits in the last six games. In that span, he has three doubles, a triple, one homer, and four RBI.
INDIANS BY THE NUMBERS
Three Indians have faced Cahill in their careers. Edwin Encarnacion has stepped into the box against him nine times, hitting a pair of singles, striking out once, and driving in a run. Michael Brantley is 3-for-6 with three singles, and Carlos Santana is 1-for-5, but that one hit was a home run.
Jason Kipnis is the only Indian to face Perdomo. He worked a bases loaded walk in his only appearance against him in 2012.
Brantley has been seeing the ball in the last week, hitting .364 over the last six games with eight hits, including a pair of doubles and three RBI. Like Kluber, he was one of five Indians selected for this year’s All-Star Game.
His teammate and his replacement for much of the early part of last season in left field, Jose Ramirez, has continued his MVP-type season and earned the starting nod at third base for the AL squad, led by the Tribe skipper Francona. He has seven hits in the last five games during his active hitting streak. Five of those hits have been for extra bases, including a pair of doubles and three more home runs to give him 15 on the season. He drove in six runs in the final two games of the Indians’ series with the Tigers to give him 42 RBI on the year.
ONE MORE TIME
The Padres will wrap up the first half of the 2017 season with a three-game set in Philadelphia with the Phillies. The Indians will stay put in Cleveland and will hold a rematch with the Tigers, on the heels of their series in Detroit this past weekend. It will be the last series before five Tribe players and the coaching staff head to Miami to participate in this year’s All-Star Game festivities.
Photo: Denis Poroy/Getty Images