While it may be a meaningless piece of information to some, the Cleveland Indians’ nearly two-year run without a losing streak exceeding three games was pretty remarkable. Just a week short of two years ago, the team began what would be a six-game losing skid in what was the most disappointing season of manager Terry Francona‘s reign in the Tribe dugout. This past weekend, the Indians extended their losing streak to four games after losing the first half finale to Detroit before a three-game sweep by the Oakland Athletics.
The Indians (47-43) will look to end their losing ways as they continue their west coast trip with the rare stop at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The two clubs have met for just four series in the past and the Indians have not had much luck against the unfamiliar opposition. Coupled with the bad play out of the All-Star break and the club’s lousy 3-11 record during interleague play this season, the next three days could be a rough go for the Indians.
The Giants (35-58) have seen their season quickly fall apart, aided by the early loss of staff ace Madison Bumgarner. While the team recently got him back from the disabled list, the season is a lost cause as they trail the front-running Los Angeles Dodgers by 29 games in the division and are 17.5 in back of the National League Wild Card picture. They are only a handful of games better than the worst team in baseball this season, the 30-60 Philadelphia Phillies, and did little to help that situation by dropping two of three to the San Diego Padres over the weekend.
The rotation has been one of many areas of concerns for the Giants, as the staff ranks third-to-last in the NL in ERA (4.71) and WHIP (1.42). While they do not give up a lot of free passes and do not strike out a lot of batters, there is a lot of good contact, as they have allowed an NL-worst .277 batting average against on the year. The relief staff has shown room for improvement, but the rotation has combined for a 5.01 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP, among the worst in the league.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Monday, 7/17, 10:15 PM ET – RHP Josh Tomlin (5-9, 5.90 ERA) vs. LHP Matt Moore (3-9, 6.04)
Tomlin has been hit hard in interleague play this season, despite a 2-2 record. His career efforts have ended in more positive results, as he owns a 9-5 mark overall in 18 starts. He has been to the mound four times against NL opponents this year, posting a 6.26 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He is coming off of a good start his last time out, when he pitched into the eighth inning and allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts against the San Diego Padres in a win. The Giants will mark the 25th different team that he has faced in his career.
The 28-year-old southpaw Moore is far removed from the former 2013 All-Star pitcher that he was with the Tampa Bay Rays. He leads the NL in earned runs allowed with 66. His bad ERA is matched by a plump 1.69 WHIP. He was tagged in his last start against Miami on July 7, giving up five runs on 12 hits in just three and one-third innings. It was the third time this season that he has allowed double digit figures in hits in an outing and it matched his second-shortest start of the season. He has faced the Indians six times in his career, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP, but he has not earned a win against them since 2013.
Tuesday, 7/18, 10:15PM ET – RHP Mike Clevinger (5-3, 3.00) vs. LHP Ty Blach (6-5, 4.60)
Clevinger will make his third career interleague start and second this season. His first this year was a rough one, as he allowed five runs on four hits in four innings in a loss to the Colorado Rockies. Over his last five starts, Clevinger has made it hard to consider moves that would upgrade the team’s starting rotation at his expense – he is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a .165 batting average against with 28 strikeouts in that span of 27 innings. His last three outings have been quality starts, including six scoreless innings of three-hit ball against Detroit to earn his fifth win of the year on July 8.
Blach, a 26-year-old left-hander out of Creighton University, debuted last September for the Giants and has split time between the rotation and the bullpen since. This season has followed that same recipe, as he has made 14 starts and seven relief appearances. His numbers in relief have been the more impressive in his career, as he has a 2.31 ERA, a 0.69 WHIP, and has held opposing hitters to a .108 average in his nine games out of the bullpen. He has been in the rotation for the Giants since April 25 after beginning the season as a reliever and has made quality starts in three of his last four outings, including six innings of three-run ball his last time out in a win over Detroit on July 5.
Wednesday, 7/19, 3:45PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (10-4, 3.65) vs. RHP Matt Cain (3-8, 5.56)
Carrasco’s run of five consecutive winning decisions came to an end in his first start to open the second half. He allowed five runs on six hits, including a pair of homers, while walking two and striking out ten against Oakland. He has faced the Giants twice (2011, 2014) and lost twice and is just 5-4 in 15 games of interleague play in his career with a 3.22 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP.
The veteran right-hander and three-time All-Star Cain had moved to the Giants bullpen before an injury opened up a need on the starting staff once again. Home runs have recently spiked for the 32-year-old and in his last start, he allowed five runs on seven hits in six and one-third innings. Interleague play has not been his specialty during his 13-year career as he has posted a 9-15 record with a 3.62 ERA in 31 games (30 starts). That mark includes a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA against the Indians after taking a loss in 2008 and earning a win in 2011 behind seven innings of scoreless four-hit baseball.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; NBCS BA; MLB Network (7/17 & 7/19 – out-of-market)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KXZM 93.7, KNBR 680 (San Francisco)
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain
Austin Jackson (OF) – 10-day disabled list (6/27) – left quad sprain; on rehab assignment
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right hamstring strain
Danny Salazar (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/4) – right shoulder soreness; on rehab assignment
Johnny Cueto (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/15) – blisters
Ryder Jones (3B) – 10-day disabled list (7/7) – right wrist contusion
Mark Melancon (RP) – 10-day disabled list (6/28) – right pronator strain
Michael Morse (UTL) – 10-day disabled list (6/8) – concussion
Jarrett Parker (OF) – 60-day disabled list (4/26) – broken right clavicle; on rehab assignment
Austin Slater (OF) – 10 –day disabled list (7/8) – right groin strain
Will Smith (RP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – recovery from March 2017 Tommy John surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians and Giants have met in the regular season just 12 times in their lengthy histories in Major League Baseball.
The first series between the two was in 2005, when the Indians swept all three games of the interleague series from the Giants, with C.C. Sabathia, Jason Davis, and Cliff Lee each recording wins and Bob Wickman earning a pair of saves.
The Indians have not won in San Francisco since.
The next series between the two clubs was in 2008 in Cleveland, where the Giants took two of three. The teams met up again in 2011 and 2014, with the latter being used as a 60th anniversary event of the Giants’ sweep of the Indians in the 1954 World Series when San Francisco gave fans replica World Series rings. As they did in the ’54 championship, the Giants took every game of the 2011 and 2014 matchups.
GO BIG OR GO HOME
Only three members of the Giants have stepped to the plate against Tomlin in their careers, with two having good results overall.
Denard Span is 5-for-14 (.357) with five singles and a strikeout. Conor Gillaspie is 3-for-4 with two doubles. Both spent significant time in the past in the AL Central. The same success has not been seen by Eduardo Nunez, who is 0-for-9 with a strikeout.
Carrasco has limited the seven members of the Giants who have previously faced him to a .186 average. Hunter Pence has been the best of the bunch, with two hits (including a triple) and two RBI against him.
Gillaspie is 3-for-14 (.214) with a double, two sacrifice flies, and three RBI. Nunez is 2-for-10 with a double and a walk. Span is just 1-for-6 (.167) with a pair of walks. Brandon Crawford is hitless in five trips, while Buster Posey is 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout and Brandon Belt has struck out all three times that he has faced him.
No Giants player has logged a plate appearance against Clevinger at the MLB level.
Power numbers have generally been lacking from the San Francisco lineup this season – they are last in all of baseball with just 77 home runs this season (by comparison, the Indians are 21st with 105). Belt leads the club with 16 homers and is two behind the team leader in RBI, Crawford, who has 46. Belt is tops on the team in doubles with 20, but also leads the club with 91 strikeouts while hitting only .244 on the year.
Posey has had a quality season behind the plate for the Giants, leading to his trip to Miami for the Midsummer Classic. Through 80 games, he is hitting .328 with a .408 on-base percentage with 19 doubles, eleven homers, and 37 RBI.
INDIANS BY THE NUMBERS
Francisco Lindor, hot off of a four-hit game on Sunday, could flourish again at the plate on Monday night against Moore. He is 4-for-6 against the left-hander with a homer and two runs batted in. He hit .417 in the series against Oakland with three doubles. Edwin Encarnacion saw Moore plenty during their time in the AL East together; the Tribe slugger is 6-for-18 (.333) against him with a double, a homer, three RBI, and eight walks. Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes each have a pair of hits off of him, while the All-Star outfielder has driven in three runs in the process and has drawn three walks.
The list of players to face Cain is much smaller, as he has spent his entire career in a Giants uniform. Encarnacion has faced him 15 times, getting four hits (including a double) and drawing two walks. Abraham Almonte is 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout. Brantley has a single and a double in three trips. Carlos Santana has drawn a walk and struck out in his other two plate appearances against the 32-year-old right-hander.
The players in the Indians lineup have yet to face Blach in their careers.
It is little surprise that Jose Ramirez is the Indians’ leading hitter in July. In 12 games, he is hitting .362 with a .412 on-base percentage and a .787 slugging mark. He is tops on the club in homers (five) and RBI (12) in the fourth month of the season.
Santana has seen a spike in production as the summer has heated up. He is hitting .333 in nine games with seven extra base hits among his eleven total hits. That total includes six doubles and a homer. Lindor has also seen an uptick in production at the plate, hitting .283 in July in his 12 games with six doubles, a triple, and five runs batted in.
The Giants will stay home for the second leg of their three-team, ten-game homestand at AT&T Park as they welcome in the division rival San Diego Padres for four games, beginning Thursday night.
With their six-game Bay Area road trip completed, the Indians will take Thursday off before hosting the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night to start a three-team, seven-game homestand that will include a one-game makeup with the Cincinnati Reds and three with the Los Angeles Angels.
Photo: Denis Poroy/Getty Images