Every now and then, the baseball gods look down upon a team and take pity on it. Unless, that is, you are the Padres. They’ve had some extended bad luck.
After going on a nine-game tear, the Cleveland Indians (57-48) have given a few of those wins right back, dropping three in a row and both games of their series in Boston this week. A third game was postponed, forcing the loss of an off day in a week and a half when the team will have to return to Fenway Park for one final game. While the players could have benefited from returning to the diamond to get the sour taste of a painful loss on Tuesday out of their collective mouths, the rest will be needed as the schedule has just two more off days in the rest of August.
The Yankees (57-49) have slipped a bit after a nice winning streak of their own. They won six straight before dropping three of their last four. Combined with the Tribe’s losses to the Red Sox, the club fell a game in back of Boston for the top spot in what is sure to be a tightly contested battle in the American League East for the next two months. The club was busy prior to the deadline, adding two arms to their rotation and two more to their bullpen, in addition to bringing in third baseman Todd Frazier from Chicago. They lead the AL Wild Card race, with a two-game lead over Kansas City for the honor of hosting the one-game play-in game.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Thursday, 8/3, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Sonny Gray (6-5, 3.43 ERA) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (8-3, 2.90)
Gray will make his Yankees debut on Thursday in a marquee matchup against one of the top pitchers in the league this season in Kluber. Gray has already made two starts against Cleveland this season, losing at the end of May after allowing seven runs on nine hits in four and two-thirds innings before bouncing back with a gem his next time out, throwing six innings of scoreless two-hit baseball. He has made six straight quality starts and had won three straight (including the win over the Indians) before allowing four unearned runs on five hits in six innings his last time out on July 25 in a loss in Toronto.
Kluber took a no-decision his last time out in Chicago after a three-run homer and a pair of doubles late evened up the contest with the White Sox at 4-4 in a game Cleveland would go on to win. Three of Kluber’s last four starts have been no-decisions. He has been a strikeout machine of late, with at least 12 in each of his last three starts and at least 10 in eight of his last nine. The 31-year-old will look to extend a personal three-game winning streak against the Yankees. He won each of his starts against them last season, posting a 1.13 ERA over 16 innings with 16 strikeouts and just one walk.
Friday, 8/4, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Jaime Garcia (5-7, 4.29) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (9-8, 5.25)
Garcia joined his third different team this season when the Yankees scooped him up from the Minnesota Twins prior to the trade deadline. It had been an interesting week already for the veteran southpaw, as he was dealt to the Twin Cities by the Atlanta Braves, but made just one start for the club (6.2 IP, 3R/ER, 8 H, 7 K, 3 BB) before he was moved again as the Twins began a collapse in the standings. Like Gray, he will be making his Yankees debut, but unlike Gray, he has never faced the Indians before.
The Indians needed a big outing from Bauer his last time out and he delivered with eight quality innings of one-run baseball. He allowed seven hits and a walk, but minimized the damage while striking out six to earn his second straight win. Bauer has not defeated the Yankees since July 8, 2014 and is 1-4 in six career starts against them with a 5.34 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. He has lost three of his last four decisions against them since, including a July contest last season.
Saturday, 8/5, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.15) vs. TBD
Montgomery, a 24-year-old 6’6” left-hander, will make the first start of his career against the Indians on Saturday. He has spent the season in the Yankees rotation, making 20 starts in his first season in the Majors. He was hit hard his last time out and has struggled of late to pitch late in games. On July 30, he lasted just two and two-thirds innings while allowing four runs on six hits. Two starts before that, he was hit for six runs on seven hits in six innings in a loss against Minnesota.
The Indians had yet to announce their probable starter for Saturday night’s game at the time of this story.
Sunday, 8/6, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Luis Severino (8-4, 2.98) vs. TBD
Severino has won three straight starts for the Yankees, defeating the Detroit Tigers in his last outing on July 31. He allowed just a run on four hits over five innings. He had previously rattled off four straight quality starts. He has faced the Indians twice in his career and both were quality six-inning appearances. He has allowed a combined three runs in the two starts (2.25 ERA) and earned the win his last time out against them on August 22, 2015.
As is the case for Saturday, the Indians had not announced a formal starter for Sunday’s contest at the time of this preview.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); MLB Network (8/4 & 8/5); YES (all)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 (NY)
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/2) – right knee patellar tendinitis
Adam Plutko (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (8/2)
Josh Tomlin (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/31) – left hamstring
New York (AL):
Tyler Austin (1B) – 10-day disabled list (6/29) – right hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Greg Bird (1B) – 60-day disabled list (5/2) – recovery from July 2017 right ankle surgery
Starlin Castro (2B) – 10-day disabled list (7/23) – right hamstring strain
Aaron Hicks (OF) – 10-day disabled list (6/26) – right oblique strain; on rehab assignment
Michael Pineda (SP) – out for season – recovery from July 2017 Tommy John surgery
Austin Romine (C) – day-to-day – left hand swelling
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
A LOOK AT THE YANKEES
The series will mark the first time that the Indians will see outfielder Clint Frazier at the Major League level. The team’s number one draft pick in 2013, fifth overall, was dealt to New York as the primary piece of the Andrew Miller trade. Frazier appeared in 74 games with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting 19 doubles, 12 homers, and driving in 42 while hitting .256. In 24 games since being called up, he has hit .255 over 99 plate appearances with six doubles, three triples, four homers, and 17 RBI.
Brett Gardner has hit in 14 straight games for the Yankees. In a span of 60 at bats, he has notched 19 hits (.317), including four home runs, while driving in seven runs and scoring ten times.
Gray and Garcia will both make their debuts for the Yankees in the series. They join Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, and Montgomery in the mix in what is current a six-man pitching staff.
Starlin Castro leads the Yankees with a .307 average this year and has also chipped in 14 doubles and 12 homers.
The Home Run Derby champion Aaron Judge continues to lead the league in homers with 34. He is also at the top of the leaderboard with 75 RBI on the year while hitting .299. He has slumped heavily since his trip to Miami earlier in the month, hitting just .164 in 19 games since the break with 29 strikeouts in 67 at bats.
INDIANS IN DEPTH
Jason Kipnis has progressed well through his rehab assignment at Double-A Akron. He will get in a full game with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and could be activated by the Tribe, if all goes well, on Sunday.
Mike Clevinger will be skipped over this trip through the rotation after Wednesday’s rain out and an off day on Monday. He will instead provide the Indians with some much needed depth in the bullpen until the Indians have a need for a fifth starter.
Francisco Lindor has a 12-game hitting streak coming into the weekend series with the Yankees. The stretch marks the third time this season that he has put together a hitting streak of ten games or more, done by just two other players in the Majors this season. Lindor is hitting .380 in the streak with 19 hits, including three homers, and has scored ten runs and driven in five. Since the All-Star break, he is hitting .365 with a .420 on-base percentage and a .541 slugging mark.
Carlos Santana has also been a slugging machine since the break, posting a .613 slugging percentage in 17 games with four doubles, five homers, and eleven RBI.
Edwin Encarnacion has struggled a bit with the bat since the break, but is still contributing to the offense. He is hitting just .213, but has a .368 on-base percentage as he has actually drawn more walks (15) than registered hits (13) since the stoppage. Of those 13 hits, three have been for doubles and four have left the yard while he has driven in a club-high 14 runs.
ROCKIES IN THE ROCK ‘N ROLL CITY
The Indians will take Monday off before the Colorado Rockies make their first and only trip to Cleveland this season. The two clubs played already this season in Denver, with the Rockies winning both contests with relative ease. The Yankees will also take Monday off before arriving in Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays.
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