Tribe Returns to Wrigley Field for Two-Game Set with Cubs

The Cleveland Indians will return to Wrigley Field for the first time since Game 5 of the 2016 World Series this week as the Tribe takes on the Chicago Cubs in a brief two-game set to conclude a three-city, eight-game road trip. Be prepared for plenty of mentions during the series of the Indians’ 3-2 loss at “The Friendly Confines”, when the Tribe left the tying run in scoring position in two of the final three innings of the fateful contest.

The Indians (22-23) are coming off of a pair of road series losses to the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros, starting off their road trip on a tough 2-4 note. They were 12-8 at the time of their previous visit with the Cubs at the end of April, showing that things have not necessarily gone very well for the Tribe in that span. For a team with playoff aspirations and nearly everyone’s pick to win the AL Central, the Indians have won just one of their last six series and have looked like a team in need of some major moves before the deadline. Despite a losing record for the year and a 9-14 mark on the road, the Indians are still a game up on the Minnesota Twins in the division at the start of the day.

The Cubs (25-19) have put up a confusing month of May, posting a 9-9 record since the calendar flipped. While they have a lopsided +/- of +36 runs for the month, one must look closer at the competition that they have faced as they have beat up on the teams that they are supposed to. They swept Miami, took two of three from the crosstown White Sox, and claimed three of four from Cincinnati, but the better performing teams like Colorado (0-2), St. Louis (0-3), and Atlanta (1-2) have posed problems for the third place team in the National League Central. The Cubs are attempting to reach the playoffs for a fourth straight season, something the club has never done.

Bauer – Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES

Tuesday, May 22, at 7:05 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (3-3, 2.59 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 3.14)

After a rough start against Kansas City on May 11, Bauer got back on track in a big way in an impressive start against Detroit on May 16, firing eight shutout innings while striking out ten Tigers in a 6-0 win. His second win of the season came against Chicago back on April 25 when he threw six and two-thirds innings of one-run baseball, walking three and giving up four hits while striking out eight. He has won both career starts against the Cubs in the regular season, posting a 0.66 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 13 2/3 innings.

Chatwood got the start in the series opener the last time the two clubs met in April. At the time, he was 0-3 with a 4.60 ERA, so things have taken a turn for the better for the offseason free agent acquisition. He has won three straight decisions in a five-start span, beginning with his defeat of the Indians no April 24. He allowed one run to the Tribe in six innings, giving up four hits but walking five on the night. He took a no-decision in his last start, allowing a run on four hits in five and one-third innings in a 4-1 loss to Atlanta.

Wednesday, May 23, at 8:05 PM ET – RHP Adam Plutko (1-0, 3.68) vs. LHP Jon Lester (4-1, 2.52)

Plutko will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday to make his second Major League start. In a spot start in a doubleheader at the beginning of the month, he threw seven and one-third innings of three-run baseball in a win against the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing three solo homers in a 13-4 blowout. The fifth-year pro and 26-year-old right-hander was off to a strong start at Triple-A Columbus, going 4-3 with a 2.25 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP in seven starts and 44 innings of work. A corresponding roster move will need to be made to add him to the 25-man mix in Cleveland.

Lester has continued his strong start to the season, with his only loss coming against the Indians on April 25 despite a quality effort from the mound. He was charged with three runs on four hits in seven innings, but he allowed three solo homers in the contest, matching the number of long balls that he has given up in his other eight starts in 2018. The 34-year-old has won back-to-back starts, including a strong six innings of one-run, two-hit baseball against the Cincinnati Reds on May 18 with a season-high eight strikeouts.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (both); WGN (5/22); NBC Sports Chicago (5/23); ESPN (5/22); MLB Network (out of market, 5/23)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); 670 The Score (Chicago)

TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES

Cleveland:
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Melky Cabrera (OF) – contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus (5/20)
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (4/8) – right calf strain; on rehab assignment
Nick Goody (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – right elbow inflammation
Evan Marshall (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (5/20)
Ryan Merritt (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left hamstring strain
Alexi Ogando (P) – designated for assignment (5/20) from Triple-A Columbus
Adam Plutko (SP) – to be recalled from Triple-A Columbus (5/23); corresponding move unknown
Danny Salazar (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis; shut down
Bradley Zimmer (CF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left rib contusion

Chicago (NL):
Eddie Butler (RP) – 10-day disabled list (4/20) – right groin strain
Randy Rosario (P) – optioned to Triple-A Iowa (5/20)
Drew Smyly (SP) – 60-day disabled list (2/16) – recovery from July 2017 UCL surgery

Bryant & Rizzo – Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

CUBS STATS AND NOTES

Kris Bryant missed the previous series between the Indians and Cubs while dealing with the aftereffects of being hit in the head by a pitch. He has bounced back big for the club in May, appearing in 17 games while slashing .319/.410/.667 with seven doubles, six homers, and 13 RBI. The extra base hit production is tops on the club in that span. For the year, he is slashing .305/.427/.583 with 14 doubles (a team high), eight homers, and 24 RBI.

Anthony Rizzo was slumping when the Cubs came to Cleveland, but May has been more favorable to the strong defender at first base. He has hit .261 with a .338 on-base percentage and a .536 slugging mark with four doubles, five homers, and a team-leading 21 RBI. For the year, however, he is just over the .200 mark at .203 with four doubles, six homers, and 30 RBI.

Kyle Schwarber, who was a pest when returning to Ohio and Progressive Field, has cooled off with the bat in May. In 14 games of action, he has hit .208 with two doubles, a triple, one homer, and just three RBI. He is tied, however, for the team lead in that span in walks with 13. He has eight homers for the year and has driven in 20 runs.

Javier Baez is the team-leader in homers and RBI, with 11 and 38, respectively.

TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS

Michael Brantley owns the longest active hitting streak in the Majors at ten games. He has hit well throughout the season and that has continued throughout the month of May, when he leads the team with 19 RBI. During his hitting streak, he is slashing .349/.391/.674 with 15 hits, including four homers and 12 RBI. On the year, Brantley is hitting .331 with a .366 OBP and a .570 slugging mark with eleven doubles, seven homers, and 29 RBI.

Francisco Lindor is second among club regulars in batting with a .298 average for the season. In 45 games (a team high), he has 14 doubles and 12 homers while driving in 27 runs. He is the team’s leader at the plate in May, hitting .372 with a .782 slugging mark, hitting eight doubles and eight homers while driving in 16 and winning a pair of Player of the Week Awards.

Brantley & Ramirez – Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Jose Ramirez has climbed up the team’s leaderboard in batting average, improving to .295 for the year with a team-high .601 slugging percentage. He is tied for the team lead with 14 doubles (matching Lindor), and is tops with 13 homers and 31 RBI. He has also drawn 24 walks on the year while striking out just 18 times. He has hit .338 in May with nine doubles, six homers, and 15 RBI, and is the team’s top base stealer in the month with four in six attempts.

TRIBE TRIVIA

This Hall of Fame infielder spent nearly his entire career in the Indians dugout during some of the more competitive years in Tribe history, beginning with a one-game appearance in 1938. His time in Cleveland included an extensive role, eight All-Star appearances, a batting title, and an MVP. The multi-sport collegiate star later returned home to Illinois and spent significant time in the broadcast booth, as well as a one-year run back in the dugout as manager, for the Cubs.

Who am I?

The 6’7” “Red Baron” spent some of his most successful big league seasons with the Indians and Cubs. A Rookie of the Year with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1979, he joined the Tribe in 1982 and was an All-Star in 1983, going 17-11. He started 1984 with the Tribe, but after a 4-5 start with a 5.15 ERA in 15 games, he was dealt to the Cubs with two others for a package that included Joe Carter. He had a miraculous turnaround for the eventual NL East champs in his new locale, going 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA in his final 20 starts of that season to claim the league’s Cy Young award.

Who am I?

I’M COMING HOME

The schedule does not get any easier for the Tribe, as they will rematch the Astros in a four-game series beginning in Cleveland on Thursday night, just three days after going 1-2 in Houston against them. They will then wrap up a week straight at home with a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox before making their first trip to Minnesota to close out May.

Chicago will continue its short homestand, hosting the San Francisco Giants in three straight over the weekend after an off day on Thursday.

Photo: David Banks/Getty Images

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