The last time the Cleveland Indians showed up in Detroit, things did not go so well against the Tigers. This time, they will hope to ride a wave of better play during the week as they kick off a three-game series from Comerica Park on Friday night.
The Indians (32-28) made up for a rough prior weekend against the Minnesota Twins with a pair of wins over the National League’s best, the Milwaukee Brewers, in a short homestand during the week sandwiched between off days on Monday and Thursday. The Indians had gotten June off to a bad start, losing the final three games of their series on the road with the Twins, but found a way to make six total runs stand up against the Brewers in a pair of well-pitched games from the Tribe pitching staff as a whole. Cleveland is 5-2 on the year against the Tigers, but just 1-2 in Detroit after a tough 6-3 loss and six answered runs in the middle game of a three-gamer during the mid-May set.
The Tigers (30-34) have hung around the divisional race, despite low expectations for the club after purging a significant amount of money, and therefore, talent over the course of the last year. They have opened the month of June with a 4-4 record, taking two of three from the Blue Jays before splitting a doubleheader with the Yankees on Monday. They were outscored 15-8 in a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway during the week, losing the first two games before winning a 7-2 final on Thursday. They will celebrate the Negro Leagues this weekend with the Indians in town and come into the series four games in back of Cleveland in the AL Central.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Bauer was the lone winning pitcher from the Tribe’s previous trip to Detroit this season and did so with his best outing of the year. He worked eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, issuing no walks for the first and only time so far this year, and struck out ten in a 6-0 shutout. He faced the Tigers when they came through Cleveland in April and he dominated them then as well, allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings to earn his first win of the season. He is coming off of a tough start his last time out against Minnesota, as he struck out eleven batters for his third double-digit K game in his last four starts, but allowed seven runs (just three earned) on six hits with three walks in five and two-thirds innings. He is 3-1 in his career at Comerica Park and 6-5 all-time against the Tigers.
The 25-year-old Fulmer, a first rounder in 2011 by the New York Mets, has not been able to find a lot of success on the mound and has not been able to pitch deep into games. He has pitched into the seventh inning just four times in 12 starts and just twice has he made more than 100 pitches in an outing. He faced the Indians back on April 12 and was lit up in his worst outing of the year as he allowed nine runs (six earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts and two home runs allowed in three-plus frames to further bloat his career-worst ERA against the Indians to 7.31 in six starts. In his most recent start, he gave up four runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in a six-inning loss against Toronto.
The 27-year-old Clevinger took his sixth no-decision in twelve starts this season in his most recent outing against the Minnesota Twins. He was charged with four runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six-plus innings, but it was a pair of home runs that hurt. He entered the game with just four allowed, but the Twins got to him twice. Clevinger has held the Tigers in check in his short career, posting a 4-1 record with a 2.28 ERA in six games (five starts). Last season, he made four starts against them and won all four times, allowing just two earned runs (0.76 ERA) on 14 hits and ten walks with 23 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.
Fiers has had the Indians’ number throughout his career. He is 3-1 in five starts against Cleveland over the last three seasons, posting a 2.22 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He held the Tribe to just one run and three hits in six innings of work his last time out against them in the middle of May to earn his fourth win of the year. Like Fulmer, he does not last long into outings, taking a six and fly approach on the mound – he has pitched into the sixth inning in ten of his eleven starts, but completed that inning just three times. He has thrown 100 pitches just twice this year.
For the 13th straight time to open the 2018 season, Kluber fired a quality start and for the ninth time, he took home the win as the Indians defeated the Brewers by a 3-2 final in his start on Tuesday. He allowed one run and scattered seven hits while striking out seven to drop his ERA back under two for the first time since April 22. The strong start marked his fifth straight outing without giving up a walk, a span of 33 1/3 innings that included much of his one-walk May. Kluber owns a 9-7 lifetime mark against the Tigers in 23 appearances with a 1.19 WHIP. He is 7-1 against them over the last three seasons with a 2.67 ERA.
Lewicki, an eighth rounder in 2014 by the Tigers out of the University of Virginia, attended the same New Jersey high school as Indians minor league pitcher Rob Kaminsky. The 26-year-old will get the opportunity to make just his third Major League start on Sunday and he earned it with his first big league appearance against the Indians on May 16, when he threw four scoreless innings of three-hit baseball with a walk and four strikeouts. He made his first start of the season for the Tigers on June 5, working three and two-thirds innings against Boston while allowing four runs (two earned).
TV (all): Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports Detroit
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); 97.1 The Ticket (DET)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – activated from 10-day disabled list (6/5)
Nick Goody (RP) – transferred to 60-day disabled list (5/31) – right elbow inflammation (since 5/3)
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/20) – left cervical strain
Ryan Merritt (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/26) – right knee inflammation
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Danny Salazar (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis; shut down
Bradley Zimmer (CF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (6/5)
Ryan Carpenter (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/1) – right oblique strain
Francisco Liriano (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/27) – right hamstring strain
Daniel Norris (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/30) – recovery from May 2018 left groin surgery
Ronny Rodriguez (UTL) – optioned to Triple-A Toledo (6/7)
Daniel Stumpf (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/29) – ulnar nerve irritation in left arm
Alex Wilson (RP) – activated from 10-day disabled list (6/7)
Jordan Zimmermann (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/6) – right shoulder impingement
TIGERS STATS AND NOTES
Miguel Cabrera rejoined the Tigers when the calendar flipped to June after spending nearly a month of the season on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. The 35-year-old has played in 34 games this season, putting together a .306/.397/.471 slash with eleven doubles, three homers, and 22 RBI in his limited body of work. He went 2-for-15 with two singles and a walk during a four-game series in Cleveland with the Indians in April, but he was on the shelf during the Tribe’s last visit to Detroit.
The career of Victor Martinez continues to march towards its inevitable close, whether it be after this season or in the near future. The 39-year-old has remained healthy and in the lineup for the young Tigers, providing leadership and years of experience to the clubhouse. At the plate, he has not quite been what he used to be. In 56 games, he is hitting .242 with a .310 on-base percentage and a .353 slugging mark with nine doubles, four homers, and 23 RBI.
Nicholas Castellanos has been the Tigers’ top hitter all season (.331) and especially over the last month, when he has hit .343 in 26 games with a team-leading eleven doubles. He has also added three homers and ten RBI in that span, but do not expect walks from the Detroit right fielder – he has drawn just one walk in his last 111 plate appearances and 12 on the year in 264 trips to the plate.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
The Tigers’ leading home run man has been youngster Jeimer Candelario with nine. By comparison, the Indians have five different players (Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso, and Michael Brantley) who have turned in totals in double digits this season already in the long ball department.
Encarnacion’s eleven-game hitting streak came to an end on Wednesday when he went 0-for-3 at the plate against the Milwaukee Brewers, but with a walk, he extended his on-base streak to 13 straight (dating back to Houston’s trip to Cleveland on May 24). During the last two weeks of games, Encarnacion has put up a .367/.436/.816 line at the plate with a 1.253 OPS, hitting four doubles and six homers while driving in 15.
Brantley has been the club’s top hitter over the last 30 days, hitting .327. The long ball has returned to his game after a pronounced absence as he has seven in that span and is the team’s leader in RBI with 22. For the year, Brantley has been one of the top hitters in the American League and is hitting .325 through 50 games with 13 doubles, ten homers, and 39 RBI.
Ramirez is the team leader in homers with 19 and RBI with 43. Lindor leads the club with 20 doubles. Both have pulled within striking distance of the .300 mark in batting, with the left side duo hitting .298 and .296, respectively.
BACK TO CHICAGO
With their weekend in Motown complete, the Indians will head west to Chicago, where they will play the White Sox in four straight from Monday to Thursday to complete their seven-game road trip. The Tigers will take Monday off before hosting the third-place Twins in three straight before an eight-game roadie that includes a weekend layover in Cleveland two weekends from now.
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