The Ohio Cup will kick off this week as the Cleveland Indians host the Cincinnati Reds for three games beginning Monday night from Progressive Field.
The Indians (49-39) had few answers for the Oakland A’s for the second straight weekend, winning one game by a big result while dropping the other pair to lose the season series to the Athletics, four games to two. The Tribe started July with five straight wins before dropping the final two games of their set with the A’s this weekend and have outscored the opposition by a 46-28 tally. They have posted winning records in each calendar month of the season and are 7-4 in interleague play so far this season against the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals.
The Reds (39-51) have turned the volume up over the course of the last couple of months after parting ways with manager Bryan Price. He started the year 3-15, but his replacement, Jim Riggleman, has gotten productive play from his young club while leading them to a 36-36 record. The Reds lost their first series over the weekend since June 15-17, suffering a walk-off walk in ten innings on Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. Cincinnati put up a 15-11 month of June and has opened July with a 4-3 record. They are 8-2 in interleague play this season against the White Sox, Tigers, Royals, and Twins.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
DeSclafani is six starts into his 2018 campaign after missing nearly all of 2017 with a right elbow injury. He suffered the dreaded ulnar collateral ligament injury, but was able to avoid Tommy John surgery. He made his season debut on June 5 and took a loss before winning three straight outings. He had his worst start of the season his last time out on July 3 against the White Sox, when he allowed five runs on six hits in five and one-third innings. Three times in that start the ball left the yard as he took the no-decision in a 12-8 Reds’ loss. It will be his third career start against the Indians after going 0-1 in two starts against them in 2015.
The 27-year-old Clevinger has put up an All-Star worthy first half, earning seven wins with a solid 3.11 ERA. Facing the Reds likely brings back some memories for the righty, who kicked off his Major League career with a start in Cincinnati on May 18, 2016, while taking a no-decision. Sunshine got back into the win column in his last start, throwing a quality start for the fourth time in five starts after allowing three runs on eight hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts in six innings in a 15-3 win over Oakland on July 1. Monday will mark just his second career outing against the Reds.
Romano, 24, is in his second season in the Majors with the Reds after debuting last April. It will be his 19th start of the season on Tuesday and his first career outing against the Tribe. The Reds have kept a watchful eye on his pitch count, just twice crossing the century mark this year. Just five times in 18 starts this season has he finished the sixth inning. His last time out, he earned a win over the White Sox on July 4, allowing four runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
Bauer will get the nod on Tuesday in his second-to-last start of the first half. Named to the All-Star team on Sunday for the first time in his career, he will set his sights on win number nine while trying to keep streaks of six straight quality starts and eight consecutive games with eight strikeouts or more alive. His last time out, he allowed just two runs on seven hits in seven and two-thirds innings to knock off the Kansas City Royals. He is 1-2 in four career starts against the Reds with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.
Mahle, a 23-year-old second-year starter, was a seventh round pick by the Reds out of high school in 2013. He has not taken a loss since May 20 against the Cubs and has put up impressive numbers since. In his seven starts since the beginning of June, he has gone 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .238 average. Twelve of his 16 homers allowed this year have been hit by left-handers, which could come into play against the lefty and switch-hitting happy lineup that the Tribe sends out. It will be his first career start against Cleveland.
Carrasco returned from the disabled list with a short, but effective, outing on July 6. Against the A’s, he lasted five and one-third innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. He had missed three weeks of action on the disabled list after being struck by a line drive in the second inning of his June 16 start against the Twins. It will mark his sixth career game against the Reds and his fifth start; he is 2-0 with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP against them in 28 1/3 innings.
TV (all): Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports Ohio (Cincinnati)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (Cleveland); WLW 700 (Cincinnati)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – 10-day disabled list (7/3) – strained left calf
Nick Goody (RP) – transferred to 60-day disabled list (5/31) – right elbow inflammation (since 5/3)
Evan Marshall (RP) – 10-day disabled list (6/19) – right elbow inflammation
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 Olson (RP) – 10-day disabled list (6/17) – left latissimus dorsi strain
Danny Salazar (P) – out for season (3/26) – recovery from right shoulder exploratory surgery
Homer Bailey (SP) – 10-day disabled list (6/2) – right knee inflammation
Rookie Davis (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/2) – recovery from October 2017 right hip surgery; on rehab assignment
Dilson Herrera (2B) – contract selected from Triple-A Louisville (7/6)
The Reds, despite being in last place in the National League Central, had three All-Stars selected on Sunday.
Joey Votto was named to his sixth NL All-Star team in a well-deserved selection at the first base position, joining starter Freddie Freeman and backup Paul Goldschmidt. Votto, as usual, is leading the pack in on-base percentage (.425) with his usual high number of walks. In 89 games this season, the former 2010 NL MVP has put up a .292/.425/.437 slash at the plate with 18 doubles, two triples, eight homers, and 44 RBI while drawing more walks (68) than strikeouts (60). He has led either the NL or all of the Majors in on-base percentage six different times in his career. He was the runner-up in the MVP voting last season.
Eugenio Suarez, 26, was selected to his first All-Star team on Sunday. In his fourth season with the Reds and fifth big league season overall, the Venezuelan product and one-time member of the Detroit Tigers has put up numbers even more impressive than those of the last two seasons when he burst on the scene as a regular in the Reds lineup. Through 73 games this season, he has provided a .315/.405/.590 slash at the plate with 14 doubles, two triples, a team-leading 19 homers, and a league-leading 68 RBI. His offensive WAR (3.6) is highest in the NL.
Scooter Gennett has been one of the better surprises around baseball over the last season and a half. Claimed just days before the start of the 2017 season off of waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, Gennett has stepped into permanent duty at second base for the Reds, his hometown club. He broke out with a big season a year ago, hitting .295 with a .531 slugging mark thanks to 22 doubles and 27 homers. He was one of the league leaders in RBI with 97, 41 more than his previous career best. This year, he is the NL’s top hitter with a .326 mark, backed by 20 doubles, 14 homers, and 58 RBI. It will be his first career All-Star trip.
The Tribe’s smooth handling of the American League Central has earned the team five All-Stars for this month’s exhibition at Nationals Park.
Jose Ramirez was voted the starting third baseman for the AL squad for the second straight season through the fan voting. Ramirez is near the top of the AL in a handful of offensive categories this season, putting up a .292/.395/.590 slash at the plate with 25 doubles, 24 homers, and 59 RBI this season. His 50 extra base hits this season are second in the league.
Francisco Lindor will come off of the bench for AL manager A.J. Hinch. The shortstop was selected to his third straight All-Star team with a solid first half performance this season. He becomes just the third shortstop in club history to make three straight All-Star teams, joining Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau. He is the leading scorer in all of baseball, touching home safely 79 times in his 87 games. He is second on the club with a .298 average this season and has added a .374 on-base percentage and a .565 slugging mark thanks to his 27 doubles and 23 homers. He is tied with Ramirez in extra base hits this year.
Michael Brantley makes his third career All-Star team and his second straight. Thought to be on the cusp of a selection due to a crowded outfield and the need for every team to have a selection, Brantley instead earned a bench spot ahead of the Final Five vote and injury replacements. He has consistently lived above the .300 mark this season, posting a .306 average this season with a .351 OBP and a .490 slugging in his 77 games. He has 23 doubles, a triple, eleven homers, and 49 RBI on the campaign.
The Indians will send two-fifths of its well-deserving starting rotation to the contest as well, as Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer each get the nod. The 32-year-old Kluber is an All-Star for the third straight season and has used good control and the ability to pitch deep into games to post some solid numbers on the mound, going 12-4 with a 2.49 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 19 starts. His 126 1/3 innings are the most pitched in the AL this year and his 1.1 walk per nine rate is best in the game. Bauer was a replacement for Justin Verlander, who is scheduled to pitch in the first half finale on Sunday. The 27-year-old right-hander has been a strikeout machine this season, hovering among the AL’s leaders this season with 156 in 121 1/3 innings. He is 8-6 on the year with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, posting the best FIP (2.17) and homer rate (0.4) in all of baseball.
FIRST HALF WRAP UP
With one series left before the All-Star break, the Indians will welcome in the New York Yankees for a four-game series beginning Thursday night, the Bombers’ first trip to Cleveland since last season’s American League Division Series.
The Reds will wrap up the first half with the final stop of their three-city Midwest road trip as they head to St. Louis for three games with the Cardinals beginning Friday night.
The two clubs will resume the Battle for Ohio in the middle of August, when the Tribe reports to the Queen City for three games from August 13-15.
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images