The second half of the Major League Baseball season will get underway on Friday night for the Cleveland Indians as they open up a brief three-game road trip in Texas against the Rangers.
The Indians (52-43) will start the second half of the season in the top spot in the American League Central Division as many would have expected when the season opened. They hold a seven and a half game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the division. Cleveland had a tough homestand to close out the first half of the schedule, losing back-to-back series against the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds before splitting a four-game set with the New York Yankees to finish with a 4-6 mark at Progressive Field in that stretch. The Indians have had a difficult time against the AL West this season, going 10-16, but they went 2-1 against the Rangers in a three-game series in Cleveland early in the campaign.
Things have not been too fun in the Rangers (41-56) clubhouse this season as the club is buried 22 games in back of Houston in the AL West, buried in the division’s cellar. The Rangers have struggled in July, winning just three games in 13 chances, and own a 19-28 record at home this season. They are playing their first home series since July 3-4, when they were swept by the Houston Astros, and they have not won a home contest at Globe Life Field since June 30 against the Chicago White Sox.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Bauer will get the rare opportunity to start back-to-back games for the Indians as he pitched the first half finale on Sunday afternoon and will pitch on regular rest on Friday after spending the All-Star break in Washington, D.C., with the American League team. The 27-year-old took a no-decision against the New York Yankees his last time out, allowing two runs in seven innings. His streak of nine straight starts with eight strikeouts or more came to an end in the contest. He has made five career starts against the Rangers, going 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He struck out eleven batters in six and two-thirds innings against them earlier this season.
Perez opened the season on the disabled list while still recovering from right elbow surgery in the offseason. By the end of April, the 27-year-old was back on the DL with right elbow discomfort and was ultimately shifted to the 60-day list. He has factored in all six of his starts this season, posting a 2.05 WHIP while walking 14 batters in 29 1/3 innings and giving up seven homers in that span. Just one of those starts has come since being activated from the DL – he worked seven innings of one-run baseball against Baltimore on Saturday. He has lost each of his last two starts against the Indians and is 0-2 with a 9.20 ERA and a 2.11 WHIP in four career appearances.
Carrasco’s last appearance came on Sunday in relief of Bauer, when he vultured his eleventh win of the campaign with a scoreless inning of work with two strikeouts in his first work out of the bullpen since 2014. In his last start on July 11, he earned a win in his second game off of the disabled list, allowing just a run on five hits in a blowout of Cincinnati. The Rangers have been a tough matchup for Carrasco in his career – he is 2-3 against them in nine games with a 6.64 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He has given up ten career home runs to Texas in 42 career innings, including four last season in nine innings of work.
The ageless wonder Colon will get another chance to face his original team on Saturday night. It will be career start number 15 for Colon against the Indians. He brings in a 7-5 record all-time in those starts with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. It will be the 20th start of the year for the 45-year-old right-hander as he looks for his first win of the month. He has lost each of his last two starts despite quality outings on the road against Detroit and Boston.
Clevinger, 27, will look to get back into the win column after losing each of his last two starts against Cincinnati and the New York Yankees. He has struck out 19 batters in his last 12 innings, but he has allowed ten runs (nine earned) in that span with three homers surrendered. He faced the Rangers earlier this season in Cleveland and took a no-decision despite working a quality six and two-thirds innings with three runs allowed on seven hits with seven strikeouts. He is still in search of his first career win against the Rangers in four games (two starts).
Gallardo, a 32-year-old right-hander out of Mexico, is on his third team in 2018. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason, bringing him back to his longtime home, but he was released late in spring and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He made just three relief appearances for the Reds before being designated for assignment and he would sign with the Rangers. He spent much of the season at Triple-A Round Rock before his contract was selected from the Express in mid-June. In five starts for Texas, he has posted a 3-1 record with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. His last start was his worst, as he took his first loss of the year on July 10 against Boston, giving up six runs on seven hits in five innings. He has faced the Indians twice in his career, losing last season and winning his first start against them in 2009.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Fox Sports SouthWest (all)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (Cleveland); 105.3 The Fan (Dallas)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Melky Cabrera (OF) – contract selected from Triple-A Columbus (7/20)
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – transferred to 60-day disabled list (7/20) – strained left calf
Adam Cimber (RP) – acquired in a trade from San Diego (7/19)
Yandy Diaz (UTL) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (7/20)
Nick Goody (RP) – transferred to 60-day disabled list (5/31) – right elbow inflammation (since 5/3)
Brad Hand (RP) – acquired in a trade from San Diego (7/19)
Evan Marshall (RP) – 10-day disabled list (6/19) – right elbow inflammation
Francisco Mejia (C/OF) – traded to San Diego Padres (7/19)
Ryan Merritt (P) – designated for assignment (7/13)
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/26) – right knee inflammation; on rehab assignment
Tyler Olson (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (7/20)
Danny Salazar (P) – out for season (3/26) – recovery from right shoulder exploratory surgery
Josh Tomlin (P) – 10-day disabled list (7/10) – right hamstring strain
Tony Barnette (P) – 60-day disabled list (7/4) – right shoulder strain
Clayton Blackburn (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/19) – recovery from April 2018 TJ surgery
Matt Bush (RP) – 60-day disabled list (6/14) – right elbow strain
Willie Calhoun (OF) – recalled from Triple-A Round Rock (7/20)
Jesse Chavez (P) – traded to Chicago Cubs (7/19)
Alex Claudio (RP) – 10-day disabled list (7/11) – left ankle sprain
Doug Fister (SP) – 60-day disabled list (6/9) – right knee strain
Ronald Herrera (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/21) – recovery from June 2018 tendon flexor surgery
Chris Martin (P) – 10-day disabled list (7/5) – left groin sprain
Nomar Mazara (OF) – placed on 10-day disabled list (7/20), right thumb sprain
Tyler Thomas (P) – acquired in trade from Chicago Cubs (7/19)
RANGERS NEWS AND NOTES
Former Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will be in the lineup and at the top of the Rangers batting order as he returns to Texas after his first career All-Star appearance earlier in the week. He has put together an impressive streak at the plate, reaching base safely in 51 consecutive games for Texas. He is the team’s leader in a handful of offensive categories, including all three elements of the triple slash (.293/.405/.506). He leads the Rangers in runs scored (54), hits (102), and walks (62). He is second on the club in doubles (20) and homers (18) and is fourth on the team with 43 RBI.
Delino DeShields comes into the series in a massive 0-for-28 drought at the plate. The speedy center fielder leads the team with 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts, but has hit just .208 this season with a .301 on-base percentage in 74 games.
Joey Gallo is the leading home run masher on the Rangers roster with 22 blasts in 93 games. His 51 RBI are second-most on the club. But despite the big power numbers, he has managed a miniscule .187 average and .296 OBP at the plate and has struck out 132 times in 365 plate appearances on the year.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
The All-Star Jose Ramirez ended the first half on fire, just as he has played for much of the season. He had a six-game hitting streak heading into the All-Star break, going 11-for-21 (.524) in that span with five homers and eleven RBI. He went into the break tied for the Major League lead in homers with 29 on the year and is not far off the pace in doubles with 26. He is second in the AL in RBI with 70 and pushed his season batting average to .302 with his big final week of the first half, one that earned him the AL’s Player of the Week nod for the first time this season. He has been the team’s leading hitter over the last 30 days, hitting .329 in that span with six doubles, seven homers, and 20 RBI.
His Cleveland and AL All-Star teammate Michael Brantley ended the first half with a five-game hitting streak of his own. He hit .368 (7-for-19) in that span with a homer and six runs batted in. It helped to keep his batting average at a healthy .308 mark for the year, the top figure on the club. He is third on the Tribe with 25 doubles and has added a triple and 12 homers while ranking fourth on the roster in RBI with 56.
Francisco Lindor has had a solid season worth noting, bringing a .291/.367/.562 slash into the second half after his third straight All-Star appearance. He is the MLB leader in runs scored with 85, the team’s leader in hits with 113 and doubles with 30, and is second on the team with 25 homers. His 62 RBI trail Edwin Encarnacion by three for second on the team in that category. In the last month, he has been an extra base machine, hitting .297 with seven doubles, nine homers, and 22 RBI, the latter two stats of which he leads the team. He has scored eleven more runs in that period than the next closest Indians player.
After spending the weekend in Texas, the Indians will return home to Cleveland to host the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game interleague matchup starting Monday night. The Rangers will stay home, hosting the Oakland Athletics the same night.
Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images