After a quick road trip through Detroit and Minneapolis, the Cleveland Indians return home this weekend for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians (59-48) finally figured out the Minnesota Twins over the weekend, taking each of the final two games of the series to pull a little closer on the season series against their toughest division rival to date. The Tribe moved to 9-6 since the break after their 4-2 trip and continued their better play on the road in July, winning eight of their last ten away from home. They own a ten-game lead in the American League Central Division over the Twins as the division may have conceded with the pile of trade deadline moves that came from within throughout July.
The Angels (54-56) started off the season strong, but injuries have knocked the club all the way back to fourth place in the American League West, 15 games behind front-running Houston. It led to the team making a few minor moves at the trade deadline, sending catcher Martin Maldonado to Houston and second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Boston Red Sox. LA is coming off of a three-game sweep in Tampa against the Rays to begin their six-game road trip. They have won just one series since the All-Star break, when they took two of three from the Seattle Mariners last weekend. They are 5-8 in that span and have followed a four-game winning streak with their active four-game losing skid.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Friday, August 3, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Jaime Barria (6-7, 3.74 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (7-7, 3.43)
Barria, a participant in last season’s Futures Game, is in his first season in the Majors with the Angels. The 22-year-old right-hander has made 15 starts in his debut campaign, posting a 1.19 WHIP. He has allowed 14 long balls over 77 innings. He has recorded better numbers on the road (3-3, 3.19 ERA in six starts) than he has at home (3-4, 4.11 ERA in nine starts). He is coming off of his toughest month of the year, going 1-3 in four July starts with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP with just ten strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. He did give the Angels his first quality start in nearly two months his last time out, as he earned his first win since June 1 with six innings of two-run baseball. Both runs scored by the Mariners in that start came via the long ball.
Clevinger, 27, will get his second look of the season at his former club after firing five and one-third scoreless innings in his season debut on April 2. He was a fourth round pick by the Halos in the 2011 draft, but was traded to Cleveland in 2014 for reliever Vinnie Pestano. His numbers this season have been right in line with his numbers from a season ago, when he made 21 starts and six trips in from the bullpen and posted a 3.11 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He has been able to cut back on the walks this season, which took a little something off of his strikeout totals as he is averaging just a hair under a strikeout per inning pitched. He pitched through illness his last time out in Detroit, working five innings of two-run baseball in a loss.
Saturday, August 4, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Felix Pena (1-2, 5.23) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (13-6, 2.79)
Pena, a third-year right-hander, is in his first season with the Angels after spending parts of the last two years in the bullpen of the Chicago Cubs. The 28-year-old has made seven starts and a pair of relief appearances this season, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP with 35 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings of work. He has been working in the Angels rotation since mid-June, but is coming off of his worst start of his career after allowing seven runs on six hits with two walks in just one-third of an inning against the Seattle Mariners on July 29. He has not earned a win in over a month, despite pitching effectively overall up until that last start.
The Tribe’s ace Kluber looked a little bit more like himself in his last start in Detroit on July 29. He got back into the win column with a seven and one-third inning performance against the Tigers, allowing a run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts to end a three-game winless skid. Kluber faced the Angels earlier in the year, taking a no-decision against them despite a quality showing, allowing two runs on three hits with six strikeouts and a pair of walks in seven innings. He has been better at home this season (7-3, 2.24 ERA, 0.93 WHIP in 12 starts) than on the road (6-3, 3.48 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in 10 starts).
Sunday, August 5, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Tyler Skaggs (8-7, 3.34) vs. RHP Shane Bieber (5-2, 4.73)
Skaggs, 27, missed a week early in July with a right adducter strain. After rejoining the rotation, he has traded off wins and losses in the four outings since. In his first three outings back, he threw three straight quality starts, but he was rocked his last time out on July 31 in Tampa, when he was charged with ten runs (all earned) on eight hits with three walks and a hit batter in three and one-third innings for his seventh loss of the year. He faced the Indians in his second start of the season on April 4, taking a no-decision after allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings of work.
Bieber, the 23-year-old rookie right-hander, will go for his sixth win of the year on Sunday in the season finale against the Angels. He rebounded from the worst start of his career against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 24 (seven runs on seven hits in an inning and two-thirds) with a much better quality outing his last time out on July 30 in Minnesota in his third start of the season against the Twins in nine overall starts. He worked six and one-third innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts. It closed out a five-start month of July with a 2-2 record with a 7.00 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. It came fresh off of a good month of June, when in three starts he went 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (8/3, 8/5); Fox Sports West (8/3, 8/5); FS1 (8/4); TBS (8/5 – out-of-market)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); KLAA 830 (LAA)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Greg Allen (OF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (8/1)
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Conner Capel (OF) – traded to St. Louis Cardinals (7/31)
Willi Castro (SS) – traded to Detroit Tigers (7/31)
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – 60-day disabled list (7/3) – strained left calf
Kyle Dowdy (P) – acquired from Detroit Tigers (7/31)
Johnny Field (OF) – claimed off of waivers by Minnesota Twins (8/3)
Nick Goody (RP) – 60-day disabled list (5/3) – right elbow inflammation
Evan Marshall (RP) – 10-day disabled list (6/19) – right elbow inflammation; on rehab assignment
Leonys Martin (OF) – acquired from Detroit Tigers (7/31), activated (8/1)
Zach McAllister (RP) – designated for assignment (8/3)
Oscar Mercado (OF) – acquired from St. Louis Cardinals (7/31)
Andrew Miller (RP) – activated from 60-day disabled list (8/3)
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (7/26) – recovery from August 2018 right hip surgery
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; on rehab assignment
Jhon Torres (OF) – traded to St. Louis Cardinals (7/31)
Bradley Zimmer (OF) – out for season (7/21) – right shoulder labrum surgery
Los Angeles (AL):
Ty Buttrey (P) – acquired from Boston (7/31)
Kaleb Cowart (SS) – recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake (7/31)
Zack Cozart (3B) – 60-day disabled list (6/15) – recovery from June 2018 left shoulder surgery
Williams Jerez (P) – acquired from Boston (7/31)
Jake Jewell (P) – 60-day disabled list (6/28) – recovery from June 2018 right ankle surgery
Ian Kinsler (2B) – traded to Boston with cash (7/31)
John Lamb (P) – 60-day disabled list (6/27) – left shoulder and elbow inflammation; will need Tommy John surgery
Alex Meyer (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/21) – recovery from September 2017 right shoulder surgery
Keynan Middleton (RP) – 60-day disabled list (5/14) – UCL damage in right elbow
J.C. Ramirez (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/8) – recovery from April 2018 TJ surgery
Garrett Richards (SP) – 60-day disabled list (7/11) – right elbow UCL damage; will need Tommy John
Rene Rivera (C) – 60-day disabled list (5/17) – recovery from May 2018 right knee surgery
Matt Shoemaker (P) – 60-day disabled list (4/3) – recovery from May 2018 right forearm surgery
Mike Trout (CF) – day-to-day – right wrist contusion and inflammation (8/1)
Blake Wood (RP) – 60-day disabled list (4/23) – recovery from May 2018 Tommy John surgery
Chris Young (OF) – 10-day disabled list (7/4) – left hamstring strain
HALOS NEWS AND NOTES
Trout will be held out of Friday’s game, at least from starting it, as he continues to deal with right wrist soreness. He injured the wrist on a first inning slide on an attempted steal of third base on Wednesday. He did not play on Thursday, marking just the second time that he had been out of the Angels lineup this season. The 26-year-old is right at the top of the AL MVP race with another solid year at the plate, hitting .309 with a .459 on-base percentage and a .624 slugging mark with a 1.083 OPS for the season. He is among the game’s leaders in home runs with 30 and he has driven in 60 runs while stealing 21 bases.
Kole Calhoun heated up in the month of July for the Angels, giving them another big thumper in the lineup. He put up a .322/.378/.759 slash at the plate with eight doubles, an AL-high ten homers, and 25 RBI.
Twenty-four-year-old pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani has not pitched since early June and spent a month on the disabled list while dealing with a right UCL sprain. Since returning, he has worked for the Angels at DH and has appeared in 23 games, hitting just .200 with five doubles, three homers, and five RBI in that span. In 57 games in total as a hitter this season, he is slashing .257/.332/.492 with 13 doubles, one triple, nine homers, and 25 RBI. His AL Rookie of the Year chase has cooled with the injury.
Albert Pujols enters the weekend with an eight-game hitting streak active. He has tallied 12 hits in that span, including a homer, and provided the club with a .343 average and a .543 slugging mark in those games.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
The Indians come into the weekend set with the Angels with 150 homers on the year, one ahead of the Angels. They were the top scoring club in all of baseball in July with 153 runs scored. They led the Majors with a .284 batting average, an .835 OPS, and 26 stolen bases, and were second in homers with 36.
Jose Ramirez was one of the best bats in the game in July, which earned him a well-deserved selection as the American League’s Player of the Month. He tallied hits in 15 of his 25 games played and replicated that feat in the walk category. He had 12 different multi-hit games, doing so in four straight games once, three straight games another time, and two in a row to open and close the month. During that 25-game span, he put up a .322/.441/.722 at the plate with a 1.164 OPS. He has hit .350 over the last week with a .500 OBP.
Melky Cabrera has remained productive in his return to the Indians roster. The 33-year-old switch-hitter has hit .351 with a .385 on-base percentage with two doubles and a homer in his eleven games back. He hit in seven straight games and had a three-hit game during the road trip in Detroit that included his first homer as an Indian. He is tied for the team lead in hits in the second half with 13.
Yonder Alonso is the team’s leader in the second half in homers with five. He is tied for the team’s lead in that span in RBI with eleven, joined by fellow first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion is tied for the team lead in hits in the second half with 13, joined by Cabrera and Francisco Lindor. Lindor is second on the club in runs scored with seven since the break and stolen bases with three and is the leader in doubles with four.
The Tribe will continue their seven-game homestand on Monday as the Minnesota Twins come to town for four straight. The Angels will head home immediately following the game to start a six-game homestand, with the Detroit Tigers the first enemy combatant on Monday night.
Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images