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Indians Indians Archive Hated Yankees Come To Town
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

tex is_a_doucheIf you thought that Indians home games have been insufferable for the last couple of months, just wait until hoards of Yankee fans invade Progressive Field this weekend. The Indians will open up a weekend series against the New York Yankees on Friday as the best team money can buy will be on display. The two teams are in two very different places as the Evil Empire is 20 games over .500 while the Indians, losers of eight straight, are 16 games below the break even mark. The Yankees lead the American League in run differential, while the Indians are dead last in the AL.

The Yankees and the Rangers stand atop the offensive mountain as the only two clubs in baseball to be above 600 runs scored. That isn’t a promising stat as Indians pitchers have given up the second-most runs in all of MLB and their team ERA since the All-Star break is 5.57. The starters are even worse at 6.47. Indians starters are 7-23 with a 1.62 WHIP since the break. Opposing hitters are batting .299 with an OPS of .869.

The Yankees come in losers of three straight, having been swept by the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City this week. We’ll see if the Indians are the cure for their ills as the two teams do battle this weekend in Cleveland. Here are the pitching matchups.

kluberFriday August 24, 7:05 p.m. ET; CC Sabathia (12-3, 3.56) v. Corey Kluber (0-2, 6.27)

CC Sabathia will make his return from the disabled list in the ballpark he called home from 2001 to mid-2008. The portly southpaw has been on the DL since August 9 with left elbow soreness. Sabathia made no rehab starts during his brief DL stint. He’s having another CC year. He’s 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA and three times as many strikeouts as walks. The $23M man has a 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio against left handed batters this season.

Corey Kluber might want to start his outing in the second inning. It’s been a rough start to Kluber’s first season as a starting pitcher at the Major League level. In his four starts, he has a 22.50 ERA in the first inning and a 1.580 OPS against. In Kluber’s other 14.2 innings, he’s allowed seven runs. Kluber is still looking for his first Major League win and a victory over the hated pinstripes and Sabathia would make for a good story.

Sabathia has faced the Tribe five times since leaving the wigwam in the July 2008 trade that sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Rob Bryson, and Zach Jackson. In those five outings, he’s 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA. Corey Kluber has never faced the Yankees.

masterson01Saturday August 25, 7:05 p.m. ET; Hiroki Kuroda (12-8, 2.96) v. Justin Masterson (9-11, 4.73)

Hiroki Kuroda has thrived in the bright lights of New York City, having another terrific season. In his first year in the American League, Kuroda has not been fazed at all, throwing quality starts in 17 of his 25 outings. One of the biggest keys to Kuroda’s success has been his control, walking just 38 batters in 167 innings. The Japanese import has been one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball since his first season in the bigs in 2008. He’s now 53-54 in his 140 games, but his ERA is just 3.36 and his 1.17 WHIP ranks eighth among active pitchers with at least 100 decisions.

Justin Masterson has won 50% of the Indians wins since July 26. That’s not all that impressive of a stat as the Indians have won just four times in their last 25 games. Masterson’s season has been a microcosm of the Tribe’s season as a whole – momentary flashes of brilliance surrounded by a lot of frustration and failure. When Masterson’s been good, he’s been good and when he’s been bad, he’s been really bad. In Masterson’s nine wins, he has an ERA of 1.13, a 2.85 K/BB ratio, and a 1.03 WHIP. In Masterson’s 11 losses, he has an 8.60 ERA, a 1.8 K/BB ratio, and a 1.8 WHIP. In six no decisions, he has a 4.58 ERA.

Kuroda faced the Indians earlier this season and beat them, holding them to one run over seven strong innings. Surprisingly, Kuroda has been much worse on the road than in Yankee Stadium’s hitter-friendly environment. On the road, Kuroda has a 4.23 ERA in 10 starts. At home, in 15 starts, he has a 2.22. Masterson is 2-3 with a 3.31 ERA in nine appearances, five starts, against the Yankees. Masterson has been far better at home than on the road with a 3.27 ERA at Progressive Field.

jimenezhoustonSunday August 26, 1:05 p.m. ET; Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.96) v. Ubaldo Jimenez (9-12, 5.59)

With prized offseason acquisition Michael Pineda out for nearly all of the 2012 season and an injury to Andy Pettitte, Freddy Garcia was thrust into the Yankees starting rotation. The 14-year veteran has really struggled as a starter after having some success in relief. In 14 starts, Garcia is 5-5 with a 5.78 ERA. In 10 relief appearances, he was 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA. Garcia was taken out of the rotation after a horrible April where he hung a 12.51 ERA in four starts. He went back into the rotation in July.

Ubaldo Jimenez continues to be the enigmatic starter that we’ve all come to hate. Jimenez will show periods of dominance at times and then give up an untimely home run or lose his command and suddenly give up a boatload of runs. Over his last eight starts, his strikeout totals have improved and his walk totals have gone down. Yet, he’s still throwing too many pitches over the middle of the plate, as evidenced by his 1-5 record, 8.27 ERA, and 56 hits allowed in 41.1 innings of work.

Garcia has faced the Indians 23 times in his career, 20 of them starts, most of them coming in his days with the Chicago White Sox. In those 23 appearances, Garcia is 8-6 with a 3.83 ERA. Jimenez has faced the Yankees twice and given up six runs in 13 innings. He, like Masterson, has a staggering home/road split this season. In 10 home starts, he has a 3.39. In 15 road starts, he has a 7.34 ERA.


Keys to the Series:

1. Don’t Get Embarrassed at Home – It’s bad enough that the ballpark will be filled with bandwagon fans with some absurdly ridiculous story about how their Uncle Tony grew up in Brooklyn so they’re a Yankees fan. What will make it worse is if the Indians go out there and get their brains beaten in. The way things are going, this scenario seems far too likely for comfort.

2. Relax and Play the Game – Manny Acta told his team that “they’ve never released 25 players all at once; if anyone is going to go, it’ll be me”. We don’t know if that was a thinly-veiled request or not, but Acta’s right. The Indians, still a pretty young team, have let things snowball way too many times this season. The pressure they’re putting on themselves is unnecessary. The season has been over for a while.

3. Something to Build On – Play well in this series and finish the year strong. The hellish month of August only has eight games left in it. The Indians have been outscored by 60 runs in 23 games.


Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera, who the Indians signed to a two-year extension on April 4, had a nice first half, batting .286/.364/.467/.832 in 76 games. In 38 games in the second half, Cabrera has batted .265/.292/.361/.653. He's looked extremely frustrated and has not been selective at the plate. He hasn't really shown leadership qualities when the chips have been down, and that's a concern because this is not a team full of leaders.


Wishful Thinking:

Anyone dressed in Yankees apparel will be denied entrance at the gate.


Central Focus:

The White Sox host the white hot Mariners, the Tigers entertain the Angels, the Royals play at Fenway, and the Twins travel to Arlington to battle the Rangers.


One Last Thing...:

What a difference a month makes. On Sunday, it will be one month since the Indians had that amazing comeback win against Justin Verlander. With two games pending, the Indians have gone 4-21 since. I can’t think of a sharper fall from contention in my lifetime. It’s just mind-boggling. And depressing. Very, very depressing.

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