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Indians Indians Archive Rangers In Town for Labor Day Weekend Series
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

indians rangersMercifully, Friday night marks the final game in the month of August for the Tribe as the Texas Rangers come to town. It’s easily been one of the worst months in franchise history, as it started in the midst of a 11-game, featured a nine-game losing streak of its own, and put the Indians 21 games under .500. Here’s a tale of the tape about how bad August has been for the Indians:

Record: 5-23 (one game pending)

Entered month seven games out of first; now 17.5 back

Runs scored: 93; 3.32 per game

Runs allowed: 174; 6.21 per game

Team batting: .233/.291/.353/.644; 218 hits, 202 strikeouts

Team pitching: 5-23, 5.55 ERA, 1.525 WHIP, 37 HR allowed

Starting pitching: 5-16, 6.24 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 28 HR allowed in 145.2 innings

Relief pitching: 0-7, 4.52 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 9 HR allowed in 97.2 innings

That’s not to say that September will be any better. It’s certainly hard to believe that this series against the Texas Rangers will be any better. The Rangers are still in first place in the NL West and have won nine of 12. After a rough 9-14 July, they’ve bounced back in August to go 18-10 with just Friday’s game left to go. The big difference has been their offense, which is batting .288 this month with an .810 OPS. That’s just what Tribe pitchers needed to see.

Speaking of pitchers, here are the pitching matchups for this weekend set:

jimenezhoustonFriday August 31, 7:05 p.m. ET; Ryan Dempster (3-1, 5.46) v. Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13, 5.58)

Ryan Dempster hasn’t fared overly well in his first five starts as an American Leaguer, giving up 22 runs in 31.1 innings of work. He was a trade deadline acquisition from the Cubs that was expected to be a major player in the Rangers rotation. Amazingly, Dempster’s been worse in his two road starts than his three home starts. Dempster has held left handed batters to a .216 batting average and .629 OPS this season.

Ubaldo Jimenez. What more can be said about this guy. Since the All-Star break, Jimenez has bumped his ERA from 4.50 to 5.58 and has given up nine home runs in nine starts. In that span, he’s 1-6 with a 7.93 ERA. On a team with little pitching talent at the Major League or high minor league levels, it has to be considered that Jimenez is pitching so badly that the Indians may not even pick up his 2013 option.

Dempster has faced the Indians three times in his career and is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA. Of current Indians, however, Dempster has only faced Casey Kotchman and injured Travis Hafner. Jimenez is 1-0 in two starts with a 3.75 ERA against the Rangers. He’s also been a much better pitcher at home, with a 3.54 ERA at Progressive Field compared to a 7.34 away from it.

carmona gloveSaturday September 1, 7:05 p.m. ET; Scott Feldman (6-10, 4.95) v. Roberto Hernandez (0-3, 7.53)

Scott Feldman has served as an innings eater for the Rangers this season. He’s made 17 starts over 23 appearances and hasn’t pitched all that well. He’s given up 114 hits in 100 innings and 64 runs. The 6’7” righty had two promising starts to end the month of July holding the Red Sox and White Sox to just one run over 15 innings, but hasn’t fared as well in August with a 5.40 ERA.

Roberto Hernandez left his last start with a mild right ankle sprain, so it remains to be seen if he will actually make this scheduled start. With rosters expanding, it’s no guarantee that Chris Seddon would get a spot start if Hernandez cannot go. If Hernandez can go, he’ll be looking for his first win with his real name. He gave up three runs in 2.1 innings in his last start before the ankle injury sidelined him. With that performance, he’s now allowed 15 runs in 14.1 innings this season.

Feldman has faced the Indians 10 times in his career, but only three have been starts. He’s pitched well against them in 31 innings with a 3.48 ERA. Lefties are batting 17 points lower than righties against Feldman in his career at .268. He’s been brutal on the road with a 6.21 ERA in 42 innings this season. Hernandez will face Texas for the 13th time in his career and the numbers aren’t good. In 67 innings, he’s 2-8 with a 5.37 ERA.

mcallister bostonSunday September 2, 1:05 p.m. ET; Derek Holland (9-6, 4.90) v. Zach McAllister (5-5, 3.82)

Newark, OH native Derek Holland gets another shot at the Tribe and he has had tremendous success against them in his career. Holland was being counted on to be a strong part of the Rangers rotation after posting a 16-5 record with a 3.95 ERA last season, but has struggled this season, allowing 24 home runs in 134 innings. He allowed just 22 in 198 innings last season.

Zach McAllister’s last start was a strange one. He had eight strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work, but also gave up nine hits and five runs against Oakland. McAllister, who was so consistent early in the season, has bounced back and forth between good starts and bad starts all month and seems to be going through some growing pains. Too many pitches were over the middle of the plate against Oakland and a far more talented lineup like Texas’s will make him pay even more if that happens again.

Holland, as mentioned above, owns the Tribe. In four starts against them, he’s 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA. One of those starts was a complete game shutout last season in front of his friends and family in Cleveland on June 4. McAllister has never faced the Rangers in his young career of 20 starts. It will be a good test for him.

Keys to the Series:

1. Don’t Fall Behind – If the Indians don’t want to get swept, they can’t fall behind in every game. The Rangers’ bullpen is lights out and their offense never stops adding on. If the starters are as bad in this series as they have been all season long, the Indians will be staring at an eight-game losing streak.

2. Who Are These F’in Guys?! – With roster expansion coming on Saturday, the Indians absolutely have to infuse some new blood into the lineup. This team has gotten stale and a lot of guys aren’t putting forth max effort. Or even 50% effort. With some minor league call-ups and guys looking to make an impression, that could make things a lot more fun to watch over these last 31 games.

3. One Last Hurrah – Outside of the Tigers series in mid-September which will be filled with 80% Tiger fans if they’re still in the hunt, this is probably it for the Indians as far as attendance goes. The Rangers are always a big draw with a lot of big name talent. It’s Labor Day weekend, fireworks on Saturday night, and advance ticket sales were likely pretty good for this series. The Ohio State Buckeyes start their season on Saturday afternoon and the NFL regular season starts next Sunday so the Indians take even more of a backseat from this point forward.

Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Ezequiel Carrera. He continues to swing a pretty good stick, batting .319, and he’s been able to drive the ball more than he did last season in his 68 games with the Tribe. He’s certainly not a viable starting option, but he would give the Indians a different dimension off the bench as a good pinch runner, a situational hitter, and a defensive replacement. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep this up.

Wishful Thinking:

Just don’t get swept.

Central Focus:

The White Sox have the chance to bury the Tigers with a series at Comerica this weekend, the third-place Royals take on Minnesota, who is just two games behind the Indians for last place.

One Last Thing...:

What’s amazing about the 2012 Cleveland Indians pitching staff is that they’ve been an equal opportunity s-show. Against teams below .500, the pitchers are 20-31 with a 4.99 ERA. Against teams above .500, the pitchers are 35-45 with a 4.73. We’re seeing one of the worst pitching staffs in Indians history playing for a team that has stressed building around pitching. No wonder they’re nowhere close to competing.

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