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Indians Indians Archive Tribe Travels to Motown for Three-Game Series
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

carmona headlockThe Indians have 12 chances to play spoiler in the AL Central and their chances start on Labor Day when they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. This trip to Detroit kicks off a nine-game, 10-day, three city road trip for the Indians, which isn’t a very comforting thought. The Indians have lost 17 of their last 18 on the road.

The Detroit Tigers are right in the hunt in the AL Central Division and within range of the wild card race. Since scaring everybody over the first two months of the season, the Tigers are 47-34 since the start of June. That’s the team everybody expected them to be after they went out and bought Prince Fielder this past offseason.

The Indians may be walking into a buzzsaw. The Tigers are 15 games over .500 at home and are averaging nearly five runs per game. With the way that the Indians are playing, and more importantly, the way that the Indians are pitching, the Tigers have to be licking their chops. They enter the series with momentum, having swept Chicago to pull into a tie atop the AL Central.

It doesn’t look good for the Indians in this series. Here are the pitching matchups:

kluberMonday September 3, 1:05 p.m. ET; Corey Kluber (0-3, 5.16) v. Anibal Sanchez (7-11, 4.24)

Corey Kluber heads to the hill for his seventh career start. Kluber really hasn’t fared very well this season, especially early in the game. Kluber has allowed 17 runs over the first three innings in his six starts and putting an offensively-challenged team like the Indians behind early is never a good thing. Not only has Kluber had trouble the first time through the lineup, the opposition is still hitting .292 the second time through.

Anibal Sanchez has had trouble changing leagues. In 19 starts with the Miami Marlins, he had a 3.94 ERA. In six starts with the Tigers, his ERA is 5.29 and opposing hitters are batting .329 off of him. Over his last two starts, though, he seems to be settling in, posting a 1.32 ERA over 13.2 innings of work.

Kluber will be facing the Tigers for the first time in a starting role. He pitched against them in relief last season, allowing four runs in two innings. He has a 5.79 ERA in two road starts. Sanchez has already faced the Indians twice this season, once with Detroit and once with Miami. He is 1-1, but has allowed just 3 earned runs in 13 innings.

masterson01Tuesday September 4, 7:05 p.m. ET; Justin Masterson (10-12, 4.91) v. Rick Porcello (9-10, 4.57)

Justin Masterson’s lone win over the Tigers came when he outdueled Justin Verlander on a getaway day in May. Other than that, Masterson has really struggled. Over Masterson’s last seven starts, he’s allowed seven or more runs four times, including once to the Tigers on August 3 in Detroit. It hasn’t been a good year for Masterson who has been victimized by a lack of control, too many hits, and too many home runs.

Rick Porcello continues to be an enigma for the Tigers. The 2007 first round pick has never fully put it together like the Tigers were wishing. This season, opposing hitters are batting .313 against Porcello, with 194 hits in 151.2 innings of work. Porcello has lost his four starts, giving up 11 runs in 23 innings.

Masterson is 1-5 in 12 appearances, nine starts, against the Tigers with a 5.43 ERA. On the road this season, he’s been awful, with an ERA of 6.48 over 13 starts. In his last road start, he was tagged for seven runs by the Oakland A’s. Porcello has very similar home/road splits this season, with a 4.50 ERA at home. Against the Indians in his career, he has a 5-2 record and a 4.06 ERA.

jimenezhoustonWednesday September 5, 7:05 p.m. ET; Ubaldo Jimenez (9-14, 5.61) v. Doug Fister (7-8, 3.67)

Ubaldo Jimenez has been awful for the last 10 games. In 10 starts since the All-Star break, Jimenez has allowed 72 hits in 52 innings, along with 45 runs. That would be a 7.79 ERA and a .329 opponents’ batting average. He has losses in eight of his last 12 starts.

Doug Fister has struggled of late, allowing 14 runs in his last 16.2 innings of work. The Tigers skipped his turn in the rotation after his August 19 start against Baltimore where he allowed seven runs. Fister has made just 20 starts this year because of two different stints on the disabled list.

Jimenez, at one time, was a Tiger killer this season. He had thrown 18.2 innings against them and had allowed four runs. He was touched up for six runs in 5.1 innings of work in his last start. Jimenez has been positively awful on the road, with a 7.34 ERA over 79.2 innings. Fister threw a complete game five-hitter against the Tribe the last time he faced them, which is in line with his 2.33 career ERA against them in his 11 starts.

Keys to the Series:

1. Play Free and Easy – All of the pressure here is on the Tigers. After winning the series against the White Sox, the expectation is that the Indians will be a walk in the park. The Indians need to just show up and play without reservation.

2. Relish the Role of Spoiler – If the Indians hate the Tigers as much as I do, they’ll want to win all six remaining games against them to hopefully help keep them out of the playoffs. That’s all the Indians have left to play for.

3. Start Leaving an Impression – The Indians will be playing a lot of guys in September who have a chance to be a part of the 2013 ballclub depending on what happens this offseason. Playing well the rest of the way would be a good start to getting a leg up on your competition.

Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Michael Brantley. It will be a nice test to see how Brantley does in the spacious center field in Comerica Park with some guys on the mound who are sure to give him a workout. Furthermore, in 42 at bats against the Tigers this season, Brantley has a .381/.435/.595/1.030 slash line.

Wishful Thinking:

I hate these guys. Win two of three.

Central Focus:

The White Sox will attempt to lick their wounds against Minnesota while the host Royals entertain the Rangers.

One Last Thing...:

Hey, at least we avoid the potential of Justin Verlander throwing a no hitter against us.

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