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Indians Indians Archive Indians vs. Angels Preview: Finally, the Tribe Returns Home
Written by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore

2012 07 angels previewAfter spending all but nine games on the road in the month of June, the Cleveland Indians finally are back at Progressive Field, opening up a seven-game homestand with a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels starting tonight.

The last time the Tribe and Angels met, Cleveland took two-of-three in late April. But since that time the teams have gone in different directions.

Following that series the Tribe was 11-9 and in first place in the American League Central, while the Angels finished the month of April at 8-15, nine games out of first place in the American League West.

Since then, the Tribe has pretty much treaded water, going 29-29 and currently sits in second place, 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox. As for the Angels, they have gone 36-20 since the start of May (a 103-win pace) but are still in second place, although they have shaved three games off the lead of first-place Texas.

The Tribe won the previous series because they shut down three of the Angels biggest offensive threats – Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols. During the series, the trio combined to go 4-for-31 (.129), with Trout making his major-league debut, going 1-for-11, Trumbo was 1-for-8 and Pujols was 2-for-12.

But since leaving Cleveland they have taken off. Trumbo has hit .348 with eight home runs and 32 RBI; Trumbo is at .313 on the season, with 20 home runs and 55 RBI; while Pujols, who hit .217 with no home runs, four RBI and an OPS of .570 in April, hit .326 in June with a .977 OPS. On the season, he has 12 home runs and 47 RBI.

In a quirk, the Indians will face the same three starting pitchers in this series as they did in April – Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana – and none of them are left-handed. On the season, the Tribe is hitting .271 with an OPS of .756 vs. right-handed pitchers, as opposed to .220 and .641 against left-handers.

In tonight’s series opener at 7:05, Ubaldo Jimenez takes on Weaver. Jimenez is 7-6 on the year, with a 4.69 ERA, but in the month of June went 2-2 with an ERA of 2.78. As for Weaver, he is 8-1 with a 2.31 ERA and lefties are only batting .169 against him this year. Against the Tribe in April, Weaver pitched six innings; give up no runs and striking out eight in a no decision.

Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. game matches Zach McCallister (2-1 with a 3.82 ERA) against Haren (6-7 with an ERA of 4.53) Haren is also tough on lefties, they are hitting .241 against him this year compared to .289 for righties. In his April start against the Indians, Haren pitched eight innings, giving up one run and striking out seven in earning the win.

Wednesday’s series finale at 4:05 p.m. has Derek Lowe taking on Santana. Lowe and Santana matched up in the last series, with Lowe earning the win by throwing 7.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits. Santana took the loss despite going seven innings and giving up just two runs. Lefties are actually hitting slightly better against him (.251) than righties (.240).

As for Lowe, thank goodness the calendar has flipped to July. After going 6-3 combined in April and May, Lowe was 1-3 in June with an ERA of 6.49.

Even though the Tribe has struggled to score runs (this weekend in Baltimore being the exception), there are a few bright spots on the offense.

All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera has been consistent from Opening Day. He batted .302 in April, .296 in May and .297 in June. His power stroke finally returned in June as he hit six home runs with 20 RBI, after hitting five homers with 20 RBI in April and May combined.

The lead-off role has been very good to Shin-Soo Choo, who is at .291 on the season after hitting .333 in June with five home runs and 13 RBI. As a lead-off hitter, Choo is batting .324 with an OPS of .944.

The Indians could also use a return to good health from Carlos Santana. Since returning to the lineup after sustaining a concussion on May 25, Santana has hit .162 with no home runs. He missed the Baltimore series with a bad back.

As for the two teams the Tribe is battling for first in the division, the Tigers host Minnesota for four games while the White Sox host Texas – the best team in baseball – for a three-game series.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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