The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive Tribe, Tigers Set To Renew Rivalry
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

carmona sheffiedIn the case of the unstoppable force and the rapidly-retreating object, the Indians welcome the Detroit Tigers to town for a three-game set after dropping a four-game series at home to the Baltimore Orioles and falling well behind the pace in the AL Central Division. The wild card is also beginning to look like a pipe dream as six teams are now in front of the Indians, including two teams tied at the top.

The Indians aren’t entirely out of it, as the Tigers and White Sox both proved that one hot stretch of baseball can vault you to the top of the division. The Indians, however, don’t appear to have the personnel to go on the type of run that it would take to get back on top and then sustain that lead through the first three days of October. Tuesday’s game marks the first of 12 games remaining against the Tigers, so anything can happen, but it’ll have to happen one game at a time. With a small likelihood of a long winning streak, these games against divisional opponents are enormous. These three are no different.

The Tigers are on fire. They’ve won 13 of 15 and steamrolled the White Sox in Detroit this past weekend, sweeping them and sending them to second place. About the best that the Indians can hope for is that the Monday off day for the Tigers cooled them off. The Indians are 5-1 against the Tigers this season, but they were both very different teams when they met in late May and again in early June. Now, the Indians have gone up and down while really struggling offensively and the Tigers can’t lose.

It’ll be a gut check for the Indians to shake off the bad stretch and try to salvage something within the division in advance of the July 31 trade deadline. With that in mind, let’s look at the pitching matchups for this three-game set at Progressive Field.

jimenezhoustonTuesday July 24, 7:05 p.m. ET; Doug Fister (4-6, 4.04) v. Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 5.24)

Doug Fister seems to have turned it around now that he’s healthy. In his last two starts, he’s gone 15 innings and allowed just two runs, with 18 strikeouts and two walks. Fister has spent time on the DL twice this season, once with an oblique, and once with right arm troubles. He left after 3.2 innings in his first start of the season and didn’t return for a month. He went on the DL again following his May 28 start and returned June 16. He hasn’t been the dominant 8-1, 1.79 ERA that the Tigers got for two months after last season’s trade deadline, but he’s really had a difficult season.

Ubaldo Jimenez remains an unknown any time he takes the mound. After having a strong stretch of seven starts with an ERA of 2.93, Jimenez has allowed 13 runs in his last two starts with more walks than strikeouts. Honestly, with a WHIP of 1.61 for the season, it’s hard to comprehend how Jimenez is almost .500 with an ERA of only 5.24. The Indians need a good start on Tuesday.

The Indians don’t hit Fister very well. He’s only 3-2 in nine career starts against the Indians, but that comes with a 2.35 ERA, a .92 WHIP, and a .212 batting average against. In his last start against the Indians, he didn’t factor in the decision but pitched 6.2 solid innings giving up just two runs. With the Indians, Jimenez is 4-3 with a 5.26 ERA against Detroit. He is 2-0 this season with a 2.84 ERA. Jimenez’s last two starts have come on the road where he has a 6.63 ERA compared to a 3.66 at home.

lowe baltimoreWednesday July 25, 7:05 p.m. ET; Max Scherzer (9-5, 4.61) v. Derek Lowe (8-8, 5.04)

Max Scherzer was downright terrible to start the season. After his June 6 start against Cleveland, Scherzer had a 5.88 ERA. Since then, Scherzer has a 2.80 ERA in those last seven starts. With Scherzer, the issue has been command and home runs. Because his command sometimes gets away from him, though he’s only walked 39 in 109.1 innings of work, he puts hitters into good counts. Scherzer has allowed 17 home runs and 114 hits this season.

Derek Lowe has been about as bad as a pitcher can be for the last two months. He’s given up seven runs or more five times during his last ten outings and has had massive amounts of trouble with missing bats. Lowe is averaging just 2.8 strikeouts per start and you can see the effect that has had. With so much contact, Lowe has given up 140 hits in 110.1 innings. Since May 26, Lowe has posted an 8.31 ERA and has 24 strikeouts against 22 walks.

To put it nicely, Scherzer has been terrible in his career against the Indians. In nine starts, he’s 4-4 with a 5.44 ERA. In four starts at Progressive Field, Scherzer is 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA. Lowe faced the Tigers back on June 7 as the Indians were going for a sweep and threw batting practice giving up seven runs on nine hits over five innings. Lowe has been better at home this season with a 4.22 ERA, which has gone up thanks to a 12.21 ERA in his last three home starts.

mcallister tampaThursday July 26, 7:05 p.m. ET; Justin Verlander (11-5, 2.42) v. Zach McAllister (4-2, 3.21)

Perennial Cy Young award, and hell, MVP award, candidate Justin Verlander takes the mound in the series finale. Verlander has won six of his last seven decisions. His streak of at least six innings per start is now at 62 consecutive starts. He has shown some measure of being human by giving up six home runs in his last five starts, including three by Tampa on June 29. But, as we all know, if Verlander is on, you can get no-hit.

Little did we know at the start of the season that if we could pick any pitcher to match up with Verlander, we would choose Zach McAllister. McAllister has been the Indians best starting pitcher for the last month and, with some help from his defense, McAllister could easily have six or seven wins in just nine starts. In his last outing, McAllister was brilliant for seven innings while pitching with a slim 1-0 lead. He made a couple mistakes in the eighth and took the tough luck loss.

The Indians have had success against Verlander, though it’s been very sporadic. Verlander lost to the Indians on May 24 when his offense failed him. He only gave up two runs in eight innings, but took the loss in a 2-1 game. He’s given up nine runs in his last 30 innings against the Tribe. McAllister beat the Tigers back on May 23 when he was filling in for Josh Tomlin. He went 6.1 innings, allowing just two runs.


Keys to the Series:

1. The Last Stand – It may be making too much out of this series, but the Indians need some momentum and a reason to feel good about themselves. Cooling off the surging Tigers would do that. At this point, falling behind two teams in the Central and about 45 in the wild card, the sense of urgency has to kick in. This would be a good place to start. Lose the series or get swept and you’re in trouble.

2. Play With Confidence – Lately, the Indians look like they know they’re going to lose anytime they fall behind. That doesn’t work. They have to go out there expecting to hit with runners in scoring position and play well. They’re 5-1 against the Tigers this season. Even though the Tigers are playing great right now, it’s still the same group of guys that the Indians have beaten five times in 2012.

3. Focus On Fielding – The one thing that the Indians absolutely cannot do with their offense struggling and two pitchers who allow a lot of baserunners is commit errors. One of their advantages over the Tigers was defense and they can’t let that go by the wayside now.


Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Casey Kotchman. Kotchman was one of the keys for the Indians during that first week of July when they were playing so well. He was 10-for-24 that week. Since the All-Star break, Kotchman is just 3-for-25. It seems like a lot of key situations have been falling on his shoulders this season and he has to cash in on those opportunities.


Wishful Thinking:

For the Indians to win this series, they have to beat either Fister or Verlander, or both. That would be a good accomplishment for a team that’s really scuffling.


Central Focus:

The White Sox try to clean the wounds that the Tigers clawed into them by heading to Minnesota. The Royals, just a half-game out of last place, head to Anaheim.


One Last Thing...:

Keep checking back to as we approach the trade deadline for all the latest news, notes, and rumors regarding the Indians.

The TCF Forums