The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive Tigers With Chance to Bury Tribe
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

santana twinsLosers of six straight, a trip to Detroit will be the final stage of a nine-game road trip that has seen the Indians fall completely out of the race. The Indians’ last victory came over Detroit when they got to Justin Verlander in the seventh inning of a 3-1 game to get what, at the time, seemed like the win that would turn things around and be a building block. It wasn’t, and the Tribe is winless since. The highlight of the season seems like a distant memory now as the Tribe and Tigers get set to battle at Comerica Park.

The Tigers are “in the hunt” in the AL Central, not atop the division like everyone predicted they would before the season began. They’ll begin this series 2.5 games in back of the White Sox and with a five-game cushion over the Indians, who are 7.5 back. Like the Indians, the Tigers have struggled since last week’s series finale, losing four of six. The Tigers have scored just 19 runs over those six games while the Indians have accumulated 17. The Indians, who own the American League’s second-worst run differential, have been outscored 48-17 during their six-game losing streak.

It seems that the Indians will play out the final two months of the season by trying to play spoiler. At this point, with two teams to jump in the Central, a 7.5-game deficit to make up, and a starting rotation that hasn’t found any consistency – except maybe the consistency to get rocked – the Indians appear to be out of the race for good. There are still 57 games to play, but, it would take an impressive run just to get back in the hunt.

In any event, there’s still baseball to be played and here are the pitching matchups for this weekend’s set in Southwest Ontario.

masterson01Friday August 3, 7:05 p.m. ET; Justin Masterson (7-9, 4.47) v. Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 7.50)

Justin Masterson’s maddening inconsistency has left the fans and front office wondering if he truly has “ace” potential. Beginning with his complete game three-hitter against the Reds on June 20, Masterson has a 1.69 ERA in alternating starts. In the other starts, he has a 10.62 ERA. If this trend continues, Masterson should pitch pretty well in the opener against Detroit. In his last start, the lowly Twins bombed him for 10 runs, eight earned, in 5.2 innings.

The Tigers have been very proactive at the trade deadline the last two seasons and this one was no different. The Indians will get their second look at Anibal Sanchez, who the Tigers acquired from the Miami Marlins. Sanchez was 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA for the Marlins and made his Tigers debut in Toronto on July 28. He gave up five runs in six innings, including three home runs.

Masterson beat the Tigers in his only start against them this season, a 2-1 win on May 24 where he outdueled Justin Verlander, going seven innings and allowing one run on five hits. That win over Verlander was the first in Masterson’s career against the Tigers. Masterson continues to be awful on the road where he has a 6.05 ERA. Sanchez lost to the Indians during interleague play when the Marlins were in town. He pitched well, giving up two runs over seven innings, but his offense gave him no help against Jeanmar Gomez. It will be interesting to see how Sanchez adjusts to the AL, with a career ERA of 5.00 in interleague play.

jimenezhoustonSaturday August 4, 7:05 p.m. ET; Ubaldo Jimenez (8-10, 5.08) v. Doug Fister (5-7, 3.77)

Like every other Indians starter, Jimenez has looked really good at times and really bad at times. Against the Tigers this season, he’s actually looked quite good. Since the All-Star break, however, Jimenez’s mechanics have been of whack and he’s hung a 7.97 ERA in four starts, allowing over two baserunners per inning. Outside of his six shutout innings against Detroit on July 24, Jimenez has been knocked around by Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota.

Doug Fister actually lost to the Indians in his last start, although, he didn’t pitch that badly. Fister has had a rough season with a couple stints on the DL, but his performance this year is closer to his career numbers. Fister got a lot of positive press after going 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA after being traded to the Tigers last season, but, this season, he’s been more of his usual self. He’s finding some consistency of late, posting a 3-1 record and a 1.80 ERA over his last four starts.

Jimenez is 2-0 in three starts against the Tigers this season with a 1.93 ERA. He’s walked nine and struck out 10 in 18.2 innings, so maybe he’s been “effectively wild”. Like the rest of the Indians rotation, Jimenez is far worse on the road, with a 6.68 ERA in 12 starts. Fister, despite losing to the Tribe last week, has owned the Indians in his career. He’s just 3-3 in 10 starts due to run support, but he has a 2.52 ERA and a WHIP below one.

Sunday August 5, 1:05 p.m. ET; Undecided v. Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.62)

The Indians will have to put a replacement in the rotation for the recently-DFA’d Derek Lowe, and that man will pitch the road trip finale on Sunday. The candidates are Chris Seddon (11-5, 3.44), David Huff (5-5, 5.15), and Jeanmar Gomez (4-2, 3.54). Huff and Gomez are both on the 40-man roster, so the smart money would be on one of them. The Indians could DFA somebody to add Seddon to the roster (and there are no shortage of candidates), but the Indians would only do that if they were committed to sending Seddon to the mound every five days for the rest of the season.

Max Scherzer has lowered his ERA from 5.88 to 4.62 over his last 10 starts and was a key part of the Tigers turnaround. With Verlander and Fister atop the rotation, the key was always for somebody at the middle/back-end of the rotation to step up. Scherzer has done that of late. He beat the Indians last week in Cleveland in Derek Lowe’s final home start. Scherzer has a 5.09 ERA in 10 starts against the Indians.


Keys to the Series:

1. Win a Game – The last thing the Indians want to do is come home to an empty ballpark on Monday after going 0-for on their road trip. Not to mention, it’s always nice to beat the Tigers whether we’re in first place or 30 games out.

2. Give Brantley a Workout – Comerica Park has an incredibly spacious outfield. The gaps are big and deep and it takes a monumental shot to hit a home run to center field. The key to pitching at Comerica is to use the big part of the ballpark. Ubaldo Jimenez’s ground ball percentage is down 10% from last season, which means he’s giving up more line drives and fly balls. Make ‘em hit it to center.

3. Please, Win a Game – Being tasked with writing game recaps here for, I can say with utmost certainty that they’re much easier to write about and games are far more entertaining to watch when the Indians win. Just win one. They don’t even have to win the series. Just at least win one.


Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Johnny Damon. Why? Well, because, with three righties on the mound, it’s time for Damon to prove his worth or he may go the Derek Lowe route. Damon has supposedly been “turning the corner” for a while now. A .281 OBP with horrible defense doesn’t cut it. The Indians are probably out of the race and Damon should be the next casualty to bring up someone and see if they can be a fourth outfielder next season.


Wishful Thinking:

Along the same lines as the Damon thing, let’s start cutting the cord with a lot of guys. Get rid of Jeremy Accardo. DFA Damon. Waiver trade Kotchman. Play Marson everyday. Get some at bats to the guys in the minors who are having decent seasons. You don’t want to leave Columbus hanging high and dry as they’re just three back in the wild card, but it’s not about them. It’s about the future of the Cleveland Indians. They did nothing at the trade deadline and will have to find help from within. Give these kids 150 at bats through the rest of the year and see if there’s any hope.


Central Focus:

The White Sox host the Angels, the Twins are at Fenway taking on the Sawx, and the Royals host Texas.


One Last Thing...:

Happy Birthday to my Dad, who will celebrate #54 on Saturday.

The TCF Forums