Pregame Notes: Cleveland Indians kick off six-game home stand with weekend series vs. Minnesota


The Cleveland Indians return to Progressive Field with their sights sets on their first home series win of the season

This is beginning to sound a bit like a broken record: the Cleveland Indians still have not won a series since the opener against the Houston Astros, due in large part to the fact the Tribe is 1-8 in series openers this season.

Something’s got to give – and soon, if the Indians are serious about winning the AL Central.

Cleveland sits in the cellar of the AL Central with a horrid 10-17 record. They are 7.5 games behind the division-leading Kansas City Royals, who took two out of three from the Tribe at Kauffman this week. Perhaps most disappointing is the Indians putrid 4-8 record at home, a record they’ll look to improve upon over the next six games against Minnesota and St. Louis at Progressive Field.

Kicking off the home stand for the Indians will be the Tribe’s surprising early-season ace Trevor Bauer. After winning his first two starts of the season, Bauer is without a win in his last three outings despite two strong performances. He owns the best ERA (3.38) among Indians’ starters and has allowed just 11 earned runs over 29.1 innings pitched. With just three strikeouts in his last two starts, Bauer is uncharacteristically at the bottom of the pack in the strikeout category, dropping off significantly since his 11-strikeout performance in the season’s first week. 

The Tribe’s hard-throwing right-hander looks to rebound from a tough performance in his latest outing against the Toronto Blue Jays. Bauer lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing six earned runs and striking out one batter. This, of course, after going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts in April.

Opposite Bauer will be Twins’ right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who has rebounded nicely after allowing four runs in his first start of the season. Pelfrey surrendered just four runs in his next four outings before, again, looking shaky in his most recent outing this week. While he only allowed two runs in the start, Pelfrey lasted just 3.1 innings while walking two batters and hitting three.

Pelfrey has made one start against the Indians this season, a game in which he allowed one earned run in five innings of work. He walked four batters in the outing and surrendered three hits against a sputters Tribe offense.

Here are the starting lineups:

 Manager Terry Francona continues to try and find the right spot in the lineup for Michael Bourn. He’ll get a crack at the No. 7 spot in the lineup tonight with Brett Hayes and Jose Ramirez following him in the bottom third of the lineup.   

News & Notes:

-Today is the last chance to vote for the Indians’ Franchise Four, so make sure to visit today to cast your vote. Take a look at the Tribe’s Franchise Four candidates.

-The Tribe’s offense has improved significantly in the second month of the season, due in large part to the RBI-prowess of the team’s big left-handed bats. Both Michael Brantley and Brandon Moss are tied for the fourth-most RBIs (7) in the American League over the last seven days. Brantley and Carlos Santana are tied for the most runs scored (7) in that time span while newly-appointed lead-off man Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall rank second-best with six. 

More from Away Back Gone

-Kipnis has continued his tear out of the No. 1 spot in the lineup, ranking third-best in the American League with a .440 batting average in the last seven days. Since taking over for Bourn as the lead-off man, Kipnis is hitting .286 with four doubles and three home runs. He is seeing the ball better (six strikeouts) and becoming a more patient hitter, walking seven times in 12 games after drawing just two walks in the previous 15.

-After Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott threw out the first pitch for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals, the Buckeyes’ National Championship-winning quarterback took to Twitter to campaign for his shot at a first pitch.

And it worked. The Tribe complied, and the 6-feet-5-inch junior will have his shot at a first pitch sometime in the near future. Jones is involved in a public spat with Chicago Bulls’ imbecile / forward Joakim Noah. Noah reportedly mouthed “you ain’t in the SEC” while watching Jones on the public address mic, clearly forgetting the Buckeyes are the reigning National Champs. In other news, Noah’s beloved Florida Gators haven’t won a BCS Bowl Game since 2009. So there’s that…

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