Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Cleveland Indians

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Red Hot Indians Look to Keep Things Going

The Cleveland Indians, at least the version we all expected to see at the start of the season, finally decided to show up to the party. After defeating the Reds to finish off a three game weekend sweep, the Indians have now won six straight games and eight out of their last ten. The streak has even managed to pull them out of the AL Central cellar.

The catalyst for the Indians’ success of late has been the starting pitching. They have been absolutely dominant during their most successful stretch of the season. Over the past six games, the Indians pitching staff has not allowed the opposition to score more than three runs per game. They are also striking out opposing batters at an almost prolific rate. It’s very reminiscent of the second half of the 2014 season in which the Indians pitching nearly carried them to a playoff berth.

May 22, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA;Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Offensively for the Indians, things have gotten much better. While many advanced statistics have rated the Indians as one of the better offensive teams in baseball, bad luck has played a very big factor in their lack of success. The bad luck couldn’t last forever and it appears that the tide is finally starting to turn in their favor. Runs are starting to cross the plate with more regularity and many of the Tribe’s hitters are starting to come out of their early season funk. It’s no longer just the Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis Show.

The Indians also got a big boost on Sunday with the return of Yan Gomes. Roberto Perez did an admirable job filling in while he was recovering from a sprained knee. But make no mistake, Gomes if the superior backstop and hitter. His absence in the lineup, specifically against left-handed pitching was one of the biggest issues plaguing the Indians over the last month of the season. He’s back now, so hopefully that translates to better defense and a more potent offensive output.

Meanwhile, the Rangers come into Progressive Field having seen better days. They enter play today with a record of 20-23 and currently sit in fourth place in the AL West. This team is far removed from the one that went to back to back World Series and routinely competed for the AL West title. Sure, they’ve scored the ninth most runs in baseball with 191, but their pitching staff has done a terrible job at preventing them from crossing the plate given their 4.19 ERA, 19th in all of baseball.

Despite their issues, the Rangers are a team that has more than it’s fair share of interesting pieces. Offensively, they rely on Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, and Leonys Martin. Unfortunately for them, only Fileder is living up to expectations, leading the Rangers in every offensive category imaginable. After a few rocky years thanks largely to an injured neck that required surgery, Fielder appears to be back to his normal , home run hitting self. The Indians cannot let him beat them under any circumstance.

From a pitching standpoint, the Rangers are a mess. Injuries have once again decimated their staff. Yu Darvish has been gone all year. Derek Holland didn’t make it out of the first inning of his first start. Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Ross Detwiler… al injured. That has once again forced youngsters and veteran journeymen into a lot of innings and it’s gone about as well as you would expect. The Rangers can only hope they get out of 2015 without any more major injuries so they can start over in 2016.

Probable Pitching Match-ups:

Shaun Marcum (1-0) vs. Phil Klein (1-0)

Danny Salazar (5-1) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (2-2)

Carlos Carrasco (5-4) vs. Colby Lewis (4-2)

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