Pregame Notes: Cleveland Indians head west to take on sputtering Seattle Mariners

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The Cleveland Indians will get a steady dose of left-handed pitching in Seattle – much like they will everywhere else until they prove they can hit it – and it all starts with 26-year-old James Paxton

Paxton enters Thursday night’s meeting with a 3-2 record and a steady 3.52 ERA. He is 7-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 career starts at Safeco Field. After allowing 14 runs in his first three starts, the young southpaw has settled in nicely and has given up just two runs in his previous three outings, including an eight inning shutout against the Red Sox early last week.

Opposite Paxton will be Indians’ ace Corey Kluber, who has been absolutely dynamite as of late. After a slow start to the season, Kluber has thrown eight or more innings in each of his last three starts, allowing just two runs across 25 innings. He has struck out 37 batters in that span while allowing just one batter to reach via the walk.

Now back with his favorite target, Yan Gomes, behind the dish, Kluber looks to continue his success into the pitcher-friendly Seattle ballpark. He will match up against the Mariners for just the second time in his career, as the only other meeting came in a highly touted contest between Kluber and Felix Hernandez in the midst of last year’s Cy Young race. Kluber tossed a complete game shutout that night to be King Felix, striking out eight batters.

The one key difference between last year’s outing and the 2015 version: Mariners’ offseason acquisition Nelson Cruz. Cruz is hitting an absurd .341 with a league-leading 18 home runs and 38 RBIs. He is 4-for-13 in the last two years against Kluber with a home run and two doubles. Kluber will have to keep Cruz at bay and get some oft-absent help from the offense tonight if he aims to beat the Mariners.

Here are the starting lineups:

News & Notes:

Carlos Santana will rejoin the team later on in this road trip, as he is currently home witnessing the birth of a new baby girl. Congratulations to Santana on the new addition to his family.

-With so much attention paid to the offensive tear by Jason Kipnis, the success of Michael Bourn is being largely overlooked. Since being moved out of the leadoff spot, Bourn is hitting .300/.378/.388 with 10 walks and 11 runs scored. His season average now sits at a much more respectful .248 and he’s collected 13 RBIs on the season – almost half the number of RBIs he totaled last season. In Wednesday afternoon’s onslaught, Bourn had two hits, two RBIs and a steal for the first time in a Cleveland uniform. He hadn’t done that since June 23, 2012 as a member of the Atlanta Braves.

-Tribe fans are easily the most multi-talented fans in the league. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s your proof:

Next: Seattle Series Preview

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