Pregame Notes: Cleveland Indians look to get back on track against Seattle [LIVE CHAT]


Cleveland Indians try to rebound after an uninspired Game 1 effort against the Seattle Mariners

The Cleveland Indians were making moves in the AL Central. They had closed the gap to five games out of first place and sat just one game behind the division’s perennial winner Detroit Tigers.

Then they lost a series to the lowly Baltimore Orioles and looked lethargic — even despite the incredible buzz in Downtown Cleveland last night — in a loss to the Seattle Mariners. They are 3-4 now in the month of June and have to pick up the pace before the Tigers or Royals get hot and push the Tribe out of contention for good.

Trying to stop the skid, manager Terry Francona hands the ball to Trevor Bauer, who is looking for a career-high sixth victory tonight.

Bauer has been on an incredible run over his last five outings. He has pitched into the seventh inning in each of those starts, allowing no more than two earned runs in any outing since May 8. In that span, Cleveland’s hard-throwing right-hander has gone 3-1 — taking the hard-luck loss on May 29 in Seattle — with a 1.75 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 36 innings.

He is quietly putting together one of the more consistent efforts among a stable of quality arms for the Tribe. Bauer has posted a team-best 2.94 ERA in 11 outings, striking out 70 batters in 70.1 innings of work.

Opposite Bauer is Seattle right-hander Taijuan Walker, who had a rough start to the 2015 season. He enters the evening 2-6 with a 5.80 ERA, but the 22-year-old has posted back-to-back eight-inning outings, including a scoreless effort against the Tribe on May 29. That start, however, was at Safeco Field where Walker owns a 2.51 ERA on the season. He has posted a putrid 9.79 mark in six starts on the road this season.

Something has to give tonight, as the Tribe has played some of their worst baseball in Progressive Field. The team is 11-17 in Cleveland this season and is 1-3 on their current six-game homestand despite hosting two sub-.500 teams.

Here are the starting lineups:

Zach Walters is in the lineup tonight as the third baseman, as Giovanny Urshela (0-for-3 in last night’s debut) has a set against Walker.

According to Mariners’ broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith, Nelson Cruz is healthy enough to play after leaving last night’s game with back spasms, but Cruz is getting the day off anyway. He is available to pinch hit.

News & Notes:

-It hasn’t taken Yan Gomes long to get back up to speed after missing more than a month of the season with a knee injury. While he’s still hitting just .222 in 16 games this season, the Indians’ young catcher is 10-for-39 in the last seven games and clubbed his first two home runs of the season in last night’s loss.

Jason Kipnis is continuing to make history for the Tribe in the early part of this season. He enters tonight’s game with a 19-game home hit streak, which is tied for the longest in club history. Michael Brantley put together a 19-game streak of his own last season in Progressive Field.

-So much was made about the Tribe’s bullpen comically holding Brandon Moss’s 100th home run baseball at ransom last week. At the start of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, CEO Tim Cooke mentioned the note and the laundry list of Apple products the Indians’ relievers demanded in return for the baseball. In an interesting turn of events, Cooke and the Indians announced on Monday that Apple is going to do Moss a solid and pay the ransom.

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Next: Indians-Mariners series preview