Tigers Offer Indians a True Test
The Indians head to Detroit this weekend to once again take on the Tigers. In other words, it’s a chance for the Indians to once again try to prove they have what it takes to tame the Tigers, a team that has made their lives and the lives of Indians fans a living hell for the better part of three years. Every series we hope that this will be the time that the Tribe finally turns it around, only to watch them fall flat on their faces.
So, it’s time to ask ourselves again, Is this the time where the Indians finally turn things around against the Tigers?
In my expert opinion, based on countless hours of detailed research and analysis I have reached the following conclusion,,, Who knows?
At this point, it’s not worth rehashing the things that have continued to go wrong for the Indians – The keep pitching to Miguel Cabrera. They can’t get a hit when they need it. Victor Martinez is out for vengeance. Terry Francona keeps letting relievers pitch to J.D. Martinez. God hates Cleveland.
May 31, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Toledo Mud Hens starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the second inning against the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY Sports
We’ve been over all of that numerous times over the past three years. To continue to do so would be a masochistic exercise serving no real purpose other than to make us feel bad about ourselves, our team’s payroll compared to the Tigers, and the number of all-stars they can field at each position (if the all-star game is your cup of tea). Instead, let’s focus on the things that have been going right for the Indians and hope that they can find a way to carry them over to the next three games in Detroit.
1. Starting pitching: The Indians’ starting pitching is arguably the best in all of baseball. We have seen numerous times throughout the history of baseball that good pitching will almost always neutralize good hitting. With Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber taking the mound for the Tribe, it’s hard to not like their chances of limiting the Tigers’ run scoring opportunities. Also, strikeouts. Lots and lots of strikeouts.
Of course, the Indians also have the misfortune of being the first team to see Justin Verlander this season. He will get the ball on Saturday for the first time this season. Hopefully, for the sake of the Indians, Verlander will not have the command of his fastball, lack any sense of control, and look like a shell of his former self. Oh, and to make matters worse, the Indians get David Price tonight. FUN TIMES!!! If they can survive that gauntlet, they get Alfredo Simon on Sunday.
2. The Indians have shown they can hit: Many people like to push the narrative that the Indians offense is a dumpster fire of ineptitude. That’s not the case. One through three with Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Michael Bourn is a three-headed OBP monster. Brandon Moss has shaken off his early season struggles and is driving in runs in bunches. Yan Gomes, finally healthy, is beginning to hit for power. Murphburn is an unstoppable superhuman out in right field. Even Michael Bourn has shown improvement in the bottom third of the lineup. Throw in a blue chip prospect in Giovanny Urshela and there is a lot to like here.
3. Terry Francona: I’m sorry, but if I’m heading into a big series or a must win game, I want Terry Francona. I especially want Terry Francona if my alternative is Brad Ausmus. No offense to Ausmus, but two world series rings and a boatload of experience is something you can’t find in a lot managers. This is the time of year when Francona starts showing his importance in how he manages his lineups and his bullpen.
4. Playing great: Despite their recent issues with the Orioles and the Mariners, the Indians are still playing great and are within striking distance of everyone ahead of them in the standings. There is real momentum in the Indians favor right now (At least as much momentum as you can have in baseball). It also helps that for whatever reason, the Indians are playing much better on the road this season. In an odd turn of events, heading to Detroit might just be the thing to get them rolling again. Exercise their demons with the Tigers and it could very well propel them on one hell of a winning streak.
Meanwhile, the Tigers come in as losers in nine of their last twelve games and are reeling. This is not the same team we saw earlier in the season and definitely not the team we thought could run away with the AL Central once again. They are struggling big time. If ever the Indians were going to capitalize an opportunity, it needs to be now. It needs to be this weekend against the Tigers.
Probable Pitching Match-Ups:
Danny Salazar (6-1, 3.50/1.15) vs. David Price (5-2, 2.70/1.15)
Carlos Carrasco (7-5, 4.35/1.23) vs. Justin Verlander (0-0, 0.00/0.00)
Corey Kluber (3-7, 3.53/1.16) vs. Alfredo Simon (6-3, 2.76/1.19)