The Cleveland Indians are in the basement of the AL Central. At 48-55, they are 14 games behind the first-place Kansas City Royals. And they’re six games out of the final Wild Card spot in the American League.
There are just under 60 games remaining in the season so, although there’s time to make up ground, the Indians are in a situation wherein they seemingly have to win every series from here on out.
That’s easier said than done, however.
Up 2-1 in the weekend series against Oakland, the Tribe must go through A’s ace Sonny Gray for this win.
Gray is 11-4 with a 2.16 ERA this season and has allowed just one run in 21 innings against Cleveland throughout his career. In fact, no AL team has a lower batting average against him than the Indians (.129) as Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis are a combined 1-for-22 with eight strikeouts. Oakland’s All-Star righty two-hit the Indians at Progressive Field on July 12 and tossed a three-hitter in last week’s 2-0 win against the Dodgers.
As good as he’s been of late, Gray has struggled mightily at home. He’s 0-2 with a 5.04 ERA in his last four starts and, as a team, the A’s are mired in a 2-7 stretch at home where they’re hitting .197 with 2.8 runs of support.
Opposite Gray is the Tribe’s feisty righty Trevor Bauer, who is coming off the first complete game of his career, though that feat came in a loss against Kansas City. The 24-year-old has lost three consecutive outings for the first time in his career, posting a 6.16 ERA despite his impressive start on Tuesday.
After going 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA in his first six road starts this season, Bauer has labored through his last three outings. He has been on the losing end of two of those three starts while posting a 5.71 ERA.
Bauer will have to be at his best again this evening if he’s going to outduel Gray and lead the Indians to a series win. Here are the starting lineups:
Lonnie Chisenhall will hit leadoff and Jerry Sands is set to play first base.
News & Notes:
-The Indians have received some much-needed offense from two unlikely hitters over the last seven days. Michael Bourn has nine hits in 21 at-bats and, for the first time since joining the Tribe, his speed (4 stolen bases) has been a significant factor on the basepaths. Lonnie Chisenhall, as well, has been exceptional since re-joining the team in the middle of last week. Through three games with the Tribe, Chisenhall is hitting .364 (4-for-11), including a solo home run.
-Kipnis is 10-for-29 in the last seven days, but he has been the Tribe’s DH the last two nights due to a sore right shoulder. According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, the issue wasn’t first considered serious, but the most recent report has not ruled out a DL stint for the Tribe second baseman.
-After the Indians’ defense posted a miserable -75 defensive runs saved in 2014, Cleveland has improved to -4 DRS in 2015. Since rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor joined the club and replaced Jose Ramirez, the Indians defense is +6 in that category. While the Indians knew he’d make an immediate impact on the defensive side, no one could have imagined his significant offensive output this soon. Since the All-Star Break, Lindor is hitting .333/.368/.508 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.