The Indians are in free fall, falling two games below .500 for the first time since April. There isn't a single part of the team that is without blame, but the offense has especially fallen off in the past weeks. Against New York and Detroit, the Indians scored more than four runs just a single time and were held to a single run in the final game against the Tigers, by a young pitcher in his Major League debut.There have also been some issues with the pitching staff, but they are still playing well enough to win games with a decent offense behind them.
Everyone will need to step up their game going into the next series as the Indians travel to Texas to play one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball. The Rangers own the AL West and are dominating all opponents despite losing their top hitter, Josh Hamilton, from the past few seasons.
Game 1: Monday, June 10th 8:05 PM EDT
Scott Kazmir, LHP, 3-3, 5.24 ERA vs Josh Lindblom, RHP, 0-1, 7.71 ERA
The Indians will face two pitchers this series that they have never faced before. That is just about the scariest thing that you could say to the Indians hitters this year, a team that has destroyed all but two of the former Cy Young award winners they have faced. Most recently, the Indians scored three runs against Justin Verlander in the opening game against Detroit, but were unable to get anything more than a solo home run against Jose Alvarez who pitched the finale. Lindblom may not be as good as either of those two starters, but it may be irrelevant with the way the Indians are hitting right now. Something will have to break the Indians out of their month long slump though, and maybe it will be the hitter friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington.
Game 2: Tuesday, June 11th 8:05 PM EDT
Corey Kluber, RHP, 3-4, 4.56 ERA vs Derek Holland, LHP, 5-2, 2.82 ERA
The Indians will face their only familiar foe during this middle game of the series. Holland has fared well against the Indians in the past (3-0, 2.31 ERA), but these are not your left handed only Indians. Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis have all had success against Holland and some of the younger players (Yan Gomes, Drew Stubbs, etc.) have yet to face him. Who knows, maybe all Mark Reynolds is waiting for to break out of his slump is a nice hard throwing left hander.
Game 3: Wednesday, June 12th 8:00 PM EDT ESPN
Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 4-4, 5.03 ERA vs Nick Tepesch, RHP, 3-5, 3.92 ERA
Tepesch is a rookie, but has been in the Rangers rotation all season. This will be his first game against the Tribe and it will come off his worst game of the year, where he gave up six runs against the Blue Jays (he allowed just six runs in all of April). Overall, he has pitched well and seeing the Indians past against rookie starters, they could be in trouble.
Jimenez didn't pitch too poorly in his last time out, but a an errors cost him two unearned runs and he was removed from the game after just three innings and 85 pitches. It broke a stretch of eight games pitching through at least the fourth, a set back after a full month worth of quality starts. Still, just once since April 21st has he given up more than three runs in a start and he continues to strike batters out without walking as many as last season. If he can continue improving as he has most of the year, this will be the closest and lowest scoring game of the series.