The Indians just completed a quick 2 game sweep of the Minnesota Twins. Many positive things came out of this series: starting pitching was strong, the offense started producing runs, they hit a 4 home runs in 2 games, and Johnny Damon is no longer in the lead off role. Next, the Indians return home for another 2 game series, this time against the Seattle Mariners, who are currently in 3rd place in the AL West, and 8 games behind the Texas Rangers.
This is the second series against the Mariners this season. The Indians took the first series from them, 2-1. With consistent pitching and solid offense, the Indians should sweep this series as well. The Indians are currently 2 games ahead of the second place Tigers, which guarantees them first place standings at the end of this series.
The last time the Indians faced the King (4/19), he pitched 8 shut out innings and left for the 9th where the Seattle closer blew the game. This was one of the rare time where the Indians strategy of striking out constantly to increase a starters pitch count actually worked. Twelve Indians struck out, but it forced Hernandez to throw 126 pitches, a number that Eric Wedge was not comfortable with. The Indians abillity to work the count is one of their greatest strong points and they will need to be very selective against Hernandez.
The reason the Indians were able to come back in that game was because Josh Tomlin kept the Mariners to a single run. After his time out against Boston, I’m not sure that Ubaldo has it in him to do that. There are a couple of ways to look at the series in Boston. One of those is that Boston is a high level team that has been playing very poorly so far and they finally got it together when the Tribe came to town. It still doesn’t fit exactly with his dominance of an even better offensive team in the Texas Rangers, but it can go a little to explain how he gave up 7 runs in 4 innings.
Noesi is a rookie for Seattle and has yet to pitch against the Indians. He has struggled some this year, specifically against the Rangers and White Sox where he was unable to go more than 3 innings, but has also shown moments of greatness. In two games, against the Twins and the A’s, he allowed one run in 7 innings and had an 8 inning shutout. Those four games can probably be considered outliers in a short career so far. More likely he will be like his other three starts where he has allowed between 4 and 6 runs in 5 to 7 innings.
McAllister has pitched well in each of his two starts, especially considering that he pitched the last one on less than a days notice. This will be the first of his three starts this year that has been scheduled in advance, so he should be able to be a little more prepared for the hitters he is going to face. Of course the hitters for Seattle are nowhere near those of Chicago or Boston, so he should get some help there too.