The Indians sweep of Seattle brings their winning streak to 4, immediately after having a three game losing streak. This streak has moved the Indians to 4 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. This is thanks to the series sweep of the Tigers by the Minnesota Twins. There will be a few familiar faces when the Indians play the Marlins as former central division foes John Buck (Royals), Omar Infante (Tigers) and Mark Buehrle (White Sox) currently reside in Miami. Former Indian outcasts Austin Kearns and Edward Mujica have also found a home with the Marlins. After seeing Carl Pavano and Jamey Carroll with the Twins and Eric Wedge with the Mariners its like all the Indians mistakes are coming back to play against them. Maybe this was the plan the whole time. Sign a bunch of terrible players then distribute them among the teams so the Tribe get to play against them.
Sometimes when you put crazy and crazy together they cancel each other out. This appears to be the case with Carlos Zambrano this year, as his union with Ozzie Guillen as been a success to this point. Zambrano was amazing as the Cubs ace, steadily improving from 2002 through 2007, but had fallen off in recent years. His decline in effectiveness and his childlike temper tantrums were enough to make Chicago give up on him. He has found new success in his new home, however, as he has only allowed 10 runs all season in almost 50 innings. In his last three games he has allowed only one run and struck out 21 in 23 innings. The one crack in Zambrano’s game to this point in the season is that he is still wild. He has allowed 20 combined walks and hit batters, two things that the Indians excel at.
Justin Masterson has been really hard to figure out this season. In his last outing he was bombed by the Red Sox for 6 runs after having three straight quality starts. It’s possible that the Red Sox had been under performing and they used that series to break out of it, but some of the blame has to fall on Masterson. He was uncharacteristically wild, hitting three batters, and when he did throw strikes, they got hit. On the season the Marlins have not been a great offensive team (144 runs scored, .238 batting average), so Masterson may be able to keep them in check a little easier than the Red Sox. Offensively the guy to look out for is Giancarlo Stanton, who has 8 home runs and 24 RBI through a month and a half. Their lineup isn’t very deep, so if Indians pitching can limit the damage by Stanton and Hanley Ramirez, it shouldn’t be too hard to deal with the rest of the roster.
Sanchez has thrown a quality start out there every time out so far, but hasn’t gone much further from that. He has only given up more than 2 runs once this season (his first start), but has not thrown past the 7th inning. This series should feature some tough pitching match-ups in general as each team is sending it’s three best starters out there.
After only giving up 4 runs in April through 15.1 innings, Gomez has allowed 11 runs in 20.2 innings during May. This includes his last time out when he threw 7 innings and didn’t allow an earned run. It’s not surprising that Gomez has pitched better against Minnesota, Oakland and Kansas City and worse against Chicago and Texas. Too this point Gomez is doing his job by beating the teams he is supposed to and some of those he isn’t. He would like to continue this trend with a good outing against the weak hitting Marlins.
Johnson has definitely been hittable this year. Over his career he has a 3.12 ERA, but since coming back from injury he has struggled some. Twice this year he has not been able to get through the 4th inning and he has given up 5 or more runs 3 times. Out of the three games this series, this one will feature the Marlins worst pitcher against the Indians best.
Derek Lowe pitched a complete game shutout in his last start. This is madness. Manny Acta doesn’t let starters throw nine innings!
Injury News: Travis Hafner is currently day to day after being hit by a pitch in the hand. He will probably miss the opener, but should be back by Saturday.
Jack Hannahan, who has missed the last 4 games with a strained back, is on schedule to be back in the starting lineup during this series, at least by the finale on Sunday.
Grady Sizemore took batting practice before the game on 5/16, but will not be back in the lineup until mid June at the earliest.