Behind the strength of Scott Kazmir’s best start of the season, the Indians managed to salvage one game in Seattle to go 2-4 on their first road trip after the All-Star break. While it is not the start they wanted, they are still within striking distance of Detroit. Of course, things are only going to get tougher now as the Tribe will not be facing the lowly Twins or Mariners this time around.
Texas Rangers (13/2 Odds to win AL Pennant) at Cleveland Indians (14/2)
Game 1: Friday, July 26th 7:05 PM EDT
Martin Perez, LHP, 3-3, 3.40 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 7-5, 3.69 ERA
Perez was called up in May and will be making just his eighth start of the season against Cleveland on Friday. He has had moderate success, including a span of four games recently, where he allowed just four total runs across 25 innings. Making this even more impressive is the fact that those games came against some of the greatest offenses in baseball including the Reds, Cardinals and Orioles. Since then, however, he has not fared as well, taking two losses against the Orioles and Tigers. The Indians have the added benefit of him being left handed, which is good news for Mark Reynolds, who is on an amazing two game hitting streak (the odds of a .093 hitter getting hits in two games in a row seem insurmountable), as he is slugging almost 100 points higher against south paws than right handers. The Indians could use some slugging from their free agent DH, who has yet to have an extra base hit during July and has had just two since the start of June.
Game 2: Saturday, July 27th 7:05 PM EDT
Yu Darvish, RHP, 9-4, 2.86 ERA, vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 11-7, 3.60 ERA
This should be a game for the ages as two of the top aces in the American League will go head to head. While the numbers may favor Darvish (especially with as free swinging of a team as the Indians), Masterson will have the advantage of an extra days rest after the off day Thursday and he has been almost unbeatable while at full strength. This game should be one for the ages. Get your tickets now folks, there will only be 20,000 or so left the day of the game.
Game 3: Sunday, July 28th 1:05 PM EDT
Alexi Ogando, LHP, 4-2, 3.13 ERA vs Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 7-5, 4.49 ERA
So we meet again, old friend. Alexi Ogando may be a career 3.12 ERA pitcher, but against the Indians he’s better than Cy Young. In two starts and six relief appearances against the Tribe he has went 3-0 with 16 strike outs in 21.1 innings. Also, he has allowed just two runs, giving him an ERA of 0.84 against Cleveland, his best against any team he has faced more than once. Cleveland has often struggled with Texas over the past few years and Ogando has recently become a big part of that struggle (Elvis Andrus with his .379 average, 22 RBI and hits in all 34 games he has played against the Indians is an even bigger part). Of course, the Indians can only get better against Ogando (that’s a lie, they could get shut out again) and the game is going to be played in Cleveland rather than the Texas heat, so the Tribe may have a chance in this game that will likely be a blowout of Texas proportions. If you are betting on the Tribe this series, stay away from this one.