The Indians got all their demons out in game one against Miami before turning things around and taking the last two games and the series. During this same period, the Tigers were sweeping a three game series against the White Sox, making sure the Indians didn't gain any ground. The Tribe won't get a better chance to gain ground in the AL Central than this upcoming series against Detroit.
For the rest of the season the Indians will play the Tigers seven more times, four of those coming at home during the next week. If the Indians can at least split the series, it will put them in excellent position as the competition gets a lot easier as the season goes on with the last 22 games of the year coming against teams that are currently under .500 or the Royals.
An interesting side story to go along with this series is that Major League Baseball is expected to deal out suspensions to those players involved in the Biogenesis scandal. While not all of the players involved have been announced, Jhonny Peralta, the starting short stop for the Tigers, is expected to be suspended for at least 50 games. Miguel Cabrera could also miss some time as he has been held out lately with an abdominal strain. He was able to pinch hit in the 12th inning of the Tigers game on Sunday, but was not able to run and had to be removed for a pinch runner.
Game 1: Monday, August 4th 7:05 PM EDT
Anibal Sanchez, RHP, 9-7, 2.59 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 7-5, 3.77 ERA
This game is incredibly important for the Tribe if they want to win the series for a few reasons. First, the Tigers are on an eight game winning streak (their longest of the season) that has made it impossible for the Indians to make up any ground over the past week. Winning game one is the best way to destroy that momentum and make sure that a sweep doesn't go the other way. Secondly, while none of the pitching match-ups really favor Cleveland, this is one of the better ones. Kluber has already faced Detroit three times and hasn't had much problem holding back their offense outside of Miguel Cabrera. With the third baseman injured, he should not be as big of a factor in the series, especially game one.
Game 2: Tuesday, August 5th 7:05 PM EDT
Justin Verlander, RHP, 11-8, 3.88 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 13-7, 3.33 ERA
Sometimes you just get lucky and Masterson has gotten the luck of the draw in each of his last three starts (including this one), facing the opponents ace. The good thing for him is that the Indians have been able to score against Verlander this year, so he should be a slightly easier foe than Chris Sale or Yu Darvish. In his past four starts Masterson has averaged almost seven innings and seven strike outs per game, while giving up just four earned runs over that span. He will need his to continue that stretch of good pitching if he wants to beat the big swinging Tigers.
Game 3: Wednesday, August 6th 7:05 PM EDT
Doug Fister, RHP, 10-5, 3.52 ERA vs Danny Salazar, RHP, 1-0, 1.50 ERA
This game needs such a detailed analysis that it got it's own article. Read here about why Salazar is making this start instead of the regularly scheduled Ubaldo Jimenez.
Game 4: Thursday, August 7th 7:05 PM EDT
Max Scherzer, RHP, 16-1, 2.85 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 4-6, 3.47 ERA
This will be the toughest game for the Tribe, who better win at least two of the first three or things could get very ugly by the end of this series. While Scherzer is no longer perfect, he's close and on a short list of possible Cy Young award winners this year. He is on pace to easily win 20 games and is currently ranked second all time in single season winning percentage (.941, just behind Roy Face who went 18-1 for the 1959 Pirates) for his effort to this point in 2013. A win against the Indians would be almost enough to put him into first all time, but McAllister will do his best to make sure that doesn't happen (at least not on this day). A loss would drop him all the way back to 8th all time (W% of .889)