The All Star break is a little over a week away for the Cleveland Indians, and it will be a very important stretch for the hometown nine.
First, of the 11 games Cleveland has leading into the break, eight of them are at Progressive Field, where Terry Francona’s team has been mediocre at best, with a record of 17-21 to date.
Second, seven of the contests are against Central Division rivals, the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are sitting at 34-43 on the season, six and a half games behind the Indians for the division, and six games out of a wild card spot.
Success against the Motor City Kitties over the next two weekends would pretty much eliminate the Tigers from overtaking the Tribe, and it would probably cause them to be sellers at the July 31st trade deadline.
The Indians also have a three game series at home against the lowly San Diego Padres, who are sitting at 32-46 coming into today.
It appears the Tribe is sitting in a good spot to perhaps take command of the AL Central if they can play well going into the break.
However, outside of last year when Francona’s squad went 14-4 against the Tigers, Detroit has dominated the Tribe and has won four of the six games to date this year.
Cleveland scored half of their runs against the Tigers in one game, a 13-6 win for the Indians in April. The Tribe has scored three runs or less in four of the six contests between the two teams this season.
Conversely, Mike Matheny’s team has scored five or more runs in four out of six games.
The middle of the Detroit batting order, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Justin Upton have killed the Tribe, and now J.D. Martinez, who has missed all of the games between the two squads is back.
And long time Indians killer, Alex Avila is back and hitting well for Detroit. He always seems to come up with big hits against the Tribe.
Compounding this weekend’s series is a doubleheader on Saturday, which means someone from the minors, probably Ryan Merritt will start one of those games, and Corey Kluber is pitching today, so he is not available this weekend.
On the other hand, Trevor Bauer, who has been hit hard by Detroit in both starts against them in 2017 will not pitch this weekend either.
Both Kluber and Bauer will probably pitch against the Tigers at Progressive Field right before the all star break.
The other key is to start playing better at home. Cleveland’s record at Progressive Field has been mediocre to date and it is time to start playing better there.
The starting pitching, save for Josh Tomlin, seems to have righted itself, but the offense needs to pick it up, especially against the Tigers.
On this current homestand, here is the number of runs scored by the Indians: 0, 2, 0, 15, 1, 5. It’s tough to win scoring two or fewer runs in four of the six games.
Playing well these next 11 games will put the Cleveland Indians in a very good spot entering the second half of the season, which starts with six games in the Bay Area.
Beating the Tigers is a must if you want to accomplish that.