CLEVELAND INDIANS (6-7)
at DETROIT TIGERS (6-4)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -145, Cleveland +135, Total: 8
After being rained out on Tuesday, the Indians and Tigers will try again to open what is now a short two-game series on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
These two clubs were expected to compete for the AL Central Division crown, but both have been playing poorly recently. Cleveland has dropped four of its past five games while Detroit has lost four of six. The Indians offense has come alive with 21 runs over the past three games, but the pitching allowed the White Sox to plate 26 runs in the four-game set to open this six-game road trip. The Tigers have scored two runs or less in each of their four losses during the past six contests, but have held opponents to 4.2 runs per game during this timeframe. Cleveland will turn to right-hander Zach McAllister (1-0, 2.31 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) to get back in the win column, while Detroit counters with veteran right-hander Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP). The Tigers have had the leg up in this series over the previous two seasons with a 23-14 advantage (.622), including 11-7 at home (.611). The Indians, which should get a boost with starting CF Michael Bourn just activated from the DL, is an impressive 50-22 (.694) versus AL teams scoring 4.2 or less runs per game in the past two seasons. But Detroit is 76-56 (.576) when the total is 8 or 8.5 over the past three years.
Zach McAllister started his season off shaky in Oakland (4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K's), but pitched brilliantly last Wednesday versus San Diego. In that outing, he blanked the Padres for 7.2 innings, allowing just five hits and zero walks with seven strikeouts. But McAllister has not done well in this divisional series in his career, going 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA and 1.85 WHIP over six starts, where his team has gone 3-3. The last time McAllister took the ball at Comerica Park on Aug. 30, 2013, he was absolutely battered. The right-hander lasted just 3.2 innings, surrendering 10 base-runners and five runs in that 7-2 loss. Three Detroit hitters that really have his number are DH Victor Martinez (5-for-9, 5 RBI, 3 doubles), OF Austin Jackson (5-for-10, 2 RBI) and 1B Miguel Cabrera (4-for-13, 1 RBI). If McAllister gets into trouble early, Cleveland won't hesitate to go to a well-rested bullpen that hasn't pitched since Sunday, and is 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 52 K's in 44 innings this season. Indians relievers have been a bit wild though, with 26 walks leading to a 1.32 WHIP, and closer John Axford yielded a two-run walk-off homer to Alexei Ramirez in Sunday's defeat.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez has not been able to pitch deep into his first two starts, tallying only nine innings where he's allowed five runs (3 ERA) on eight hits and four walks with nine strikeouts. But the team is counting on him to throw 7+ innings on Wednesday based on his past history in this series. In seven career starts versus Cleveland, Sanchez is 4-1 (team 5-2) with a 2.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a 4.2 K-to-BB ratio (38 K's, 9 BB). Last season he faced the Indians three times, leading his team to a victory in all three starts with a 2.79 ERA and miniscule 0.88 WHIP, as he allowed just 17 base-runners over 19.1 innings while fanning 20. Eight different Indians have more than 10 career plate appearances versus the right-hander, but reserve DH Jason Giambi (.308 BA, 3 RBI in 14 PA) is the only player hitting above .300 off Sanchez. 1B Nick Swisher (1-for-9, 5 K's), 2B Jason Kipnis (3-for-17, 6 K's) and 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (2-for-10, 2 K's) have had the most trouble hitting Sanchez. Another reason the team wants its right-hander to pitch a lot of innings is because the Detroit bullpen is weak, tallying a 4.94 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 27.1 innings this season. These numbers are even worse at home (6.08 ERA, 1.65 WHIP).