Going 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position while getting swept is not how the Cleveland Indians wanted to open a critical nine-game stretch. As the Indians head to Detroit for Friday’s opener of a three-game series with the American League Central-leading Tigers, they hope to shake off an offensive malaise that resulted in three frustrating losses at Atlanta. Cleveland sits 6 1/2 games behind Detroit and trails Oakland by four for the second AL wild-card spot.
The Tigers avoided a four-game sweep by the A’s, thanks to Torii Hunter’s three-run walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday. Detroit received a huge scare in the fifth, when Miguel Cabrera - bidding for his second consecutive Triple Crown - left the game after aggravating a left abdominal strain. Cabrera, who leads the AL in batting average and RBIs and is second in homers, is expected to play Friday.
TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, STO (Cleveland), FSN (Detroit)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Zach McAllister (7-7, 3.51 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Rick Porcello (10-7, 4.49)
McAllister has struggled in two starts against the Tigers this season, going 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings versus Detroit on Aug. 8, allowing six runs (five earned) but won his next three outings. McAllister gave up two runs on four hits in 7 1/3 frames to beat Minnesota on Saturday and has held opponents to a .191 average during his three-game winning streak.
Porcello rebounded from a rough performance against Minnesota in his last start Sunday against the New York Mets, getting the victory after allowing three runs on four hits in seven innings. He surrendered five earned runs in the loss to the Twins on Aug. 20, the only time in his last 10 starts Porcello has yielded more than three earned runs. He has held the Indians to a 1.42 ERA in three outings this season, going 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in as many frames.
1. Cleveland's pitching staff has posted a 5.82 ERA against the Tigers this season, a big reason why Detroit leads the season series 13-3.
2. Detroit swept a four-game series Aug. 5-8 at Cleveland, outscoring the Indians 25-11.
3. RHP Brett Myers, who appeared in four games for the Indians in April before being sidelined with elbow problems, was released Thursday.
PREDICTION: Tigers 5, Indians 2