Series preview: (Angry?) Tigers vs. Indians
A month and a half has passed since the Tigers were swept out of Cleveland the first week of May. They’ve moved on since then. They’re probably remembering now.
“Next time we play Cleveland, we understand that they’ve won six in a row on us,” Ian Kinsler said at the time. “I think everybody in here knows that. So whatever you need to do to get ready to play those guys the next time we face them, then guys are going to be ready to play. …
“We’re a veteran team. We have a lot of experience. We understand what just happened. It’s not something that we concern ourselves with after the fact. You have to be ready to play these guys the next time they’re in town. We know them well, they know us well, and we’ll be ready the next time they’re in town.”
Well, here they are.
Normally, Brad Ausmus doesn’t make much about individual opponents. No series is bigger than another until the stretch run, and there’s no sense of having to beat an opponent or make a statement.
The Indians, having beaten the Tigers six times in as many games this season, are an exception. And the normally stoic Ausmus is looking for a little emotion out of his guys as they meet up for a three-game series starting tonight at Comerica Park.
“They’ve kind of whooped us, quite frankly,” Ausmus said, “and they’re throwing three guys at us that have pitched pretty well against us, too. But we’re throwing a couple of our horses at them as well. We’ve gotta find a way to win.
“I hope that the guys in this clubhouse are a little ticked that we haven’t beat them yet, and they have a little extra fire in their belly when we play them this weekend.”
The Tigers were coming off the emotional high of sweeping the Mariners, Detroit’s first four-game sweep against any team since 2012, so it was hard to tell the belly status. But they were very aware of their struggles against the Tribe.
“We didn’t play as well as we think we should’ve against those guys,” Justin Upton said. “We have to go out and play the way we’ve been playing the last few days and try to take care of business.”
Scene-setter: Resurgent Tigers, who have won four in a row with sweep of Seattle, seek revenge against Tribe, which has won six in a row, while also looking to gain ground on first place, currently four games out.
Season series: Cleveland has won all six games against Detroit this season, outscoring the Tigers by a 38-12 margin. Tribe starters are 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA in the six games. After this weekend series, the two teams will meet again for three games in Cleveland July 4-6.
- Friday: Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 3.24) vs. Danny Salazar (8-3, 2.23)
- Saturday: Anibal Sanchez (4-7, 5.97) vs. Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.26)
- Sunday: Justin Verlander (7-5, 3.78) vs. Josh Tomlin (8-1, 3.32)
Key matchups: While Cleveland starters have ruled the Tigers so far this season, Salazar hasn’t been among them. He hasn’t faced Detroit since last year, when he went 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA in five meetings. Miguel Cabrera, 3-for-17 with no extra-base hits against Cleveland so far this year, is 9-for-26 lifetime off Salazar, including 4-for-13 last year. … Considering how most of Justin Upton’s first two months as a Tiger went, his 5-for-20 splits with three doubles against the Indians this year don’t look bad. He’s heating up, batting 21-for-71 (.296) with nine walks, 10 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs over his last 18 games, good for a .974 OPS. … Anibal Sanchez lost twice against the Indians this year, including a third-inning exit at Comerica Park on April 23. He starts Saturday in what’s shaping up as an audition to pitch in the rotation again.
Just so you know: Cleveland hasn’t won more than four games in Detroit in a season since 2008, when the Indians took five of nine. That’s also the last year the Tribe won more than 10 games from the Tigers overall, going 11-7.
Familiar faces: Rajai Davis is making the most of regular playing time in Cleveland’s outfield, batting .313 (20-for-64) with three doubles, two homers and 11 runs scored in June. He’s also 10-for-10 in stolen bases for the month, and 16-for-16 since Kyle Ryan picked him off here on April 23. … Joba Chamberlain has a 2.20 ERA in 17 appearances, allowing eight hits over 16 1/3 innings with seven walks and 17 strikeouts. … Tom Gorzelanny has tossed two hitless innings over four appearances since June 1, walking one and striking out two.