Indians, Giants look for improvement in interleague play (Jul 18, 2017)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Cleveland Indians will seek to clinch their first series win in interleague play this season when they face the San Francisco Giants in the middle game of a three-game set Tuesday.

The Indians took the upper hand Monday, winning 5-3 behind the strong pitching of right-hander Josh Tomlin and two Giants errors that led to two unearned runs.

San Francisco had committed just three errors in its previous 12 games.

The series pits two of baseball’s worst clubs in interleague play this season. Neither has won an interleague series.

The Indians, the majors’ losingest team in interleague play this year with a 4-11 record, have a chance to end that drought Tuesday against a Giants club that saw its record against American League competition this season fall to 3-8 on Monday.

A pair of young pitchers will be facing their opponent for the first time Tuesday when Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger (5-3, 3.00 ERA) duels Giants lefty Ty Blach (6-5, 4.60).

Neither has fared well in previous interleague starts.

Clevinger is 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA in two career starts against National League foes. He took the loss in an 11-3 drubbing at Colorado on June 6 in his only previous interleague start this season, allowing five runs and four hits in four innings.

He contributed to an 8-7 win at Cincinnati in his major league debut in May 2016, giving up four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision.

Clevinger will be pitching for an Indians team that hopes it reversed recent poor fortunes with the Monday win.

“It’s good to get back to playing our style of baseball,” Tomlin said after the Indians snapped a four-game losing streak that included three defeats in Oakland over the weekend. “We took advantage of (the Giants’) mistakes. That’s kind of what we’ve done in the past.”

Blach will be starting in Johnny Cueto’s spot in the San Francisco rotation after getting the call on 14 previous occasions as Madison Bumgarner’s injury replacement.

The 26-year-old is coming off a win in interleague play, having allowed three runs and six hits in six innings in a 5-4 win at Detroit on July 5.

Blach had two previous interleague outings this season against the Kansas City Royals, including two-thirds of an inning of hitless relief in a 2-1 win on April 18.

He later started against the Royals at home on June 13, getting bombed to the tune of seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in an 8-1 defeat.

The rookie will have to deal with hot-hitting Indians second baseman Francisco Lindor, whose three-hit performance Monday in the series opener followed a four-hit game Sunday against the A’s.

It wasn’t the Indians’ hits as much as the Giants’ miscues that cost San Francisco in the opener of a 10-game homestand.

“It’s always tough to lose,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the loss, his club’s 14th in its past 18 home games. “You hate to shoot yourself in the foot, which we did.”

Clearly, Giants fans have gotten tired of watching it. The announced crowd of 39,538 on Monday wasn’t a sellout, the first time that happened at AT&T Park since 2010.

The Giants had an NL-record, 530-game sellout streak snapped. Only a 794-game run at Fenway Park in Boston (2003-2013) was longer in major league history.

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