Indians-Reds Preview

The Cleveland Indians had the best record in baseball after

their first matchup of the season with the Cincinnati Reds. They’ll

be happy just to have the top record in their division following

the next one.

The Indians have struggled since sweeping the Reds in May, and

they’ll look to get back on track with another strong performance

against their in-state rivals beginning Friday night.

Cleveland opened 30-15, with three of the wins coming in a home

sweep of Cincinnati from May 20-22. The Indians followed that

series by rallying for a 3-2 win over Boston in a nationally

televised game, but they but haven’t been ready for prime time

since, going 12-22.

Despite those struggles, Cleveland (42-37) is battling Detroit

for the AL Central lead.

The Indians will try to build on a strong finish to their

six-game road trip. After getting swept by San Francisco, they took

two of three from Arizona, getting 15 hits in a 6-2 victory

Wednesday.

Orlando Cabrera had a season-high four hits and is 8 for 14 with

three doubles over his last four contests.

Asdrubal Cabrera has gone 7 for 17 with four RBIs during that

same stretch. The shortstop had a career-high five hits, two homers

and five RBIs during the May 22 finale against the Reds, a 12-4

victory.

The Indians have dropped eight of 10 at Great American Ball

Park. Cincinnati is 5-10 in interleague play, though it did take

two of three on the road from Tampa Bay in its last series.

After missing three games because of a sore lat muscle, catcher

Ryan Hanigan hit a three-run homer to give the Reds a 4-3 victory

Wednesday.

“Hopefully, I think we’re closer,” Hanigan said. “We’re starting

to play better baseball. I think guys are upbeat. I think if a few

things go right for us we can make a little push here.”

The Reds (42-40) will try to get a few more key hits to help

Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 5.01 ERA) win a fourth consecutive start.

The right-hander gave up five runs on four homers over 6 1-3

innings at Baltimore on Saturday, but Cincinnati won 10-5. Arroyo

had a three-start win streak against the Indians snapped with a 5-3

home loss June 27, 2010, when he gave up four runs in five

innings.

Cleveland’s Justin Masterson (5-6, 2.98) will be hoping his

teammates score some runs for him as he looks to snap an 11-start

winless drought. The right-hander has posted a 3.34 ERA during that

span but has received eight total runs of support.

Masterson gave up one unearned run in 6 2-3 innings against the

Giants on Saturday but suffered a 1-0 defeat.

“We know how good he’s pitching. The numbers are there,” manager

Manny Acta told the team’s website. “We don’t grade these guys or

pay that much attention to wins and losses because we know there’s

only so much they can do.”

Masterson is 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts against the Reds

but hasn’t faced them this year.

Chris Perez saved two of Cleveland’s wins over Cincinnati in

May, but the closer won’t be available at the start of this series

after being put on the bereavement list following the death of his

grandmother.