Kluber faces Tigers in Indians’ bid for 20 in a row (Sep 12, 2017)
CLEVELAND — The streaking Cleveland Indians hope to make even more history on Tuesday night.
The Indians will host the Detroit Tigers in the second game of a three-game series, and Cleveland enters with a 19-game winning streak.
That ties the Indians with the 1906 Chicago White Sox and the 1947 New York Yankees for the fourth-longest run in the major leagues since 1900, according to STATS.
The 1916 New York Giants hold the record at 26 straight. The 1935 Chicago Cubs won 21 in a row. The 2002 Oakland A’s had a 20-game winning streak — the American League mark that Cleveland will attempt to match.
Indians manager Terry Francona, whose team has outscored the opposition by 100 runs during the streak (132-32), refuses to think big picture.
“Our message has been consistent. Show up and try to outplay them today,” Francona said. “We try to stay in the moment. Play the game at hand, then turn the page, because there’s another game tomorrow. I really feel that’s the best way to do it.”
Playing the Indians these days is no fun. Take it from Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
“Their starting pitching, their bullpen, they are athletic, their lineup, with all those switch hitters, and they’ve still got some important guys down with injuries,” Ausmus said. “They’re extremely well balanced. But the pitching is probably the biggest piece. They are a very good team.”
During the winning streak, Cleveland starting pitchers are 17-0 with a 1.84 ERA.
The Indians have the best record in the American League despite another year of numerous injuries to key players. The latest is center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a broken bone in his left hand. Zimmer will have surgery on Tuesday, and there is no timetable for his return.
Francona said one of the options being considered as a replacement for Zimmer in center field is second baseman Jason Kipnis, who could be activated off the disabled list this week. Kipnis has played second base exclusively in his major league career, but he did play some outfield for Arizona State.
Kipnis has been out since Aug. 23 due to a right hamstring strain.
“He’s going to work with (outfield coach Brad Mills), and if he’s comfortable with it, we may play him out there, just to see how he does,” Francona said. “It’s not a lock, but he’s willing to try. He’s excited to try it.”
On Monday, Cleveland recalled Greg Allen from Double-A Akron as part of its September roster expansion, and he started in center, gong 1-for-4. Francona’s other options would be Austin Jackson and Tyler Naquin.
The Indians will go with their ace, Corey Kluber, on Tuesday night. He is 15-4 and leads the American League with a 2.56 ERA.
Kluber has been great all year, but particularly since returning from the disabled list on June 1. He missed most of May due to a strained lower back.
In 19 starts since his return, Kluber is 12-2 with a 1.89 ERA. In 138 1/3 innings over that span, he has 194 strikeouts, 21 walks and an opponents’ batting average of .171. Kluber’s ERA in the two games he lost in that span was 1.72.
The Tigers, however, have held their own against Kluber. In four starts against Detroit this year, Kluber is 2-1 with a 5.24 ERA, which is his highest ERA against any opponent this year. In 21 career appearances against the Tigers, Kluber is 7-7 with a 4.26 ERA.
Detroit will start left-hander Matt Boyd, who is 5-9 with a 5.93 ERA, but the Indians appear to be one of his preferred opponents. In three starts against Cleveland this year, Boyd is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA. In 19 appearances against all other opponents, he has a 6.65 ERA.
In four career outings (three starts) vs. the Indians, Boyd is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA.