Heading into this season, it seemed highly unlikely that Texas’
four-game set in Cleveland this weekend would have the makings of a
potential postseason preview.
That will be the case, however, as the Rangers look to continue
their recent success against the Indians on Thursday night in the
opener between these division leaders.
While it’s hardly a shock for the reigning AL champion Rangers
(30-26) to have a 1 1/2-game lead in the West, it’s a major
surprise for a Cleveland club that failed to win 70 games each of
the last two seasons to hold a five-game cushion atop the Central
with an AL-best 33-20 record.
“They are a bunch of young guys that (manager) Manny Acta is
just letting play and do what they do,” Rangers manager Ron
Washington told the team’s official website. “They beat you a lot
of ways – stealing bags, beating you with the long ball, beating
you on the mound. They are playing well together.”
Cleveland has proved Washington right by winning the last two of
a three-game set in Toronto to conclude a 3-3 trip.
“I’m pretty happy with the way the guys bounced back and took
two out of three here,”Acta said.
After breaking out for 18 hits in a 13-9 win over the Blue Jays
on Thursday, the Indians try to avoid a season-high third
consecutive loss at Progressive Field.
Cleveland is 19-6 at home, but has lost 11 of 15 against the
Rangers at Progressive. The Indians snapped a seven-game home skid
versus the Rangers last season and are just 3-12 overall versus
Texas since the start of the 2009 season.
Their challenge this weekend does not get any easier against a
Texas club that has won seven of 10.
Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 4.91 ERA) looks to win his fourth
consecutive start for Cleveland in this contest. Though the
right-hander has a modest 4.15 ERA his last three outings, his
teammates have totaled 26 runs during that stretch.
Carrasco allowed two runs in six innings of a 7-3 win at Tampa
Bay on Saturday.
“I put too much pressure on myself and I really need to just
throw a lot of innings,” Carrasco told the team’s official website.
“For me, the focus is to keep the team winning.”
Carrasco will take that same approach into his first start
against the Rangers since he allowed five runs in five innings and
did not factor in the decision of an 11-9 home loss Sept. 8,
Nelson Cruz is 0 for 2 with a walk and two strikeouts versus
Carrasco, but went 3 for 4 with a RBI in the Rangers’ 3-0 win at
Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The All-Star is batting .429 with four RBIs
his last five games.
Veteran Dave Bush (0-1, 4.43) will make his third spot start of
the season for the Rangers on Thursday in place of Matt Harrison,
who was scratched because of a blister.
The right-hander has not factored in the decision of his
previous two 2011 starts but has 2.57 ERA in those outings. In his
most recent start, Bush allowed three runs in four innings of a
12-5 loss to the Yankees on May 8.
Bush has never faced Asdrubal Cabrera, who went 4 for 6 with
three doubles and three RBIs on Thursday.
The Indians shortstop is batting .333 with six of his
career-high 10 home runs at Progressive Field this season. Cabrera
had 18 homers in 1,415 at-bats in his previous four seasons