CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians open a seven-game homestand Monday night with the first game of a three-game series against Detroit. The Indians are coming off one of their better road trips in recent years, going 8-2 on a 10-game trip to Detroit, Atlanta and Toronto.
It was an eventful trip to say the least, as the Indians ran their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games, but then got clobbered in the last two games of the trip, losing two in Toronto by a combined score of 26-7. That included a 17-1 walloping on Sunday.
The Indians are still reeling from the last win in their winning streak, a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays in 19 innings on Friday, a game in which manager Terry Francona had to use nine pitchers, including starter Trevor Bauer, who pitched five innings of relief.
That loss left the bullpen in disarray, which contributed to losses the next two days. It got so bad that the final pitcher in Sunday's loss was backup catcher Chris Gimenez.
“We knew there would be repercussions from that game. That's why we wanted to win it so bad,” Francona said of the Indians' 19-inning victory.
“You expend so much energy on your club trying to come away with win. The next thing is to protect your bullpen and we tried do the best we could,” said Francona, who had to use nine pitchers on Friday, five on Saturday and four more on Sunday, plus a catcher being used as a pitcher.
To bolster their overworked bullpen, it seems likely that the Indians will make one or more roster moves prior to Monday's game with the Tigers.
On the bright side for the Indians, their Monday starter will be Danny Salazar, who is 10-3 and leads the American League with a 2.20 ERA. Salazar, the American League Pitcher of the Month in June, is 6-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last six starts.
After winning 14 in a row, the Indians have lost their last two, but in Detroit they will be facing an opponent they have dominated this year. The Indians are 9-0 versus Detroit and have outscored the Tigers 60-20 in those two games.
“We haven't played our best against Cleveland,” Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler told MLB.com. “That's one team. We still have a lot of games to play. We've been playing really good baseball lately.”
In the series opener, the Tigers will start Daniel Norris, who in three appearances (two starts) since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA. In 11 starts at Toledo prior to his recall he was 4-6 with a 4.68 ERA.
The Tigers come to Cleveland riding a six-game winning streak that has allowed them to climb past Kansas City and into second place in the AL Central, 5 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland.
The Tigers haven't lost since getting swept by the Indians in a three-game series in Detroit June 24-26. Prior to that series the Tigers won four in a row, and since that Cleveland sweep the Tigers have won six in a row, sweeping a two-game series with Miami and a four-game series with Tampa Bay.
“We have been streaky so far,” Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander told MLB.com, “but I think we are starting to find ourselves as a team.”
The Indians made a roster move Sunday, optioning pitcher Shawn Morimando to Triple-A Columbus and activating outfielder Abraham Almonte off the restricted list. Almonte is back after receiving an 80-game suspension for performance-enchancing drugs.