CLEVELAND — After making a surprise appearance last night as a pinch hitter, Michael Brantley will return to the starting lineup tonight when the Indians host the Tigers in the second of a three-game series at Progressive Field.
Brantley, who had missed two games due to a concussion, ran the bases and took batting practice on Friday before being cleared by doctors to return to action. Francona heard that Brantley was cleared during the third inning. Brantley got a single in the ninth inning to extend his hitting streak to nine games.
“He means so much to what we’re doing. All the way around, defensively, teammate wise he’s really turned himself into one of the top players in the game,” Francona said.
With Brantley back, three of the top six hitters in the American League will be playing. Victor Martinez, who had a two-run homer in Detroit’s 6-4 win on Friday, is third at .328, Brantley is fourth (.326) and Miguel Cabrera sixth (.318).
Tonight’s game will be on Fox but Indians Live will be on SportsTime Ohio at 6 p.m. with coverage of the Indians Hall of Fame ceremony honoring Omar Vizquel.
Here is a look at what else to watch in the game:
Lonnie Baseball: After going through an 0-for-13 stretch last week, Lonnis Chisenhall has a hit in three straight games and has gone 4 for 10. He has a hit in all six games he has faced Detroit, going 11 for 21 with two doubles, a home run and two RBI.
Continuing to surge: Carlos Santana is 16 for 46 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 14 games since coming off the disabled list. He had a solo home run last night and has raised his average to .196.
Hot on the weekend: The Indians have won six straight and seven of their last eight games played on Saturday or Sunday.
Bauer on the hill: Trevor Bauer (2-3, 4.20) makes his fifth start of the season. The right-hander threw 119 pitches in a 4-3 win over the Angels on Monday, which is the most by an Indians starter this season. In his lone start against the Tigers, Bauer got the win, going six innings while allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Struggling Verlander: Justin Verlander (6-7, 4.98) has been among the league leaders in a variety of statistics for many seasons but there is one this year that he wishes he wasn’t. The Tigers’ right-hander has the third-highest ERA in the A.L. among pitchers who have made 14 or more starts. In two starts against the Indians this season, Verlander is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA. This is Verlander’s 38th career start against the Tribe. He is 18-15 with a 4.37 ERA but is 9-11 with a 5.36 ERA in games at Progressive Field.
On a roll: J.D. Martinez has a 10-game hitting streak. During that span, he is hitting .447 (17 for 38) with six runs scored, four home runs (including a three-run shot last night) and 11 RBI. The hitting streak for Martinez is the longest in his career and is tied for the longest active hitting streak in the American League.
Terrorizing former team: Victor Martinez is hitting .366 against the Indians, which leads all active players. He has recorded at least one hit in 18 of his last 20 games versus Cleveland and has nine multi-hit games in that stretch.
Indians vs. Verlander: Nick Swisher 15-76, 3 HR; Asdurbal Cabrera 14-60; Michael Brantley 17-45; Carlos Santana 7-37, 3 HR; David Murphy 9-28; Jason Kipnis 3-26; Michael Bourn 10-24; Mike Aviles 6-26; Lonnie Chisenhall 6-18; Yan Gomes 2-8; Ryan Raburn 1-6; George Kottaras 0-3.
Tigers vs. Bauer: Alex Avila 2-2, HR; Miguel Cabrera 1-3; Nick Castellanos 0-3; Torii Hunter 1-3, HR; Austin Jackson 0-2; Ian Kinsler 2-3; Victor Martinez 0-2; Rajai Davis 0-2.