CLEVELAND — The Battle of Ohio will be renewed Monday night at Progressive Field as the Cleveland Indians host the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
That may not be good news for the Reds. Since 2002, the Reds’ .317 winning percentage (13-28) at Progressive Field is their lowest at any current road ballpark (minimum of 40 games played).
The pitching matchup will feature two right-handers, Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani (3-1, 5.08 ERA) vs. Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger (3-1, 5.08). It will be just the seventh start of the season for DeSclafani, who began the season on the 60-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.
DeSclafani’s last start came July 3, a 12-8 Reds loss to the Chicago White Sox in which DeSclafani got a no-decision after giving up five runs and six hits with five strikeouts and one walk in 5 1/3 innings.
DeSclafani was activated off the disabled list on June 5 and lost his first start, but in five starts since then he is 3-0 with a 4.71 ERA. He has two career starts against Cleveland and is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA. In seven career starts in interleague games, DeSclafani is 1-2 with a 5.18 ERA.
Clevinger has had a solid first half of the season as the No. 4 starter in the Indians’ rotation. His last start was a 15-3 win over Oakland on July 1. In that game, Clevinger pitched six innings, allowing three runs and eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks. In his last seven starts, Clevinger is 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA.
Monday will be Clevinger’s second career start against Cincinnati. His first start against the Reds came in his major league debut on May 18, 2016, in Cincinnati, an 8-7 Indians win. Clevinger pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs and five hits with five strikeouts and one walk. He did not figure in the decision.
Clevinger has made one interleague start this year, a 4-0 loss to St. Louis on June 25 in which he worked five innings, allowing two runs and six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. In four career interleague starts, he’s 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA.
The Indians are in the middle of a 10-game homestand against Oakland, Cincinnati and the New York Yankees. The Indians, who had a five-game winning streak snapped by the A’s on Saturday, have lost their last two games.
The Indians are getting big years from the hitters at the top of their lineup, including veteran left fielder Michael Brantley, who after two injury-plagued seasons is having a solid, All-Star caliber 2018 season.
Brantley ranks in the top 10 in the American League in hitting at .306. In May, he had a 19-game hitting streak that is the longest in the majors this season. He’s hitting .322 against right-handed pitching and .357 at Progressive Field.
“As long as he’s healthy, you wind him up and let him go play,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s very special. Part of what makes my job so fun is when you get to manage guys like him.”
After a rough start to the 2018 season, the Reds have played better since changing managers on April 19, when Jim Riggleman took over for Bryan Price. The Reds were 3-15 under Price. They are 36-36 under Riggleman, and since June 10 they are 17-8.