The Cleveland Indians continued their improbable run for a
playoff spot over the weekend. To extend their surge, they’ll have
to win in the toughest stadium for opponents in the major
The Atlanta Braves, however, haven’t been at their best since
Jason Heyward was lost to a broken jaw, and they’ll be looking to
put a rough stretch behind them when these teams open a three-game
series at Turner Field on Tuesday night.
Cleveland (71-59) beat Minnesota 3-1 on Sunday for its fifth win
in six games and ninth in 13 since a six-game skid that seemed to
signal the end of its playoff hopes. The Indians committed four
errors and made several other mistakes in the field and on the
bases, but Drew Stubbs hit a tiebreaking two-out homer in the
“We were trying every way we could to give it away,” Stubbs
said. “We played a very sloppy game, but it says a lot about this
team that we were able to hang in there and pull out the win.”
Locked in a tight battle for a wild-card spot and within
striking distance of the AL Central lead, Cleveland hasn’t been
fazed by this road-heavy stretch in which it plays 15 of 18 away
from home, going 6-3 in road games so far.
That prowess in opposing stadiums should be tested as Atlanta’s
44-18 record at Turner Field is the best in baseball. The Braves’
78-52 mark is also tops in the majors and has them 13 games up in
the NL East.
Plus, they’ll send out a red-hot rookie to open the set, with
Alex Wood (2-2, 2.50 ERA) looking for a fifth straight outstanding
start. Wood has posted a 1.11 ERA in going 1-0 in four August
starts, not allowing more than one run in any of them.
The left-hander went six innings and gave up one run in a 4-1,
10-inning victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday.
That game, however, also saw Heyward get injured on a pitch from
the Mets’ Jonathan Niese, and his team appeared to feel the effects
of his possible loss for the season in the next series. Among the
top three in the NL in runs, the Braves scored five times in
dropping three straight to St. Louis before avoiding the sweep with
a 5-2 win Sunday.
“You don’t want to get swept especially by a team that’s a
playoff team that you have the potential of seeing,” said
outfielder Jordan Schafer, who broke out of a slump by going 2 for
4 with a double, triple and an RBI. “You don’t want them to have
confidence if you face them in the playoffs.”
Atlanta opens a nine-game homestand by facing Danny Salazar
(1-1, 3.52), like Wood a rookie who has put together some
impressive performances. The right-hander gave up one run in 5 1-3
innings of a 4-1, 14-inning win over the Los Angeles Angels on
Tuesday in his fourth career start.
He struck out seven, giving him 29 in 23 innings, and allowed
three hits. Salazar has given up 15 hits in his four outings.
First baseman Nick Swisher continued his roll Sunday, going 2
for 3 to leave him at 13 for 43 (.302) with three home runs and
nine RBIs in his last 10 games. He has gone hitless once in that
Cleveland has posted a 1.83 ERA in the past six contests.