Show must go on despite frigid temps in Cleveland

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians are still struggling offensively. The weather is still not conducive to baseball. But the Indians will nevertheless host the Detroit Tigers on Monday night at Progressive Field in the opener of a four-game series.

The game-time temperature Sunday, in the Indians’ 3-1 win over Kansas City, was 32 degrees, making it the coldest game-time temperature in the history of Progressive Field, which opened in 1994.

The forecast for Monday isn’t much better, but the show must go on. The Indians are scheduled to play home games in each of the next seven days.

“As long as you’re not putting guys at risk, you’ve got to try and play the games,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

In the three-game series with Kansas City that ended Sunday, the Progressive Field temperature was 41, 34 and 32 degrees.

“When it’s cold, every single at-bat is like an event,” Francona said. “They’ve got their bat handle in front of the fire, they’re trying to warm up their hands, and it’s just really hard to get any carry-over momentum going.”

That’s reflective in the scores of the last three games at Progressive Field: 3-2, 1-0 and 3-1.

The Indians will be without right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday with a strained right calf, the same injury that caused him to spend two months on the disabled list last year. Francona said Chisenhall is expected to miss about four to six weeks.

To replace Chisenhall on the roster, the Indians recalled outfielder Tyler Naquin, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, and was on his way back to Cleveland on Sunday.

“He’s going to get a chance to play, and he’s played here before and helped us win before,” Francona said. “So it’s a nice opportunity for him.”

Naquin was in the starting lineup Sunday, playing right field. He is 3-for-14 (.214) in six games with the Indians.

The pitching matchup Monday will be Detroit left-hander Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (0-1, 2.40).

Liriano will be making his second start of the season. His first was a 6-1 win over Kansas City on April 2 in which he pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run and four hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

Liriano, pitching for Toronto, made one start against the Indians last year, and it was a disaster. In two innings, he gave up seven runs, five hits and three walks. In 20 career appearances, 15 of them starts, against the Indians, the 34-year-old Liriano is 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA.

Kluber will be making his third start of the season. He pitched well in his first two starts but didn’t win either game as the Indians only scored a total of three runs. Last year, Kluber made five starts against Detroit and was 3-1 with a 3.73 ERA. In 22 career appearances against the Tigers, he is 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA.

The Indians’ .159 team batting average is the lowest in the American League, and nobody is struggling more than Jose Ramirez, who finished third in the American League MVP voting last year, but is hitting just .061 through nine games this year.

“I think he’s a little bit irritated that he’s (started slow), because he’s so good,” Francona said. “But I think he’ll be just fine. He’s a really good hitter. Team-wide, we’re not where we want to be.”