Tigers aim for first series win in Cleveland since June 2015

CLEVELAND — Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco will be the starting pitcher Sunday as the Indians and Detroit Tigers play the final game of the their three-game series. The two teams have split the first two games.

For Carrasco (1-0, 2.13), the start will be a reminder of the last time he pitched against the Tigers. It was a start that ended Carrasco’s 2016 season. On Sept. 17 of last year, Carrasco’s second pitch of the game was lined back to the mound by Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler.

The ball hit Carrasco in his right hand, breaking his hand and ending his season, just as the Indians were on the verge of clinching the Central Division, and beginning a postseason journey that would end in the seventh game of the World Series.

The Indians made it all the way to the final game of the World Series without Carrasco, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t miss him. He had an outstanding season, and was one of the better starting pitchers in the American League. In 25 starts, Carrasco was 11-8 with a 3.32 ERA. Despite pitching just 146 innings due to injuries, he still finished fifth in the American League in strikeouts with 216.

Carrasco’s recent past against the Tigers has been much better, even with that broken hand, than his overall history against Detroit. In four starts against the Tigers last year, he was 2-0 with a 0.51 ERA. However, in 19 career appearances against Detroit, 14 of them starts, he is a more modest 6-6 with a 4.95 ERA.

Carrasco’s mound opponent Sunday will be Matthew Boyd (1-1, 5.40). It will be Boyd’s first career start against Cleveland. His only appearance against the Indians came on April 24, 2016, when he threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, with two hits allowed, three walks and two strikeouts.

The Indians go into Sunday’s game hoping that their slumbering hitters can sustain the life and production they showed Saturday when they erupted for 19 hits, including four home runs, in a 13-6 victory.

The leader of that assault was second baseman Jose Ramirez, who is the hottest Indians hitter at the moment. Ramirez was 4-for-4, with two home runs and a career-high six RBIs. In his last six at-bats over the last two games, Ramirez is 6-for-6 with two homers and seven RBIs.

“He took good swings all over the ballpark, and as he learns the league more, he’ll do even more damage,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

“He’s a very good offensive player,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “A lot of people don’t know who he is, but everyone in the Central Division knows.”

The Indians’ other hot hitter is shortstop Francisco Lindor, who had three more hits Saturday, has a nine-game hitting streak, and is batting .349 overall.

With the left-hander Boyd starting for the Tigers, Francona will likely start right-handed hitting Austin Jackson in center field in place of the left-handed hitting Lonnie Chisenhall.

The Tigers, meanwhile, will attempt to win a series in Cleveland for the first time since June 22-24, 2015. Detroit has lost each of its last four series at Progressive Field, and their .222 (4-14) winning percentage against Cleveland last year was their third worst in any season vs. the Indians.