(Sports Network) - A pair of playoff hopefuls are set to square off at
Progressive Field on Friday, as the Cleveland Indians host the Texas Rangers
in the opener of a three-game set.
Both teams entered the day in second place in their respective divisions.
Cleveland (53-48) trails the Detroit Tigers by three games in the American
League Central, while Texas (56-46) sits three games back of the Oakland
Athletics in the AL West. The Rangers are also a half-game out in the race for
the league's final wild card spot.
Cleveland just wrapped up a 2-4 road trip against two teams with losing
records. After dropping two of three at Minnesota last weekend, the Indians
staved off a three-game sweep at Seattle by winning Wednesday's series finale,
10-1. Overall, the Tribe committed nine errors on the six-game trip, including
four in four games by third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.
Scott Kazmir yielded only one hit in eight innings in Wednesday's victory,
continuing a trend of strong pitching during the team's recent, albeit
unsuccessful, road trip. Kazmir also fanned seven batters. Michael Bourn
sparked the offense with his first career grand slam in the fifth inning,
while Asdrubal Cabrera drove in three runs and scored four times to help the
Tribe snap Seattle's eight-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, Texas has lost nine of 12, although two of those victories came
against the New York Yankees this week as the teams split a four-game series.
The Rangers are coming off Thursday's 2-0 loss to the Yankees. The offense
managed only six singles through seven innings against Yankees starter Hiroki
On a positive note, shortstop Elvis Andrus, after struggling throughout much
of the season's first half, has hit safely in all seven games since the All-
Star break (9-for-25). Andrus was recently moved back to the No. 2 spot in the
"Now in the second half, I feel way better," Andrus said. "I feel my approach
is back. I feel comfortable having a plan, and now I can execute it."
The Rangers will turn to Martin Perez, who has posted a 3.40 in seven starts
this season. However, the left-hander has lost each of his last two outings,
the most recent of which came at home against Baltimore this past Sunday.
Perez was tagged for four earned runs on nine hits and exited after 6 1/3
For Cleveland, Corey Kluber has won four of his last five decisions but left
his last start after five scoreless innings due to tightness in his left hip
area. The good news for Twins fans is that Kluber was able to pitch through
the discomfort, as he allowed only three hits and struck out seven.
"It's a little sore still, but nothing that's to the same extent as (Saturday)
night," Kluber said on Sunday, the day after he faced the Twins. "It's
something I can pitch through. (Coming out of the game) was just a
Kluber, who is unbeaten with a 1.52 ERA in his last five home starts, elicited
high praise from manager Terry Francona.
"We're trying to fight it out in this division with guys like Corey and we're
excited about it," Francona said. "He's getting better, it seems like, almost
every start, whether he's learning something or gaining experience. And, in
the meantime, he's winning games."
Cleveland won two of three against the Rangers earlier this season and is 13-4
against the AL West.
The Sports Network