Today a great series kicks off on the West coast, the start times are bit excessive, but this is a series not to be missed since this Baseball is truly great considering how the Cleveland Indians have been playing of late. They have had some recent walk-off wins, so many real baseball fans might want to ruin their sleep schedule to stay up and watch this series against the dynamic Oakland Athletics.
The last time the Indians went to the West Coast it was a few hits and misses, They came off a rewarding sweep of the Kansas City Royals early on in June, but then got lukewarm and went 4-3 versus the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels, combined. In their last meeting, Cleveland had a pretty easy three-game sweep, where they outscored their opponent, 19-6. But it’s after that when the wheels came off their rotation, and the pitching staff fell apart early on August.
So both squads will face off again over the next three days, including two nights games and a mid-afternoon competition. Weather could be a factor in Oakland as it could go either way, sunny and nice or a rainy, muggy mess. So the Indians will have to be ready for whatever faces them at Progressive Field. It won’t be hotter than 65 and no rain is forcasted, so they might be in luck.
The pitching matchups over the next three days are interesting. On Monday, Carlos Carrasco (RHP) will pitch against Andrew Triggs (RHP). Tiggs is a 27-year-old rookie who will be trying to make his fourth career start a successful one. The right-hander has a 4.98 ERA and a 3.54 over 43.1 innings this season. In his last two starts Tiggs combined to throw 9.2 innings and allowed four runs off of seven hits. To beat him, the Indians will want Carrasco to dominate the mound. He has not played to his full potential since mid-July, since he’s allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last five starts. In his pitching effort, he seemed a bit off, he had 11 strikeouts and zero walks, but then somehow five runs crossed the plate.
On Tuesday, it will be Danny Salazar (RHP) versus Sean Manaea (LHP). Manaea is another rookie on Oakland’s young pitching staff, and the 24-year-old has been earning his spot, espcially since he is a back-of-the-rotation starter over his first 18 starts. He has a 4.73 ERA and a 4.44 FIP while walking six percent of the batters he faces. He’s struck out batters at a rate of just under 20 percent. He’s given up a lot of home runs this season though (1.47 HR/9), so if he can stop those then his ERA could go down dramatically. Salazar on the other side is a one-time Cy Young contender, but he’s had a lot of lingering elbow troubles for a month now, and no matter what he does, nothing seems to work. He was on the disabled list, but came back quick after missing only two starts.
He looked pretty bad in his last outing, he threw for just one inning and allowed three earned runs off of a hit and three walks. Over six starts since July 1, he’s had an 8.64 ERA and a 5.95 FIP, that’s tough since he is striking out almost 10 batters per nine innings with a 48.8 percent ground ball. It’s Salazar’s walks that are killing him right now.
On Wednesday, Trevor Bauer (RHP) will face off against Kendall Graveman (RHP), the 25-year-old Graveman will pitch for the A’s in the series finale that could be the deciding game since the two teams are well matched. The A’s right-hander has had 24 starts this season and he has a 4.09 ERA and a 4.48 FIP. He’s not a pitcher that can strike out many batters, but he has a 51.6 percent career ground ball rate and that’s effective with a strong infield. Bauer has been up-and-down all season too, but he has played better in recent games and his last start was brilliant. He made an eight-inning effort where he struck out 13 and walked just two against the Toronto Blue Jays hot batters. That was Bauer’s third double-digit strikeout game of the season, but his first since June 22, so he’s got to aim for that number again because he’s capable.
So pitching should determine this series and since the match ups are pretty even on both positive and negative notes, it will be a hard series for either team to sweep. We’ll go with the Athletics taking 2 games of the 3 series with close scores, and the final game on Wednesday should be the decider.