The Indians will look to maintain their mastery of the slumping Detroit Tigers on Friday when the American League Central rivals open a three-game series in Cleveland.
The Indians have won a staggering 20 consecutive contests against the Tigers, including a three-game sweep last weekend in which they erupted for 21 runs.
Should Cleveland bring out the brooms yet again this weekend, it would tie the Baltimore Orioles’ major league record of 23 consecutive wins over the Kansas City Royals in 1969 and ’70.
The Indians followed up their sweep of Detroit with another one against Pittsburgh, scoring six runs in the first two contests before registering a majors-best fifth shutout with a 2-0 victory on Thursday.
“It’s amazing. Our team is awesome,” said Beau Taylor, whose first hit with Cleveland was an RBI single in the second inning. “The chemistry with our team is awesome. Despite all the stuff that’s going on with COVID-19 and we’re supposed to be social distancing, we’re doing our job and still having fun.”
While the Indians have ascended on the strength of winning 11 of their last 14 games, the Tigers have tumbled in the other direction with nine straight losses.
“We’re not scoring runs and our starters are going one or two or three innings,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said after a 9-0 setback to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. “We have a lot to worry about right now. It’s not much fun.”
Miguel Cabrera isn’t having much fun either. The two-time AL MVP and 11-time All-Star went 0-for-4 for the second straight game to drop his batting average to .181. He is 2-for-12 with three strikeouts against Cleveland this season.
“Like I’ve said, I try not to worry about that guy. He can hit,” Gardenhire said. “He’s barreling some balls up. He’s fine. I’m not going to worry about him. We have a lot of other things (to worry about).”
Jeimer Candelario recorded two hits for the second straight game in the series finale against the White Sox and had a pair of two-hit performances in last weekend’s set against the Indians.
Candelario, Cabrera and company will look to solve Cleveland’s Adam Plutko (1-1, 3.95 ERA), who has made two starts in place of fellow right-hander Mike Clevinger. Plutko tossed four innings and gave up one run in a loss versus the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 11 and allowed three runs in 2 2/3 frames against Detroit five nights later.
Plutko, 28, sports a 4-0 record with a 4.54 ERA in nine career appearances (six starts) versus the Tigers.
Detroit right-hander Michael Fulmer (0-0, 7.56) will look to avenge a poor start against Cleveland in his last outing when he takes the mound on Friday.
Fulmer, 27, surrendered two homers and three runs total in 2 2/3 innings of a no-decision on Sunday. Francisco Lindor, who joined Franmil Reyes in going deep in that contest, is 8-for-20 with three homers and seven RBIs in his career against Fulmer.
Fulmer owns a 2-4 record with a bloated 6.87 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in nine career starts versus Cleveland.
–Field Level Media