Know Your Enemy: Cleveland Indians Vs San Francisco Giants


AT&T Park, where Tim Hudson and the San Francisco Giants come to play. Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Workman

The last time the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants paired up for a three-game series was June 26-28, 2011, with the Giants sweeping at AT&T Park, when the two teams combined for nine runs.  The way the Giants have been playing, prior to Wednesday’s series finale in Colorado, we could see this again. After all, San Francisco recently came off a span of nine, one-run affairs out of ten games, winning five and losing four.

Whereas the Giants have hit the second-most home runs in the majors with 27, the Tribe has allowed the third fewest in the American League, going into Wednesday’s game with 12.  Something will have to give. The two teams are fairly balanced in terms of scoring and runs allowed, with the Giants scoring 93 and holding opponents to 89, while the Indians have scored 88 and allowed 98.

The last time the Giants and Indians played, Buster Posey was only four weeks into his recovery process from that hideous injury suffered when Scott Cousins bowled him over in a home-plate collision, May 25th, of that same year.  Cleveland would go on to finish in second place, fifteen games behind the Detroit Tigers and the Giants, of course, got squeezed out in September, finishing eight games behind Arizona, who took the division handily.

Now the Tribe (10-11 going into Thursday’s game) returns to AT&T Park this weekend for a three-game series in the first inter-league action for the Giants this season; in fact it’s the first non-National League West action, period, for San Francisco.  In inter-league play, the Giants were 7-8 in 2012 and 6-14 in 2013, or 13-22 for the two seasons.  The Tribe was 8-10 in 2012, and 11-9 in 2013, an even .500 for the past two seasons.  The Tribe, of course, is coming off a very successful 2013 campaign, which saw them win the last wild card spot, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0 in the one-game playoff.

So I want to give San Francisco Giants’ fans a look at the team rolling into town tomorrow, so they can get a feel for what’s coming at them.  And I want to start with manager Tony Francona, simply because his name is forever linked with the undoable:  He defeated the Curse of the Bambino and brought not one-but two-world championships to Boston.  I say, if he could do it in Boston (twice), then he can do it in Cleveland.

I don’t have to know what critical decisions Francona has made in each game played this season, to know that he is going to have his club prepared for the task at hand.  He wasn’t even managing Cleveland the last time they were at AT&T Park, but I’ll bet he has the team fired up, especially since some of the veterans were on that team.

Tim Hudson Is Pitching on Friday against the Tribe. Photo by Denise Walos.

The Indians’ starting rotation looks like this: Justin Masterson (4 starts, 0-0, 4.98 ERA, 1.57 WHIP),  Corey Kluber (4 starts, 1-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.71 WHIP),  Zach McAllister (4 starts, 3-0, 2.28 ERA, 1.18 WHIP),  Carlos Carrasco (3 starts, 0-2; 7.31 ERA, 1.71 WHIP), and Danny Salazar (3 starts, 0-2, 7.71 ERA, 1.93 WHIP).

In the bullpen, the closer is John Axford (10 appearances: 0-1, 7 saves, 3.12 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), setup men Cody Allen (11 appearances, 2-0, 0.00 ERA 1.38 WHIP), and Bryan Shaw (9 appearances, 0-0, 4 holds, 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP),  lefties Marc Rzepczynski (10 appearances, 0-1, 5 holds, 1.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) and Josh Outman (8 appearances, 3-0, 1.42 ERA, 1.58 WHIP), right-handers Vinnie Pestano (3 appearances, 0-0, 13.50 ERA, 3.38 WHIP) and Scott Atchison (7 appearances, 0-0, 1.08 ERA, 0.36 WHIP).

Josh Tomlin lost out in the battle for the last rotation spot to Carlos Carrasco.   With Carrasco not in the bullpen, right-handers Scott Atchison and Blake Wood were the the last two relievers to net a spot in the bullpen, and Wood was just sent down because the Indians activated DH Jason Giambi from the disabled list.

The Tribe’s position players look like this: Nick Swisher 1B (.213 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI), Jason Kipnis 2B (.229, 3 HR, 9 RBI), Asdrubal Cabrera SS (.205, 1 HR, 5 RBI), Lonnie Chisenhall (.417, 0 HR, 0 RBI) and Carlos Santana (.136, 1 HR, 3 RBI), who is also backup catcher at third;  catcher Yan Gomes (.267, 2 HR, 7 RBI); and outfielders Michael Brantley (.293, 4 HR, 18 RBI), Nyjer Morgan (.348, 0 HR, 4 RBI), and David Murphy (.288, 2 HR, 15 RBI).

And there you have the 2014 Cleveland Indians, who come into AT&T Park this Friday through Sunday.  The projected pitching match-up for Friday night’s game pits Carlos Carrasco against Tim Hudson, (1-2, lifetime against Cleveland, with a 6.33 ERA).  Hudson has never faced the Tribe in inter-league play.  Of note is the fact that the Tribe’s bullpen has a 2.85 ERA, third in the American League behind Boston and Oakland.

The Giants will be up for any team not in the NL West, and the Tribe will be a lot of fun to see.  Regardless of the outcome, it should make for an exciting weekend.

Buster Posey.  Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports