The Cleveland Indians continue their pursuit of an American League wildcard spot on Sunday afternoon with the finale of their series in Detroit against the Tigers. If things go right, the Indians could clinch with a win on Sunday. They entered play on Saturday with a magic number of four over the Seattle Mariners, who are playing the San Diego Padres this weekend, to clinch a playoff spot. With two Mariners losses Saturday and Sunday, as well as two Cleveland wins, the Indians are in. The Tigers, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do and need a lot of help to get into the playoffs. They entered Saturday’s action 4.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the eighth and final playoff spot in the American League.
This preview was written before Saturday’s game.
The Indians won the first two games of the four-game series by scores of 10-3 and 1-0. Zach Plesac tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts, as he worked into the eighth inning in Friday’s 1-0 win. Cleveland had just five hits in the game, but a Delino DeShields triple followed by a Francisco Lindor sacrifice fly in the fifth inning was all that the Indians needed, as they handed the Detroit Tigers their fourth shutout loss in their last 10 games. Victor Reyes had two of the Tigers six hits in the game.
Indians getting back to winning waysThe Cleveland Indians have pulled out of their biggest slump of the season, an eight-game losing streak from September 8-16, to win the first two games of their four-game series against the Detroit Tigers. The Indians have won six of their first eight games against the Tigers this season, and 19 of their last 21 games over Detroit (through Friday). Cleveland, who won 93 games last season, but still missed the playoffs, was 18-1 against Detroit last season.
“I just want to hit the ball hard,” Deshields said on cleveland.com about his triple that led to the only run of the game on Friday. “I just want to get on base any way I can. I know if my swing is right and I’m barreling the baseball more times than not those balls are going to drop.”
The Indians have actually played better on the road this season, going 16-12, as opposed to 12-11 at home. They have hit just 49 home runs this season, while Jose Ramirez has hit 26.5% of them (13). Ramirez also leads the Indians in batting average (.280), RBI (32), and OPS (.914). Cleveland’s pitching has been phenomenal this season, posting a 3.18 ERA this season. They are first in baseball in runs given up per nine innings (3.36), second in opponents OPS (.663), third in strikeouts per game (10.25), and fourth in opponents batting average (.223).
Carlos Carrasco goes to the mound on Sunday for the Indians. He is 2-4 with a 3.27 ERA this season. Carrasco has given up just five earned runs in his last four starts, covering 25 innings. Carrasco has pitched pretty well versus the Tigers in his career. He has made 29 appearances, going 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA.
Tigers look to salvage series versus IndiansWith their 1-0 loss to the Indians on Friday, the Detroit Tigers lost their eighth game in their last 10, all but ending the Tigers hopes of making this year’s expanded playoffs. The Tigers are just 11-15 at home this season. They are facing right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Sunday. They have been awful against righties in 2020, batting just .225 (compared to .313 against lefties). They also have just a .666 OPS versus right-handed pitching. Detroit has also not played well this month, going just 5-13 in September.
The Tigers are dealing with some injury issues right now, the most serious loss being leading home run hitter Jonathan Schoop. Outfielder JaCoby Jones is also on the IL, while catcher Austin Romine is day-to-day with a wrist injury.
“He's gonna be okay,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday on freep.com, referring to Romine."His hand went numb and his thumb locked up on him. After he got into the clubhouse, it loosened up."
With Schoop out, Jeimer Candelario is the top home run hitter with seven, while he leads the team with a .308 batting average and 28 RBI. Willi Castro, who has played just 29 games this season, is hitting .347 with a .950 OPS.
Matthew Boyd gets the start for the Tigers on Sunday. He has not pitched well this season, going 2-6 with a 6.75 ERA. He is coming off his best start of the season, pitching 5.2 innings without allowing a run and giving up just two hits. In 12 career starts versus Cleveland, Boyd is 2-5 with a 3.76 ERA.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Cleveland Indians have owned the Detroit Tigers over the last two seasons, winning 19 of their last 21 games, through Friday. Four of Cleveland’s six wins over the Tigers this season have been by at least three runs. The Indians are gearing up for the postseason, and they have gotten it together in the series versus the Tigers. Detroit is without their top home run hitter, while the Indians have the best pitching staff in the league. Matthew Boyd has pitched very poorly this season, while Carlos Carrasco has turned it around over his last four starts, giving up just five earned runs in those four starts. The Indians are speeding towards the playoffs, and they will take care of the Tigers once again on Sunday.
Prediction: Cleveland -1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
No matter who the Indians throw on the mound, I t is not a favorable matchup for the Tigers. Cleveland, as a team, has a 3.18 ERA, while the Tigers have been shut out in four of their last 10 games, including 1-0 on Friday against the Indians. Detroit hits nearly 100 points lower versus right-handed pitching this season. That coupled with their top power hitter being out of the lineup, means the Tigers will not score many, if any, runs on Sunday. The Indians have scored four runs or less in six of their last nine games, so expect a low-scoring game in this one.