The Indians come out of the final series in Interleague play with a series loss to Houston, pushing them back to second place in the AL Central. The Indians struggles against left-handers have been largely to blame for the last few losses and without the addition of a right handed bat (or a lefty who can hit other left handers) they will likely continue. Since Mark Shapiro has stated that Manny Ramirez is not an option and the Indians have given up on Matt LaPorta they will likely have to find someone through trade.
The Indians will be traveling to New York for the next three games and Indians fans need to prepare for a few things. The rules change a little when you enter the Big Apple, especially against the Yankees. First, Derek Jeter cannot make an error. Any ball hit to him, no matter how badly he botches it will be called a hit. The corollary to this rule is that everything Jeter hits will be considered a hit. Even if an outfielder drops an easy pop fly it will be considered a double. Second rule change is that all close plays go for the Yankees. When the Yanks are on offense just assume that first base extends towards home about five feet. Part of this rule is that any Yankee hit within 5 feet of the foul line counts as fair and the opposite is true for the opposing team (just ask Joe Mauer). Rule three: swing at everything because every pitch a Yankee pitcher throws will be a strike and every pitch against them is a ball. Keeping these few simple rules in mind will make watching this series much less frustrating for Indians fans.
June 25th, 7:05 PM EDT: Josh Tomlin, RHP, 3-4, 5.12 ERA vs Hiroki Kuroda, RHP, 6-7, 3.57 ERA
Josh Tomlin pitched well during his last outing, winning one of the games in the three game sweep of the Reds. Tomlin only allowed a single earned run and 8 baserunners during 6.2 innings. He and Justin Masterson are the perfect type of pitcher to throw against the Yankees at their home field as they are sinker ball specialists and should be able to keep the Yankees in the park.
Hiroki Kuroda throws with his right hand. The Indians have proven that this is the only thing that matters in a pitcher. Velocity is unimportant as is control or movement. The Indians are now 32-19 against right handers and 5-15 against lefties. There doesn't seem to be much reason to dig any deeper with splits like that.
June 26th, 7:05 PM EDT: Justin Masterson, RHP, 4-6, 3.98 ERA vs Phil Hughes, RHP, 7-6, 4.94 ERA
Only R.A. Dickey could match Justin Masterson's last three starts as he 23 innings and only allowed a single earned run. He also struck out 24 and only walked three. The single run came off a home run. The Indians ace has earned that moniker of late and will look to continue his success against New York. New Yankee Stadium is a band box and Justin will need to keep the ball on the ground against the powerful Yankees to continue his good stretch.
Phil Hughes is pretty much just a waste of a human being. He was touched up for six runs against Atlanta his last time out and has allowed 6 or more runs in four starts already this year. Hughes is pretty much the only prospect turned pro left from the 2009 championship Yankees as they have managed to disperse almost their entire minor league system throughout the rest of the league through blockbuster trades. This has filled the Yankees rotation with aging veterans, never-will-bes and one fat over paid former Indian.
June 27th, 1:05 PM EDT: Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 7-5, 4.95 vs Andy Pettite, LHP, 3-3, 3.92 ERA
Ubaldo Jimenez has been fantastic in June and if he can continue his improvements he could possibly make the Indians not regret the trade for him. Already this month he has lowered his ERA a full run per 9 innings. Jimenez has only walked 7 batters this month after 42 in the first two months and has had his three best strikeout totals this season in his last three games.
Ubaldo will be going up against Roger Clemens' steroid spotter, Andy Pettite's zombie. The only things that can explain Pettitte's resurgence in his 17th season after taking a year off are HGH and his diet of unborn fetuses. Hopefully at some point during this game his arm will fall off and be reattached like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.