The Indians and Tigers each lost their last series while the White Sox won, making the top of the AL Central look like this:
The Indians are in no danger of falling into third at this point, but need to end this current losing skid (2-7 in their last 9 games) if they want to regain control of the Central. The good news is their last winning streak came against the Tigers (a three game sweep). The bad news, the Tigers are throwing out two left handed pitchers of their three starters this series. The Indians have epically struggled against left handers this season (expect a more in depth article later today), especially young ones and they will face two in Smyly and Crosby.
The real good news going into this series is that Carlos Santana should be back for tomorrow's (6/5) game. He is going to DH in Lake County today and if everything goes well could be activated for the opener. The Indians should announce a corresponding roster move later today or tomorrow. It will likely see either Luke Carlin or Juan Diaz being sent back down to AAA (or AA). Since coming back from injury Lou Marson has played better than he's ever played before, almost like his career depended on it (and it did), so he will most certainly remain as the back-up.
Finally, the Major League draft starts tonight and the Indians have the 15th pick in the first round. They will likely choose a college pitcher to replace all the other college pitchers they have drafted in recent years, then traded away.
The thing the Indians traded all their draft picks for will be starting this game after getting destroyed his last time out. An interesting point here is that Ubaldo has only allowed more than 4 runs in a game three times and each time he allowed 7 runs against some kind of Sox (twice against White, once against Red). He did beat the Tigers the last time he faced them, going 6 innings and only allowing 3 runs also known as a miracle in Cleveland. Incredibly, Jimenez has a decision in every start this season except his first. When he starts, the game is over by the time he leaves it. It is extremely important for the Indians that he put up a good showing in game one to try to regain some ground against the Tigers.
The Indians have yet to face Drew Smyly and he is putting in a Rookie of the Year type performance so far this year. This could end badly for the Tribe. If it is any consolation at all, Smyly is yet to pitch through the 7th, so the Indians should get a couple innings against the Tiger bullpen after Smyly shuts them out for the first half of the game. Seriously, this one doesn't look good.
Gomez's last two starts (against Kansas City and Chicago) were his worst two combined starts of the season, but they followed his best start and the Indians only win against the Marlins this year. Jeanmar is yet to face the Tigers this year and in his career he has pitched 20+ innings against them with an ERA of over 7.00. He will have to turn things around as this game is the Indians best chance for a win in this series.
Scherzer has not faced the Indians to this point in the season, but has faced them many times over the past few years. He currently has a career ERA against the Tribe of about 5.00. Adding to that the return of Santana and the first right hander that the will play against in four days, the Indians should have no trouble scoring runs in this game.
As predicted, Derek Lowe destroyed the Twins and wouldn't have allowed a single earned run if the game was scored properly. It will be interesting to see what the old man can do this time out as he has yet to face the Tigers this year.
Hopefully Matt LaPorta will stay on the roster for this game, even though Johnny Damon is scheduled to return on the 5th. Nobody hits AAA pitchers like Matt LaPorta. Over his minor league career, Matt hit .311/.400/.569 in 159 games at the AAA level and this season had already hit 14 home runs, 8 doubles and knocked in 32. Crosby is recent enough out of the minors that LaPorta may be able to hit him still. He just made his Major League debut against the Yankees and was rocked to the tune of 6 runs in 3.1 innings.