The Indians lost the final game of the road trip, but still managed to win all three series including a sweep of Kansas City. Overall they went 7-2 against the A's, Royals and Mariners. This amazing turnaround has put them right back in the divisional fight with the Tigers and White Sox. At 8-6 they are just one game behind the division leading Detroit.
The upcoming series in Cleveland will see the return of Asdrubal Cabrera to the team, back from his trip to Venezuela. This should help the Tribe immensely on both offense and defense, freeing up Jason Donald for a reserve role and bumping Jason Kipnis back down the the bottom of the lineup. Cabrera's return means the departure of Nick Hagadone after just three appearances. Hagadone pitched very well during his short time with the team and remains the next pitcher in line should any of the current Major Leaguers falter.
This game will see a rematch between Sanchez and the Indians, specifically Shin-Soo Choo. After all that happened last time, I wouldn't be surprised if the umpire gave warnings before the game starts. I don't actually think there will be any issues during this game, but if Sanchez does happen to let one loose, there will almost certainly be ejections and suspensions.
Derek Lowe has been the Indians most consistent pitcher from one week to the next and will hopefully continue on with that trend as he has to this point in his career. While his ERA will probably rise a little eventually from 3.50, he should continue to win games as long as he gets some run support.
The Indians shelled Hochevar in his start to the tune of 7 runs in 4 innings. He is nothing new to the Indians who have seen the Central Division foe often. Shin-Soo Choo and Jack Hannahan have been especially successful against him, both having batting averages above .500 and multiple home runs.
Josh Tomlin turned in one of his best starts of his career last time out. In 8 innings he allowed only one run and struck out 7 batters. Tomlin has only walked one hitter this season, making him the only pitcher with decent control this year. Tomlin's game is all about allowing batters to put the ball in play, so he has to be around the plate to be successful and he has been.
Mendoza also struggled against the Tribe last week as he allowed 9 runs in 4 innings although 4 of them were unearned. The right hander is the Indians favorite type of pitcher as he has struck out only 3 while walking 9 this season. The Indians continue to lead the Major Leagues in walks and Travis Hafner leads the league in on base percentage.
Like the Indians ace, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez is not performing to quite the standard that is expected of him. Luckily for him, the Indians have not had any problem hitting the Royals, so he should have enough run support.