Photo Klay Kuban
Game 1 (6:10 PM CDT): Cole Hamels (2-0, 3.03 ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (8-3, 2.99 ERA)
Game 2 (6:10 PM CDT): Tyson Ross (1-1, 9.35 ERA) vs Mike Clevinger (3-3, 3.86 ERA)
Game 3 (6:10 PM CDT): Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.12 ERA) vs Trevor Bauer (6-6, 5.53 ERA)
Game 4 (11:10 AM CDT): TBD (Rangers) vs Corey Kluber (6-2, 3.24 ERA)
Texas: Texas is 6-4 in their last 10 contests and the Rangers are coming off of two straight wins and a series victory over the AL East leading New York Yankees. The Rangers are 12-8 in the month of June and have not lost a series since getting swept by the Astros in the first series of the month. The Rangers now sit 13.0 games back of the Houston Astros and are 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, which is currently held by the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland: The Indians are also 6-4 over their last 10; however, they are coming off three straight losses at home to the Minnesota Twins, dropping them to second in the division, a half game back of the aforementioned Twins. The Indians are an even .500 at 11-11 for the month of June.
Cleveland leads the season series 3-0. The Indians swept the Rangers in Arlington in the season opening series in April, coming from behind in the ninth inning twice to hand Sam Dyson his first two losses of the season. The impending series in Cleveland will be the Rangers only trip to Cleveland this season, and the two teams are not scheduled to meet again in the regular season. Texas will have to hope for a sweep this week to win the season series.
When the Rangers and Indians squared off to open the season on April 3, most thought they were watching a preview of a potential playoff matchup come October. However, poor starts, injuries and inconsistency had manyRangers and Indians fans alike wondering if a late July fire sale was a more realistic possibility than a playoff birth. Both teams have since appeared to right the ship, and both have set their sights firmly on 162+.
The focus on this four-game set will primarily be on pitching for both sides. Both teams will be sending their two best pitchers to the bump this week, which will include the long anticipated return of Cole Hamels this evening. Hamels has been on the Disabled List since May 3 with a strained right oblique. Hamels, 2-0 on the year with a 3.03 ERA, hasn’t started a game since April 26, when he picked up his second win of the season, allowing three runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings against the Twins.
The return of Hamels comes at just the right time, as this Rangers team will need quality starting pitching this week if it hopes to avoid its first series loss since the first week of June. Runs may be hard to come by for the Rangers as this Indians pitching staff comes in with a team ERA of 3.83, good for second best in the AL. Furthermore, the Indians currently rank second in the American League with 717 strikeouts, which doesn’t look good for the Rangers as only the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics have struck out more times than the Rangers this season. Corey Kluber, the Indians scheduled starter for the Thursday daytime finale, is the reigning AL player of the week. Last week, Kluber was 2-0 with an ERA of 0.00 in 16 innings pitched.
Elvis Andrus (SS): 10-30 (.333) over the past week with 2 doubles and 5 RBIs.
Carlos Gomez (OF): 10-34 (.294) with 6 homeruns and 16 RBIs since returning from the DL on June 16.
Delino DeShields (OF): 17-50 (.340) batting average in June with 10 stolen bases and 13 runs scored in 17 games played.
Shin-Soo Choo (DH/OF): OBP of .405 over his last 25 ballgames, which includes 22 walks (12 more than any other Ranger over that same span) and a batting average of .261 with 8 HRs and 19 runs driven in.
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF): 10-24 (.417) over the past week.
Austin Jackson (OF): 9-25 (.360) with 7 RBIs over his last 7 games.
Edwin Encarnacion (DH / 1B): Noted Ranger killer has hit .329 with 7 HRs and 18 RBIs in the month of June.
Jose Ramirez (3B): Hitting .376 with 5 HRs in June. Ramirez hit .393 over the past week and his season batting average currently sits at .321 with 12 HR and 35 runs driven in.
Something has to give as Cleveland comes into this series just 15-20 at home; however, the Rangers have fared only marginally better on the road with a season record of 16-20.
Game to Watch
If you are only able to catch one of the four upcoming games against the Indians this week, make it the series opener tonight. Not only will we be treated to the return of Hamels, we should be in for a good pitching matchup this evening as the Indians will send their team leader in wins, ERA, and strikeouts to the mound. Carrasco, a 30-year old right hander out of Venezuela, will be making his 15th start of the season. He is 8-3 on the season with a 2.99 ERA and WHIP of just 1.02. Carrasco blanked the Orioles on 7 hits in 6 innings his last time out 5 days ago. Carrasco is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in the month of June.