CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 16: Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Progressive Field on May 16, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Indians' upcoming glut of AL Central opponents -- the next 15 games are against division foes -- is bookended by three-game series with the Tigers.
The Indians begin the Central gauntlet with a 3.0-game lead over the Tigers and a 2.5-game lead over the second-place Chicago White Sox, who Cleveland will play this weekend.
This will be the Indians' first 2012 series with the Tigers, who entered the season as the prohibitive AL Central favorite. But the Tribe will make up for lost time: The 15-game stretch is bookended by three-game series with Detroit.
Ubaldo Jimenez, 4-3, will start for Cleveland on Tuesday. Jimenez has given up 10 earned runs over his last two starts (10.1 innings), swelling his ERA from 4.04 to 5.09.
Something is amiss with Jimenez's strikeout totals. He had a rock-solid K/9 rate each of the last few seasons -- in 2011, for instance, he had 180 strikeouts in 188.1 innings, and in 2010 he had 214 K's in 221.2 innings -- but hasn't had that swing-and-miss stuff this season. He has just 28 strikeouts in 46.0 innings.
Rick Porcello, who hasn't lasted into the sixth inning in either of his last two starts, will take a 3-3 record and 5.12 ERA to the hill for the Tigers.