A nemesis for the Indians comes to town on Thursday night to open a four-game series as the defending American League champion Texas Rangers visit Progressive Field.
Texas has won 12 of 15 against the Tribe in the last two seasons and the Rangers have won 11 out of the last 15 games in the Cleveland park.
Carlos Carrasco gets the first shot at reversing that trend.
Carrasco (4-2, 4.91 ERA) has won his last three starts, in large part due to the fact that the Indians have scored 26 runs in those three games. Carrasco was good last Saturday against Tampa Bay, allowing two runs in six innings of a 7-3 Cleveland win, and will need to have similar success against the Rangers.
Carrasco has made only one career appearance against Texas, that in 2009 when he had a no-decision in a start wherein he went five innings and allowed five runs.
Going tonight for the Rangers is Dave Bush, who is filling in for Matt Harrison. Harrison is sidelined (at least temporarily) with a blister. The right-handed Bush (0-1, 4.43 ERA) has faced Cleveland four times in his career, all as a starter, and is 0-1 with a 5.55 ERA against the Tribe in 24.1 career innings.
Overall, Bush, who pitched for Toronto and Milwaukee before joining the Rangers this year, is in his eighth season and has a career record of 56-69, along with a 4.66 ERA. Before this season he was almost exclusively a starter, although the Rangers have primarily used him out of the bullpen, from which he has made seven of his nine appearances in 2011.
Texas comes into this long weekend series in first place in the AL West, 1.5 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners but with a record of only 30-26. After getting off to a red-hot start the Rangers cooled down when Josh Hamilton went to the sidelines with an injury, but Hamilton is back and Texas has won seven out of their last 10 games.
The Rangers are led in hitting -- among full-time players -- by Michael Young, who is hitting .335. Three Rangers are in double-figures in home runs, led by Adrian Beltre with 11, and Beltre also leads in RBI with 43.
As a team, Texas is ninth in the Majors with a .259 average, but they are first in being struck out, and also first in stolen bases. Be alert, Tribe catchers.
The Indians come in hitting .263, good for fifth in the Major Leagues, and helped in large part by the offensive awakening in the past two games.
Asdrubal Cabrera leads in average among players available to play this weekend, and Asdrubal owns the Triple Crown among available players, as he also leads in homers with 10 and in RBI with 39.
The first three games of this series are all at 7:05, before the long weekend concludes with a 1:05 game on Sunday. It is important -- vital -- for the Indians to hold their own with the Rangers, because after a three-game set at home against Minnesota to begin next week, the Tribe goes to New York to face the Yankees in four games, and then on to Detroit for three with the Tigers, who lurk five games behind Cleveland.
Time to keep the momentum from the last two games going in the return to Cleveland, and to hold serve at home against the Rangers and the Twins before going on what could be a brutal road trip.