The Indians have had sole possession of first place in the American League Central since April 17, and have had at least a share of the lead since April 7.
That could all change on Sunday afternoon in New York.
When the Detroit Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners in Detroit last night, the Tigers climbed into a virtual tie for first place with the Tribe. Cleveland’s lead is now only percentage points, after the Indians had led by seven games as recently as May 23 — the day that Cleveland moved to 30-15 with a win over the Boston Red Sox.
Since then the Indians have won four and lost 13. Today Josh Tomlin will have the task of trying to keep the Tribe on top, no matter what Detroit does.
And of course, it would be necessary for Cleveland to put at least a run on the board — something they were unable to do yesterday. Something they have been unable to do in five of their last 15 games.
Tomlin (7-3, 3.71 ERA) has been hit hard in his last three starts. In that span he has given up 16 earned runs in only 18 innings, and has seen his ERA rise from 2.41 to its current number in that span. One of those starts was a cakewalk win in Toronto where Tomlin could be excused for throwing a lot of get-em-out pitches, but in his last start, against the Twins on Monday, pitching with a big lead was not a luxury, and still Tomlin allowed six runs in six innings to a last-place team.
If there is reason to be hopeful, it is that Tomlin has faced the Yankees just once in his career, going seven frames and allowing just one run, defeating the Bombers on three hits with no walks.
A similar effort will be incumbent today, with the Tribe’s current offensive slump.
New York will send Freddy Garcia to the hill. Garcia (4-5, 3.86 ERA) has a long history against the Tribe. In 20 career appearances, including 19 starts, Garcia is dead-even against Cleveland, with a 6-6 record and a 4.06 ERA in 124 innings.
Garcia’s last appearance was as a bad one. Against Boston on Monday, Garcia was knocked out in the second inning, giving up four hits, three walks and four runs in just 1.2 innings in a 6-4 Yankees loss.
After this afternoon’s contest, this series will conclude on Monday night with Carlos Carrasco (5-3) opposing A.J. Burnett (6-4).