The Indians, who entered this weekend series in second place in the Central Division, now find themselves on Sunday morning a game ahead of the Detroit Tigers as they try to complete a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates and to move to 6-0 in interleague play.
The task won’t be easy on Sunday, as Pittsburgh will go with Jeff Karstens, who has been terrific as a starter for the Pirates. Karstens (4-4, 2.66 ERA) has not given up more than two earned runs in a game since May 3, although he has suffered what Justin Masterson — Sunday’s opponent for Karstens — has: lack of run-support.
As an example: on June 9 Karstens went seven innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving up only four hits and no runs…and received no decision in a game the Pirates eventually lost, 2-0.
In his last start, on Tuesday against the Houston Astros, Karstens once again allowed no runs, but this time got the victory with 6.2 innings of three-hit ball.
Karstens has faced the Indians twice in his career, going 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in a span covering one start, two appearances and only 6.2 innings pitched.
Karstens began his career with the New York Yankees, but has been with Pittsburgh since the 2008 season.
Masterson (5-5, 3.16 ERA) has not won since April 26. Obviously, with the low ERA, a lot of that can not be blamed on him, but rather on pitching in bad timing and with little support.
This will be Masterson’s second appearance vs. Pittsburgh. In six previous innings, Masterson is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA against the Pirates.
After today’s game the Indians will welcome the Colorado Rockies to Cleveland on Monday night for the opener of a three-game set before embarking on the crucible of a nine-game interleague road trip to San Francisco, Arizona and Cincinnati.
It was announced today that the Indians have let hitting coach Jon Nunnally go and replaced him with minor-league hitting instructor Bruce Fields. Fields will join the team on Monday, before the Tribe takes on the Colorado Rockies.
Nunnally came to the Tribe along with manager Manny Acta before the 2010 season.
Here is the complete story, via Cleveland.com and Paul Hoynes and Dennis Manoloff.