The Indians need a win badly on Sunday.
They need it not so much for the overall record as they do for the psychological incentive of being in first place at the All-Star break. The Tribe is a half-game ahead of the Detroit Tigers going into today’s action, and with Justin Verlander going for the Tigers against the Royals, it is quite likely that a Cleveland loss would drop the Indians into second place.
Carlos Carrasco will go for the Tribe, hoping to bounce back from a poor showing in his last start, on Tuesday against the Yankees.
In that game, Carrasco (8-5, 3.95 ERA) allowed ten hits and six runs in only four innings in a 9-2 New York win. That was the first time since June 2 that Carrasco gave up more than two runs in any start, so let’s hope that it was just an aberration (perhaps due to trying to beat the Bronx Bombers in front of the home folks) and Carrasco will bounce back today.
Carrasco has never faced Toronto, but it is safe to say that he should already know to be careful with Jose Bautista, who proved on Saturday that he is in The Zone, after his two homers led to a 5-4 Blue Jays’ win in 10 innings.
Toronto will send Brett Cecil (1-4, 6.37 ERA). Cecil has not won since April 15, and in his last start fared pretty well, allowing only three runs in eight innings against Boston, but still took the loss in a 3-2 Boston win.
Cecil has started four times in his career against Cleveland, and has a 1-0 record and a brilliant 1.00 ERA in 27 innings vs. The Good Guys.
Cecil did not appear in the Tribe’s three-game series in Toronto earlier this season.
After today’s game, everyone will get three days off except for Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez, who will be headed for Arizona for the All-Star Game.
The second “half” (not really half a season, as after today’s game the Tribe will have played 89 games and have only 73 left) will begin on Thursday, when Cleveland opens a four-game series in Baltimore.