The Indians will take the field on Wednesday night against Oakland already knowing that they need a win to keep pace with the Detroit Tigers, who rallied in the eighth inning this afternoon to defeat the Kansas City Royals 5-4. Cleveland, for the moment, trails the Tigers by six games in the American League Central.
The Tribe will be sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the hill for the third game of this four-game series, and Jimenez has been terrific in the Friendly Confines of Progressive Field since coming over from the Colorado Rockies. In two home starts with Cleveland, Ubaldo has compiled a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings of work, allowing only one run on 12 hits with 16 strikeouts over that span.
Jimenez will be making his first-ever appearance against the Athletics, who are scuffling to score runs and who seem to be a perfect opponent for Jimenez to stay hot at home.
Oakland, meanwhile, will send Rich Harden to the mound tonight. Harden has only appeared in 10 games for the A's in 2011, and is 4-2 with a 4.55 ERA in only 57.1 innings of work. It is looking more and more as if Harden -- for the second year in a row -- may not reach 100 frames, due to injuries.
Harden has started six times vs. The Good Guys in his career, but has only one decision. Harden stands 1-0 with a 4.36 ERA in 33 career innings against the Tribe, and will be making his first appearance of the season vs. Cleveland tonight.
This series will conclude with a 12:05 game on Thursday afternoon, when Fausto Carmona (6-12) will take on tough Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez. After that it will be a quick trip to Kansas City for the weekend before the Tribe comes back home on Monday to begin a critical series against the Tigers.