Winning late has been a common occurrence for the Cleveland Indians this season. Victories of any kind, though, haven’t been coming with much regularity lately.
The Indians hopes to rebound from a disappointing homestand when they open a four-game road series against the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.
Facing two sub-.500 teams at home, the Indians (55-39) only managed to split six games against Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox. They had a chance to finish above .500 on the homestand, but went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to the White Sox.
“(Mark) Buehrle kept us off track and we were never able to get anything going against him,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He didn’t make too many mistakes. He was down and in. He was low and away. He was tough.”
Two of Cleveland’s three victories on the homestand came on game-winning hits in the bottom of the ninth by Ryan Garko. The Indians have 28 come-from-behind wins this season and 15 in their final at-bat. They have, however, lost seven of their last 11 games as they struggle to catch AL Central-leading Detroit.
“It’s great to win late,” said Garko, who’s batting .476 (20-for-42) during a 12-game hitting streak. “But for us to be the team we want to be, we’ve got to show up from the first pitch on and put people away.”
Wedge wasn’t bothered by his team’s performance on the homestand.
“I felt like some good, hard baseball was played,” he said. “That’s what it’s going to be from here on out.”
The Indians have averaged 8.5 runs during a four-game winning streak against the Rangers, but Cleveland will send struggling ace C.C. Sabathia (12-4, 3.78 ERA) to the mound Thursday. The left-hander has been hit hard in his last two starts, allowing 13 runs and 21 hits in 11 innings. He had surrendered only eight earned runs in his previous three starts over 22 innings.
Sabathia gave up six runs and 11 hits through seven innings Saturday in a 6-5 loss to Kansas City.
The left-hander yielded five runs and seven hits in six innings of Cleveland’s 8-7, 11-inning victory over Texas on April 25. He’s 6-2 with a 4.72 ERA in 10 starts against the Rangers.
Texas’ Desi Relaford is 7-for-11 (.636) with three doubles against Sabathia.
Although they’re still last in the AL West, the Rangers (41-53) have looked like a much-improved team lately. They had a three-game win streak snapped Wednesday with a 6-0 loss at Oakland, as Kevin Millwood lost for only the second time in seven starts.
Texas has won 10 of 15 at home after losing 17 of its first 29 there. The Rangers have a 3.79 ERA in those 15 home games, compared to 5.21 in their first 29 contests at Rangers Ballpark.
Kameron Loe (5-7, 5.49) hopes to rebound from a dismal performance when he takes the mound for Texas on Thursday. The right-hander entered Saturday’s start against the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA in his last five outings, but was unable to maintain that momentum. He lasted only 2 2-3 innings to match his shortest start of the season and allowed five runs - three earned - with five hits and five walks.
Loe struggled in his first career start against the Indians on April 26, as he was reached for seven runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-4 loss.
Cleveland’s Trot Nixon is 4-for-8 with two home runs against Loe.