There’s been plenty of discussion about the future of the slumping Cleveland Indians over the last few days, but manager Eric Wedge hopes his team is more focused on ending its recent woes.
Wedge and the Indians look to avoid their first 10-game losing streak since 1979, while salvaging a split of their two-game set with the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday at Comerica Park.
Heading into this brief series, Cleveland (37-52) dealt reigning AL Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia to Milwaukee for four prospects on Monday. It was the latest move by a team that has fallen well out of contention in the AL Central, 15 games behind the division-leading Chicago White Sox.
Things didn’t get much easier the day after the trade as the Indians stumbled into their ninth straight loss, 9-2 at Detroit (45-44).
“It’s dominoing on us a bit,” said Wedge. “We’ve got to work that much harder to snap out of it.”
Wedge’s club will try to prevent its first 10-game losing streak since June 17-27, 1979, but to do that, it will have to avoid a winless road trip.
The Indians, who have the AL’s worst road record at 15-30, are 0-7 during their current eight-game swing. Their eight-game road slide is their longest since they lost nine in a row from April 22-May 8, 2003.
While the Indians are languishing at the bottom of the AL Central, the Tigers have been thriving, winning 21 of 29 contests since June 7.
On Tuesday, Justin Verlander pitched seven dominant innings, and Detroit pounded out 13 hits and four homers—two from Miguel Cabrera—to pick up a season high-tying sixth straight win at Comerica Park.
“We win the game, that’s more important,” said Cabrera, who has hit .383 (18-for-47) with four homers and nine RBIs over his last 12 games.
Cabrera has gone 2-for-7 versus Cleveland’s struggling starter Paul Byrd (3-10, 5.53 ERA), who is looking for his first win in over a month.
Byrd notched his 100th career victory at Detroit on June 6, giving up two runs and four hits over seven innings in a 4-2 win. But he has since dropped five consecutive starts, posting an 8.53 ERA in that span.
On Friday, the right-hander was tagged for six runs and eight hits—two homers—over 5 1-3 innings of a 12-3 loss at Minnesota.
“Frustrated, this has been as tough a month, month and a half, that I have ever had in the big leagues,” said Byrd, who is 1-8 with a 7.21 ERA in 10 road starts.
Byrd is one loss short of matching his career high, but he might be able to avoid reaching that dubious mark for at least one more start. He is 9-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 career appearances versus the Tigers, going 3-0 over his last five games.
Tigers first baseman Carlos Guillen, who spent Tuesday with his wife and newborn daughter, has hit .444 (16-for-36) with two homers and six RBIs lifetime versus Byrd. It is uncertain whether he will rejoin the team Wednesday.
Detroit will start rookie Eddie Bonine (2-1, 4.30) as he faces the Indians for the first time.
The right-hander was roughed up by another AL Central opponent last Wednesday, giving up five runs—two earned—and seven hits in just 2 2-3 innings of a 7-0 loss at Minnesota.
Bonine is starting for the third time at home, where he has gone 2-0 with a 4.73 ERA.