Things were looking up for the Cleveland Indians after they won three straight series for the first time this season. Following that stretch with their longest losing streak of the year has left them frustrated again.
The Indians look to turn around their interleague fortunes and avoid a seventh straight defeat as they open a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
Cleveland (29-42) took two of three games in consecutive series against the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City and St. Louis from June 5-14, nearly pulling out of last place in the AL Central.
While the Indians were encouraged by that surge, they’ve since dropped six straight interleague games to fall further back in the division. They blew a big lead in each of their first two losses to the Chicago Cubs over the weekend before falling 6-2 in the finale Sunday.
Cleveland is 3-9 in interleague play this season, including 1-5 on the road.
“Obviously, we’re not in a good situation,” second baseman Jamey Carroll(notes) told the Indians’ official Web site. “It’s no fun to get beat. We’ve lost some heartbreakers. It’s not going to keep us from coming out and competing. At all.
“All we can do is just keep coming out, and hopefully, when the situation comes, we can win games that we’re supposed to and bounce back from days like today.”
Cleveland could get a boost from the return of center fielder Grady Sizemore(notes), who was activated from the disabled list and is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday. Sizemore, batting .223 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in 49 games, has been out since May 31 with an inflamed left elbow.
The Pirates (31-38) also suffered a sweep over the weekend, dropping all three games at Colorado. They blew a three-run, eighth-inning lead in a 9-7 defeat Saturday, and second baseman Freddy Sanchez(notes) misplayed a routine popup that led to two Rockies runs as Pittsburgh fell 5-4 on Sunday.
“It was just one of those deals where it seemed like something happened each of the games,” Sanchez told the Pirates’ official Web site. “I felt like we were in at least the last two games and something happened where we didn’t execute or we didn’t get the job done.”
The last-place Pirates lost five of six on their road trip to Minnesota and Colorado. They’ll try to bounce back at PNC Park, where they’re 5-1 in June and 17-12 overall.
“Long road trip,” manager John Russell said. “We go home and we regroup.”
Russell will hand the ball to Ian Snell(notes) (2-7, 5.08 ERA). The right-hander snapped a 10-start winless streak by limiting Minnesota to two runs and five hits in six innings of an 8-2 victory Wednesday.
“It’s good to get a win for him,” Russell said of Snell, who was 0-5 with a 5.56 ERA during the drought. “I think that’s going to be a big boost for him.”
Snell, who’s 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two interleague starts this year, gave up five runs - two earned - in five innings of a 9-6 win in his only previous game against Cleveland, on May 20, 2006.
David Huff(notes) (2-2, 7.09) gets the start for the Indians. The rookie left-hander gave up three runs in five innings of Cleveland’s 9-8, 11-inning loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. He’s given up three runs in each of his last three outings.
The Pirates had won seven straight home games against the Indians before losing the teams’ last meeting in Pittsburgh on June 22, 2003. The clubs last met in 2006 in Cleveland, and the Indians took two of three in that series.