The AL Central leaders for most of 2011, the Cleveland Indians are a season-high 4 1/2 games out of first after a weekend sweep against the current front-runners.
An 11-game homestand against three clubs with losing records couldn’t come at a better time.
The Indians look to avoid a fourth straight loss Monday night when they open a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners, losers of five straight.
Cleveland (62-61) was swept in three games at Detroit over the weekend. The Indians stormed back from a seven-run deficit in Sunday’s finale, but came up short and fell 8-7 when Kosuke Fukudome(notes) was thrown out at home to complete a game-ending double play.
Now, in addition to being 4 1/2 games back of the Tigers, the Indians are only one-half game in front of the third-place White Sox.
“This isn’t what we were looking for when we came here,” said designated hitter Travis Hafner(notes), who left in the sixth inning with a foot strain and is day-to-day. “There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but this was obviously a big game, and we didn’t win it.”
Cleveland will try to regroup during an 11-game homestand which includes three against Central cellar dweller Kansas City and four versus Oakland.
Choo is 6 for 15 with a home run in Cleveland’s first four meetings with the Mariners (53-72) this season - all wins. The Indians outscored Seattle 25-12 in those contests.
The Mariners have dropped 20 of their last 23 road games, including a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay over the weekend culminating in an 8-7 loss Sunday.
“We were in position to win two out of the three games here and ended up losing both late,” said Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who managed the Indians from 2003-09 but has yet to defeat his former club. “We just have to keep plugging.”
Carmona came within two outs of a complete game in a 4-1 win at Chicago on Wednesday, giving up one run and four hits while striking out six.
The right-hander allowed four runs and two homers in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-4 win over Seattle on May 13, although he didn’t factor in the decision.
The left-hander gave up eight runs - six in the first inning - and four walks in four innings of a 13-7 loss to Toronto on Tuesday.
Vargas also struggled against Cleveland on April 8, surrendering seven runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 12-3 defeat.