Trying to stop losing streaks has been a large problem for the Cleveland Indians since the All-Star break.
Attempting to create winning streaks after doing so has proven equally challenging.
The Indians seek back-to-back wins for only the third time since the Midsummer Classic on Sunday when they wrap up a three-game series with the visiting New York Yankees.
Cleveland (55-71) was a pleasant surprise the first half of the season, mainly staying above .500 and going into the All-Star break 44-41. The second half has been a prolonged, torturous fade to obscurity for the Indians, who avoided being the first team since 2006 to have two 10-game losing streaks in the same season - both coming since July 27 - after winning 3-1 on Saturday night.
“It’s been rough,” said closer Chris Perez, who worked the ninth for his 33rd save. “I’ve never been through something like this. I was here in 2010, when we were pretty brutal - but we were brutal all year. To go from competing to all of a sudden three weeks later … it was just a free-fall.”
Ubaldo Jimenez (9-12, 5.59 ERA) will try to help the Indians win back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 8-9, and also will try to merely keep the ball in the park. The AL loss leader has allowed a career-worst 23 home runs in 143 1-3 innings, including five in his last three starts.
All three runs Jimenez allowed Monday at Seattle came on the two home runs he yielded in 5 2-3 innings, and he did not factor in the decision of Cleveland’s 5-3 loss. Additionally, he lost his only start against the Yankees this year after giving up a go-ahead two-run homer to Robinson Cano in the sixth inning of a 5-4 defeat June 27.
One player Jimenez has had little trouble with is Mark Teixeira, who is 0 for 13 with six strikeouts against the right-hander.
Far and away the major league leaders with 194 home runs, the AL East-leading Yankees (73-53) had a rare power outage Saturday, failing to go deep for the fourth time in 41 games since the All-Star break.
“It happens,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Our guys had pretty good at-bats. We weren’t able to get that big hit.”
New York has dropped four of five on its road trip but still leads the division by 3 1/2 games over Tampa Bay, which it plays six times in an upcoming stretch of 22 games against East rivals following this contest.
“I think it’s all about winning right now,” Nick Swisher, who has a 15-game hitting streak at Cleveland, told MLB.com. “That Chicago series wasn’t us, wand when you come up in situations like that, especially when things aren’t going your way, you try and maybe do a little extra.”
Swisher and Derek Jeter have done plenty extra at the top of the lineup, with Swisher batting .333 with five homers since moving into the No. 2 spot Aug. 8, and Jeter hitting .395 with five homers in that same span batting leadoff.
Jeter’s .366 lifetime average at Progressive Field is his highest at any stadium.
Yankees starter Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.96) tries again to win his fourth consecutive decision after a shaky outing at Chicago on Monday. The right-hander failed to work out of a five-run fifth in New York’s 9-6 defeat, the first time in six starts he allowed more than three runs.
He made two relief appearances versus the Indians in late June, throwing 3 1-3 hitless innings and getting a win over Jimenez. Garcia also picked up a victory in his lone 2011 start against Cleveland.