Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Oakland Athletics

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Pitching Matchups:

Roberto “Don’t call me Fausto” Hernandez takes the mound for the Indians in game one, and could they ever use a vintage performance. Coming into tonight’s game at 0-2 with an ERA quickly approaching 7.00 isn’t quite what the Tribe had in mind when they activated Hernandez following the resolution of his legal issues. Control hasn’t been the problem for him though, it’s been an inability to make hitters swing and miss. In his first two starts he’s struck out only two batters. He’s also offered up three long balls, further indication that right now Hernandez is simply grooving pitches and hitting too much of the plate. The question is: Is it rust, or is it a sign of a skill set that has deteriorated beyond the point of salvaging at this point?

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As for the A’s, they send Brett Anderson to the mound for his second start of the year. His first time out, a seven-inning gem against the Twins, Anderson allowed only one run on four hits and struck out six in the process. It was a far cry from what the A’s saw from him in 2011 and more reminiscent of the pitcher who posted a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts in 2010. Has Anderson regained whatever it was he lost last year? The A’s certainly hope so as his reemergence in the rotation could help fill the massive void created by the banishing of Bartolo Colon for PED use.

Zach McAllister continues to turn heads for the Indians in 2012. Sure there have been a few bumps in the road along the way, but for the most part he has established himself as a quality piece in the rotation moving forward. In his last three starts McAllister has pitched a total of 20 innings while posting an ERA of 3.15 with 14 strikeouts against only 4 walks. Those numbers aren’t mind blowing, but they are the type of numbers that will keep a team in each and every single game. At this point, McAllister gives the Indians an opportunity to win each and every time he takes the mound. The value of that statement can’t possibly be overlooked.

The A’s will counter with Tommy Milone, a lefty who has been a pleasant surprise since being acquired from the Nationals this past offseason. He has slowed down a bit of late, perhaps hitting a bit of a wall by hitting the 150-plus inning mark as a major leaguer for the first time. Over his last five starts he’s 1-3 with an ERA of 5.91. On the flip side, in his most recent start he threw eight innings, allowing only one run on two hits. So which version shows up on Tuesday? It’s hard to say, but given the fact he’s a lefty a dominant start isn’t out of the question.

If someone could provide me with a reasonable explanation for why the Indians continue to run Corey Kluber out to the mound every fifth day, I’m all ears. I don’t understand it. Is there not a better option currently available at the Triple A level? He’s allowed 20 runs to cross the plate in his five starts (granted not all of them were earned) and with the exception of one start he hasn’t done much to instill confidence. Maybe the Indians see something I don’t, but for now I’m unimpressed. It will be interesting to see how he performs against the A’s since this will be the first time in his career that a team will see him for a second time in the same season. Stay tuned.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Meanwhile, Tyson Ross takes the bump for the A’s and has he ever had a tough go of it in 2012. He is by far the weak link of the A’s staff. He comes into Wednesday’s game riding a personal three-game losing streak in which he’s posted an ERA of 7.63, batting average against of .339, and BABIP of .412, which is ridiculous. Maybe he’s getting unlucky or maybe he’s just been that bad. Who really knows? There is a great chance that this game could turn into a barn burner before it’s all said and done.

Justin Masterson had a very “Justin Mastersony” type of start on Saturday. (Yes, that’s a technical term.) Over the course of 6.2 innings against the Yankees he limited them to only 1 run on 7 hits. It was exactly what the Tribe needed and it was the primary reason why they won the game. Again, when Masterson is on his game and looking sharp he’s nearly unhittable and worthy of the status of staff ace. Let’s just hope he can repeat that performance against an A’s team that rocked him the last time they faced off.

The A’s will send Jarrod Parker to the mound in what will be a rematch from 11 days earlier. In that start, Parker shut the Indians down over the course of eight shutout innings of work. Did the Indians learn anything from that game that they can utilize on Thursday? Here’s hoping they have. Otherwise Parker may make this getaway day a very long one for the Tribe.

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