- Game 1: Jarrod Parker (1-4, 7.36 ERA/5.30 SIERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 7.13/4.66)
For the Indians, this start by Ubaldo Jimenez could be very telling. He is coming off a superb start against the Royals and building on that positive momentum could be huge. But, then again this is Ubaldo Jimenez. It’s just as likely that he’ll throw another almost complete game shutout as it is he’ll get lit up and be out of the game by the third inning. Pay particular attention to his approach and when Terry Francona decides to pull him as they continue the process of making him a competent pitcher once again.
Meanwhile, Jarrod Parker has had a miserable start to his 2013 season. His 7.36 Era doesn’t even tell the half of it. He did have some encouraging signs in his last couple of starts, but until he turns in that one dominant performance, people will continue to worry about him. Given how bad some of his starts have been, this could be another opportunity for the Indians offense to beat down an opposing pitcher.
Zach McAllister has been the Indians most consistently good pitcher over the past two seasons. His ability to mow through lineups on the first go around is pretty impressive. If he could find a way to carry that success over to the second and third times through the order then we would really have something. That said, there is no reason to not expect McAllister to perform well, even against one of the best offenses in baseball.
As for Tommy Milone, he got off to a great start by winning his first three starts of the season. Since then, it has been anything but great. Over the course of his past three starts, Milone has coughed up 11 runs and taken three straight losses. Per my conversation with Swingin’ A’s editor Sean Dean, there is a distinct difference between Milone at home and Milone on the road. Here’s hoping the Indians can find a way to light him up.
A.J. Griffin is another young arm for the A’s who has gotten himself off to a great start in 2013. With the exception of a seven run outburst by the Red Sox, Griffin has been as stingy as they come. It’s no surprise then that he has been able to post a record of 4-2. Expect him to pitch mostly to contact while generating more than his fair share of grounders.
Speaking of grounders, Justin Masterson takes the hill for the Tribe in game three. I won’t spend much time rehashing things. All I’ll say is that Masterson has been the rock the Indians needed at the top of their rotation for some time now. Other than a minor hiccup against the Royals, Masterson has been as dominant as they come in 2013. Look for that to continue against the A’s
- Game 4: Bartolo Colon (3-1, 3.62/3.80) vs. Scott Kazmir (1-1, 6.28/4.01)
On Thursday we will all get to say hello to an old friend. Former Indian Bartolo Colon takes the bump for the A’s looking to build on what has been a great start to the 2013 season. Colon is still throwing as hard as ever. He also still looks like the same, rotund pitcher we came to know and lover a little over a decade ago. So far this season he has been great, but one has to think that after all these years Colon has to be ready to break down.
Finally, Scott Kazmir will take the mound for the Indian for the second series in a row. He is coming off of a great start against the Twins in which he stuck out 7 while allowing only 2 earned runs over the course of 6 innings of work. It was this version of Kazmir that I and many other fans anticipated seeing earlier this Spring. Let’s hope he can build on that positive mojo and turn in another outstanding performance for the Tribe.
Players to Watch: Indians
Carlos Santana: Santana is easily the hottest Indian right now. He is hitting the ball with authority, but also taking more than his fair share of walks. It’s a nice change from the Santana we’ve been forced to watch for the better part of two years. Here’s hoping that Santana’s hot streak stretches even further than it has already.
Players to Watch: A’s
Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes is a bona fide super-star in the making. He has been better than advertised after defecting for the U.S. out of Cuba. He is a true five-tool player. As previously mentioned, he is a special player who needs to find a way to stay on the field for a full season. Anyways, keep an eye on him as the series progresses. Cespedes is the A’s best player and he is bound to be in the middle of a lot of their scoring threats.