MLB

Tigers-Indians Preview

Strong starting pitching has helped the Cleveland Indians enjoy some early success against the Detroit Tigers.

Hoping Trevor Bauer can continue that trend by halting his struggles against the visiting Tigers, the Indians try to complete a second three-game sweep of their AL Central foe Thursday night.

Corey Kluber tossed a five-hitter and Cleveland (12-12) scored all its runs in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 4-0 victory. The Indians, who lost three in a row prior to this set, own a 29-8 scoring advantage while going 5-0 against the Tigers (14-12) in 2016.

Cleveland starters have yielded four runs while striking out 28 and walking three over 32 1/3 innings against Detroit this season. Bauer (1-0, 5.28 ERA), though, has a 6.94 ERA in going 2-2 over seven starts against the Tigers.

The right-hander wasn't much better in relief April 24 at Detroit, when he gave up two runs and four hits over 3 1/3 innings but managed to earn the win.

In his first 2016 start at Philadelphia on Saturday, Bauer yielded three runs, five hits and two walks over four-plus innings and 78 pitches of the 4-3 loss.

Despite those numbers, Bauer saw at least something positive to take forward.

"I thought I hit my spots pretty well (Saturday), actually," he told MLB's official website. "I feel like if I throw the ball that way all year, I'll have a good year."

Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez have had good career success against Bauer, going a combined 14 for 35 with a home run each. Kinsler, though, is 2 for 18 in four games and Martinez 3 for 22 in the last five.

Batting an AL-leading .378, Nick Castellanos had two hits Wednesday for the Tigers, who have totaled three runs in the series after they averaged 7 to win the previous five contests.

Michael Fulmer looks to help the Tigers salvage a game while trying to build on a solid major league debut Friday at Minnesota. The right-hander allowed two runs in five innings of a 9-2 victory.

"He did his job," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He did exactly what we wanted him to do."

Though Shane Greene appears close to returning from a blister that landed him on the disabled list, Ausmus feels comfortable giving Fulmer another start.

"We felt like he earned another chance," Ausmus said of last season's Eastern League Player of the Year. "The most important thing at the major league level is experience, so any experience he can have here is certainly helpful."

Fulmer faces a Cleveland lineup that includes Francisco Lindor, who was 6 for 11 in the previous three games before going 0 for 3 with a run scored Wednesday. He's 8 for 18 against the Tigers this season.

It's possible backup catcher Chris Gimenez could see action in his third stint with the Indians after they acquired him from Texas for cash Wednesday.

"Everyone knows him, and there's a lot of familiarity," manager Terry Francona said. "He played a lot last year (with Texas), and got some pretty good experience in the playoffs."

Gimenez, who played for Cleveland in 2009-10 and part of 2014, has yet to play this season after opening on the DL with a leg issue.

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