The Cleveland Indians seem to have put it together in this 2018 season after a weird start. After battling to stay above .500 for the early parts of the campaign, the Tribe has rattled off a three-game winning streak. It started with two strong wins against a very talented Milwaukee Brewers team and has carried into this series against the rebuilding Detroit Tigers. Cleveland won last night's series opener by a final score of 4-1.
Jason Kipnis will be looking to carry the momentum into Saturday. Kipnis went yard for the fourth time this season, a blast that broke a 1-1 tie yesterday. It has been a tough start to the year at the plate for the Indians' second baseman. However, it's still early enough for him to turn it around and get going before he gets into too deep of a hole.
Here are our three keys to an Indians victory on Saturday:
1. Bring On The Sunshine
Mike Clevinger has truly blossomed into a steady starter for Cleveland. Clevinger has compiled a record of 16-8 and an ERA of 3.23 over the last two seasons. He's been lights out at points in time, allowing just zero, one or two runs in half of his contests. But he'll look to bounce back from his last outing against Minnesota.
In that outing against the Twins, Clevinger was caught for four runs on seven hits in six innings of work. He allowed two home runs as well, leading to an earlier exit than expected. That shouldn't be the case against the Tigers on Saturday.
Detroit's offense is one of the least fearsome lineups in the league, providing just small bursts of pop. That lack of serious danger will allow Clevinger to go into this start with an attacking mentality. A strong quality start should help Clevinger get back into his groove.
2. Finding Ways To Win On The Road
Cleveland is just 13-17 on the road this season, which isn't exactly great. It's helped lead the Tribe to their rather subpar record of 33-28. That will have to change going forward.
No one is suggesting the Tribe go on a ridiculous run that sees them win 40 of their last 51 road games. That's absurd. But let's hope they can at least steal some series on the road as the season progresses, especially against these lower-tier teams like Detroit.
The Indians are 1-6 in away series that are three-games or longer in this 2018 campaign. After the Tigers, they'll see the White Sox for four games. Things should start to change for the team's road misfortunes.
3. Frankie's Funk
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor would probably like a re-do on the start to his month of June. Fresh off of being named the AL Player Of The Month for May, Lindor has mustered just two hits through six games of June. In fact, Lindor is hitless over his last four games.
It isn't anything to panic about with Frankie. He's just in the midst of a cool down period of sorts after a scorching stretch at the dish. But as seen early on this month, Lindor really is a main cog in the Tribe's lineup. If he can't generate offense at the leadoff spot, it sets everyone back.