The Cleveland Indians will look to make it thirteen-straight victories over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, as Josh Tomlin takes the mound for the Tribe. Cleveland is coming off of a 6-0 win yesterday which saw an incredible inside-the-park home run from Edwin Encarnacion. It was Encarnacion's third home run of the season, reaching that mark in thirteen fewer games than he did in 2017. Overall, it was a solid day for the offense and was the third-straight game in which the team scored four or more runs.
Getting the start for Los Angeles is righty Garrett Richards, who makes his second start of the 2018 campaign. Richards lasted five innings against Oakland on Opening Day, giving up seven hits and four earned runs along with two home runs. Richards only started six games last season due to nerve irritation in his bicep after suffering an elbow injury in 2016.
Let's look at three keys to a Tribe victory out on the West Coast:
1. Slowing Down The Angels Offense- The Angels have a good amount of heavy-hitters in their lineup, from Albert Pujols and Mike Trout to newcomer Shohei Ohtani. After stifling Los Angeles' bats for nine innings on Monday, they'll look to come out swinging early on. That's why it's imperative for Josh Tomlin to be cautious and precise with his pitch placement.
Tomlin has an even 3.00 ERA in six starts against the Angels, only allowing four walks overall. Ever the accurate hurler, Tomlin rarely allows batters to reach base off of a shaky at-bat. Tomlin makes sure that his pitches paint corners and leave hitters wondering where the strike zone begins. Playing against a hungry offense, he'll have to be on his "A" game tonight. Getting through six innings would be a solid enough start, with anything past that being the icing on the cake.
2. Keep Producing At The Dish- After an Opening Night clunker that saw the Indians only score one run in a marvelous outing for Corey Kluber, the offense has decided to put that performance behind them and haven't looked back.
Since that loss to Seattle, Cleveland has produced sixteen runs and it's been accomplished through plenty of different players. In terms of the long-ball, Edwin Encarnacion (3), Yonder Alonso (2), Yan Gomes, and Tyler Naquin have all gone yard through the first four games. Along with those guys, Bradley Zimmer and Francisco Lindor have also assisted in bringing in runs. The offense is clicking right now and is showing no signs of slowing down in this short span.
3. Jose, Where Are You?- After a stellar 2017 campaign that saw him finish third in MVP voting, Jose Ramirez is nowhere to be found in the heart of the Cleveland lineup. Yes, that's correct, Ramirez is in a mighty slump.
It's odd to see someone go hitless so early in the season but that's where the Indians third basemen currently stands. In seventeen plate appearances, Jose has yet to record a single hit and has walked just twice. It's not something that should last much longer but is obviously frustrating for both Ramirez and the team. When he's on, the entire offense is fueled off of his energy. But for right now, they've had to find other ways to score while the slugger looks for his swing.