CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Cleveland Indians have had a rather interesting start to the 2018 season, starting the campaign with a 4-5 record. After dropping back-to-back series to the Mariners and Angels, the Tribe picked up their first series victory over the Kansas City Royals. Now sitting with a 2-1 at home, the Indians will look to improve that record against the visiting Detroit Tigers.
Fresh off of a Yan Gomes walk-off victory on Sunday afternoon, Cleveland will try to turn that into some offensive momentum for their ace, Corey Kluber, in Monday's contest. Kluber hasn't had a lot of run support to begin his year and has got the short end of the stick twice already this season due to one costly mistake.
After starting their campaign off with a 1-4 mark, the Tigers are now even at 4-4 following a sweep of the Chicago White Sox. The trio of Joe Jimenez, Michael Fulmer, and Mike Fiers helped lead the Detroit pitching staff to a three-game stretch in which they allowed just about two runs. Now, the Tigers will hand the rock over to Francisco Liriano.
Here are our three keys to a Cleveland victory on another chilly day in Northeast Ohio.
1. Scoring For The Ace- As mentioned above, the Indians have not produced runs when Corey Kluber has taken the mound so far this season. In fifteen innings worked, Kluber has only seen his offense bring home three runs during two starts. It's left the Tribe's ace with no room for error and that's never good for a pitcher, no matter how talented.
With eyes now on a struggling offense, one would think there has to be a breakthrough eventually. Important bats such as Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis have been extremely quiet and it's affected the heart of the offense. Those two only have six combined hits and with both being in the top four of the lineup, it's becoming a bad trend to start games.
While the weather hasn't been ideal in Cleveland, the Indians are hoping that something breaks the cold spell that has been cast on the bats of Ramirez and Kipnis.
2. Mind Over Matter- The bats haven't been good for Cleveland but the weather does certainly have a factor in that. It has been frigid at Progressive Field to the point one would think they'd be attending a Browns game in December. Heck, Sunday's game was the coldest game in the history of Progressive Field. To an extent, the freezing temperatures have been a problem.
But it was mentioned numerous times throughout the series with Kansas City, especially by former Indian Rick Manning, that the team just can't think about how cold it is. Despite it being chilly, a game is still needed to play and whoever gets the thought of the current playing condition out of their heads first will win the ballgame. With Detroit already accustomed to the cold, there's going to be no surprise in terms of the surroundings. That means the Tribe will have to imagine summer days while bracing the unfortunate conditions.
3. Continuing Good Times Against Detroit- After a bunch of years struggling against the Tigers, Cleveland finally has found some success against their AL Central foe. Over the course of the last two seasons, the Indians have gone 27-10 against Detroit. It might not seem like a big deal to the national media, but topping Detroit has always been the Achilles heel of the Tribe.
Monday marks the first time the two teams will see each other this season. Can Cleveland continue to roll against a Tigers team prepping for the future?