CLEVELAND - The Indians and Cubs are set to wrap up a short two-game set at Progressive Field this evening, and while rain fell most of the evening on Tuesday, the game was played without any delay.
The Indians played Tuesday like they were stuck in the mud.
Thanks to four homers by the Cubs, the Tribe was beaten soundly by the team they lost to in the World Series two years ago, losing to Chicago by a score of 10-3.
Josh Tomlin was roughed up again, and right now he's the only starter on the roster not doing his part, as he's still trying to find himself sitting at 0-3 sporting an ERA over nine.
The offense did little against Tyler Chatwood, and Wednesday it won't get any easier against lefty Jon Lester.
Here's a quick preview of the short set as the Indians will get ready for a four-game series starting tomorrow evening against the Seattle Mariners.
1. Back to Bauer
The Tribe will get Trevor Bauer on the mound on Wednesday, and he's coming off a start in Baltimore on Friday in which he gave up three runs on five hits, with six strikeouts and three walks in a Tribe 3-1 loss to the O's.
Bauer hasn't been all that bad thus far in 2018, but he's sitting at 1-2 on the year with a 2.67 ERA. Bauer did have a good outing in his only regular season start against the Cubs back in 2015, pitching seven shutout innings on four hits, with seven strikeouts and three walks in an Indians 6-0 win.
He didn't fare as well in the 2016 World Series, going 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. He's sitting at 7-5 with 3.03 ERA in 20 starts in interleague action, and hopefully will improve on that this evening.
In 21 career appearances (20 starts) in interleague games, Bauer is 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA.
2. Indians Vs the Lefty Lester
Jon Lester is a pitcher the Indians have seen plenty of times over the years, and have had very little success against him, making the chance to score runs even more important tonight.
The Cubs lefty is a lifetime 7-1 against the Indians in 15 starts, sporting a 3.03 ERA. The Tribe did get to him for a win in the 2016 World Series, and in the seven-game classic he was 1-1 against the Tribe with a 3.68 ERA.
So far in 2018 Lester is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA, and was dominant in his last start on April 19th against the Cardinals, not allowing an earned run in six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out seven.
It will be big for the Tribe to work the count on him and get some base runners early this evening.
3. Can the Middle of the Lineup Produce?
One player in the top of the order that has finally started to produce is Jose Ramirez, as he's raised his average nearly 80 points in the last five games, but the three after JRam have to get more consistent.
Yonder Alonso had a solid couple of games after the Friday night loss, hitting two homers and he looks like he's seeing the ball better despite going 0-for-4 Tuesday.
One player that's just not doing anything it seems on at the plate right now is Edwin Encarnacion, as despite an infield hit and RBI on Tuesday he's still hitting just .154 and has a team leading 26 strikeouts.
Encarnacion has struck out two times in 7 of his last 13 games, and in some of those instances the team could have used him just getting a bat on the ball to move runners over.
Last night it was Tyler Naquin getting the shot at the 6 hole in the lineup, and he was 0-for-2 before being lifted for Brandon Guyer in the 8th, who hit into an inning ending double play.
In 42 career starts in interleague games, Lester is 20-12, with a 3.36 ERA.