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PREVIEW: Indians welcome Blue Jays to town

Corey Perez

CLEVELAND– Winners of five straight the Cleveland Indians (8-5) head into their weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays (8-5) hoping the heat from their bats stays as warm as the expected temperatures.

Time: 7:10 p.m.

Starting Pitchers: CLE Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.71) vs. TOR Marcus Stroman (0-1, 8.38)

TV:  SportsTime Ohio

Online: MLB.TV

Radio: WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM, Indians Radio Network

Following Tuesday’s win over the Detroit Tigers, the Indians were struggling to get their bats going as they had been held to four hits or less in each of their first few wins. Luckily for Tribe fans, the bats came alive on Wednesday and Thursday as the Indians combined for 25 hits and 14 runs to close out the four-game sweep of Detroit.

Friday night’s matchup with the Blue Jays pairs them against Marcus Stroman, who is (0-1) on the season with an 8.38 ERA. The right-hander is usually a very solid starter for Toronto but has struggled in both his starts this season. Stroman experienced shoulder inflammation during spring training, thus causing the Blue Jays to alter their rotation. Stroman hopes to turn things around Friday night when he matches up with the Indians offense. Unfortunately for Stroman and the Blue Jays, the Indians are 6-1 in their first seven games of their 10-game homestand, with the lone loss coming in a game where Trevor Bauer pitched a gem, but the Tribe couldn’t get their bats going.

What to Watch”

1. Starting pitching

While the weather and the offense will steal most of the headlines this weekend, the big story should be the success of the Indians starting pitching.

Coming into play on Friday the Indians boast the second best team ERA in the American league at 2.84. Along with having one of the lowest team ERAs, the Indians also are holding opposing hitters to a .209 average good for the third in the AL.

Mike Clevinger, who is making his third start of the season, will take the mound on Friday. He won against the Kansas City Royals in his last start while being held to a no-decision in his first start against the Angles. Clevinger really seems to be coming into his own as a starter, as he is continuing the success that he tasted into last season.

In 2017 Clevinger was one of the surprises in the Cleveland rotation, but this year is looking to go deeper into games. Friday will mark the second time the Blue Jays have faced Clevinger, with the other being a relief appearance in 2016 where Clevinger pitched one and one-third scoreless innings en route to a 3-2 Indians victory.

2. Edwin’s struggles

Cleveland Indians DH Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .65 (2-31) in his last nine games coming into the match-up vs his former team. Encarnacion still leads all Tribe hitters with three home runs, but his last long ball came on April 2.

3. JRam turnaround?

Coming into the series with the Tigers, Jose Ramirez was struggling mightily at the plate (.080; 2-of-25.) Now coming into the three game set with the Blue Jays, Ramirez has hit .384 (5-of-13) in his last four games. The Indians offense goes as Ramirez and Lindor go, so getting those two going is key for the Tribes success.

Series lookahead:

  • Saturday vs. Toronto (Corey Kluber vs. Jaime Garcia)
  • Sunday vs. Toronto (Josh Tomlin vs. J.A. Happ)
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