Friday, May 4, 2012
W2W4: Rangers at Cleveland Indians
By Richard Durrett
The Texas Rangers visit the Cleveland Indians for three games this weekend, starting tonight. Friday and Sunday's games can be heard on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and Saturday's game is on KSKY 660 AM (since Mavericks-Thunder Game 4 is that night). A few things to watch:
* Josh Hamilton (back stiffness) and Adrian Beltre (hamstring) are off the Toronto turf and going to the grass in Cleveland. Rangers manager Ron Washington has taken the cautious (and smart) approach to not taking any chances with those guys this early in the season. But we'll see if both get back in action now.
* Colby Lewis returns to the mound tonight and has quality starts in all five of his outings this season. He has just one start at Progressive Field in Cleveland the past three season and he gave up two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings with four walks and 10 strikeouts.
* Elvis Andrus comes in red hot after going 7-for-14 against Toronto. He's hitting the ball to the middle of the field and looks extremely comfortable at the plate.
* Ian Kinsler was just 3-for-40 (one of those hits a HR) last year against Cleveland pitching.
* Nelson Cruz is still looking to hit his stride. He's batting .224 with two homers and 11 RBIs this season.
* Derek Holland, coming off two starts where he's struggled, gets another shot this weekend as well. He pitches Saturday against Derek Lowe.
* As for the Indians, they are the surprise AL Central leaders this early in the season at 13-10 and 1.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, the prohibitive favorite in the division.
* Cleveland's pitching staff has a 4.10 ERA (eighth in the AL), while Texas has a 3.25 ERA (second). The Indians are hitting .243 as a team (Rangers hitting .288) and are tied for seventh in runs scored.
* Asdrubal Cabrera leads the Indians in batting average at .301, but their top offensive producer so far in 2012 is second baseman Jason Kipnis, who has a team-high four homers, 17 RBIs and 26 hits.