The red-hot Cleveland Indians hold a three-game lead atop the American League Central but face a division rival that is also heating up when they visit the Detroit Tigers on Friday night in the opener of a three-game set. The Indians are riding a six-game winning streak while the Tigers are coming off a four-game sweep of visiting Seattle.
Cleveland owns the AL’s second-best run differential at plus-67 after outscoring the Rays 19-5 during the three-game sweep, which was capped by consecutive complete-game three-hitters from Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. “Guys are having fun,” Bauer said. “Guys are playing well, which contributes to the fun. Hopefully we can keep it going.” The Tigers have lost all six meetings between the clubs in a two-week span this season, getting outscored 38-12, but they are four games behind Cleveland following the sweep of the Mariners that included a pair of extra-inning victories. Detroit sends Jordan Zimmermann to the mound Friday to face Danny Salazar, who owns the second-lowest ERA in the AL.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Detroit
Indians – LF M. Brantley (15-Day DL, bicep).
Tigers – RF J. Martinez (15-Day DL, elbow).
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for Friday evening in Detroit looks absolutely perfect. Clear skies, warm temps (mid-80’s), low humidity, only a 1 percent chance of rain, and a 2-3 mph breeze blowing in from left field.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Danny Salazar (8-3, 2.23 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 3.24)
Salazar won his fourth consecutive start by holding the Chicago White Sox to two runs and five hits while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings on Saturday. While Salazar has allowed six runs during the four-game winning streak, his teammates are giving him little reason to sweat by amassing 38 runs in that span. Miguel Cabrera is 9-for-26 with two homers and 10 strikeouts versus Salazar, who owns a 2-4 record and 4.55 ERA in 10 starts against Detroit.
Zimmermann turned in his best effort in weeks, limiting Kansas City to one run on four hits over a season high-tying eight innings last time out, although he did not factor in the decision. It was a strong bounce-back effort for Zimmermann, who was shelled for 13 runs and 21 hits over his previous two turns. Zimmermann is 5-2 with a 4.43 ERA in seven starts at Comerica Park this season and won his only appearance versus Cleveland in 2013 despite giving up six runs.
* Indians are 6-0 in their last 6 overall.
* Indians are 11-1 in Salazar’s last 12 Friday starts.
* Tigers are 8-1 in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Tigers are 5-1 in Zimmermann’s last 6 starts vs. American League Central.
* Under is 8-1-2 in Salazars last 11 road starts.
* Indians are 6-0 in the last 6 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Early Covers wagering is on the home team as the Tigers are picking up 52 percent of the wagers on Covers. The public is really torn on the total as well, with 51 percent of the picks on the Over. View full consensus data here.