With the city still basking in the glow of its first major professional sports championship in 52 years, Cleveland’s baseball team has now caught fire.
You can make it three straight sweeps and nine straight wins for the Indians, who have outscored opponents 60-18 during this run, giving them the best run differential in the entire American League (+81) this season. Come playoff time, the rest of the AL will be hard-pressed to match this team’s starting rotation.
But as for right now, the Indians are following in the Cavaliers footsteps – quite literally. They just got done with Detroit and will next play Atlanta and Toronto. Sound familiar? Those are the same three cities that the Cavs went through en route to an Eastern Conference Championship. Like Cavs-Hawks, this Indians-Braves series has all the makings of a sweep for Cleveland, especially with the Braves being a ghastly 11-29 at Turner Field this season.
Show Me Something
The I-70 series is renewed this week with the Royals and Cardinals playing four games, starting Monday in Kansas City.
The series will shift to St. Louis on Wednesday. Though the two teams come in with identical records (39-35), the Cardinals’ run differential (+75) is vastly superior to that of the Royals (-15), so in my mind you can make them the favorite in this series. But while the Cards are 24-14 on the road and averaging 6.1 runs per game, KC’s 26-10 home record must be respected as well.
Interestingly, the Royals are just 18-31 at home vs. the Cardinals since the start of Interleague Play (remember they were bad for most of those years), but 13-12 at the new Busch Stadium. In the last 10 head to head meetings, there’s been only one time that more than seven total runs were scored.
Revenge in the Outfield
The Angels just avoided what could have been an embarrassing four-game sweep (at home) against the A’s (won 7-6 Sunday in final at-bat). The Astros just lost for the first time in eight games Sunday, 6-1 at Kansas City.
That makes this week’s three-game series in Angel Stadium sound promising for the road team, but beware the revenge angle as Los Angeles certainly remembers being swept last week in Minute Maid Park. Despite its recent resurgence, Houston still has a losing road record (17-22 this season).
WAG of the Week
Here is a bit of a throwback with former Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brain Roberts’ wife Diana.
* The move was long overdue, but Trevor Rosenthal is no longer the Cardinals closer. In 24 innings of work, Rosenthal had allowed 28 hits and issued 21 walks. It’s always key to remember the bullpens, so keep an eye on this situation when handicapping Cards-Royals this week.
* There’s a big series set to take place in the Nation’s Capital this week with the Nationals hosting the Mets. Even after losing seven of eight, the Nats still have a three-game edge in the NL East standings, but when you look at how the home team’s starting rotation sets up this week, you won’t see the name Stephen Strasburg. Washington’s ace has been scratched twice in the last seven days due to back issues and is now heading to the disabled list, which is absolutely a troubling sign if you’re a Nats fan. The Nats are 13-1 with Strasburg on the hill this season, but just 31-31 in all other games.
* Look for the Reds to trade Jay Bruce shortly. The team is going nowhere, but Bruce’s bat could certainly be useful for a contending team. He just hit his 17th home run on Sunday and has a slash line of .279/.328/.581. This week, Cincinnati hosts a Cubs team that all of a sudden has lost five of its last six games.
* The Tampa Bay Rays have now lost 11 straight games after being swept by the Orioles over the weekend. Injuries have decimated their lineup with five hitters currently on the disabled list, including team batting average leader Steve Pearce. They’d gone nine straight games without scoring more than four runs before the last two. Things get no easier this week as the Red Sox come calling.
The Under is a perfect 5-0 for Michael Shoemaker in June. The Angels hurler will toe the rubber Monday against Houston.
Monday’s Weather Report:
* There is a chance of thunderstorms and a 60 percent chance of rain in Washington where the Nats and Mets will open their series Monday evening. There will also be a 5-10 mph wind blowing out to left field. The total is set at 7.5.
* Turner Field in Atlanta will be the site for Monday’s game between the Braves and the Cleveland Indians. There is a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast and a 50 percent chance of rain. The total is set at 8.0.
* There is a chance of thunderstorms and a 30 percent chance of rain in Denver where the Rockies will host the Toronto Blue Jays in interleague action. There will also be a 5-10 mph breeze blowing in from right field. The total is set at 11.5.