In a rebuilding year, the Cleveland Indians (29-30) are in unfamiliar territory, sitting in third place in the American League Central division (4.5 games behind the first place Minnesota Twins). The Tribe are on somewhat of a hot streak, winning 9 of their last 13 games despite losing two of the last three games to the Twins.
Despite the recent offensive surge(?) by the Mets (scoring 10 runs in their last three games), New York is gaining ground in the race towards offensive futility! The Mets are now 13th in the NL in runs scored (237)...the only category that truly counts. They were recently passed by the Milwaukee Brewers. Only the Padres, Cubs, and Pirates have scored fewer runs in the National League.
After five straight losses, its Al Leiter's chance to stop the bleeding. Leiter (5-5, 3.39 ERA) will start the series off against Danys Baez (5-4, 4.45 ERA) and the Indians. Leiter is coming off three poor starts, going 14.2 innings and allowing 16 runs in that span. His ERA has jumped from 1.74 to 3.39 since May 22.
Steve Trachsel (3-6. 3.91 ERA) matches up against 39-year old Chuck Finley (4-6, 3.99 ERA). There were several question marks about Finley after missing a large part of last season, but he has been the Indian's second best starter this season.
Shawn Estes (2-4, 4.36 ERA) faces Ryan Drese (5-4, 5.94 ERA) in the final game of the series. Both have been their teams' most inconsistant starters. After pitching in nine games in 2001, Drese made the Indian's rotation, but has yet to be as effective as hoped. Batters have a .862 OPS against him.
A Closer Look
Roberto Alomar heads to his home for the past three years. Alomar has expressed public affection for Jacob's field in Cleveland, and it is obvious that he felt comfortable there. In his three seasons as an Indian, Alomar batted .324 in Jacob's field ith a .405 OBP and a .496 SLG. Not bad for a for a corner outfielder, let alone a second baseman. Here is the interesting part; as much as he claims to love Jacob's field, and as much as it considered a hitter's park, Alomar hit better away from Cleveland in those three years. His batting average (.321) and on base percentages (.405) were almost the same, but he slugged .535 on the road while with the Tribe. Interesting.
Meanwhile, this year is very much the opposite. Shea Stadium is a pitcher's park and not very comforatable to play in, yet Alomar is actually hitting .300 with a .744 OPS at home, while he's hitting .234 with a .619 OPS on the road. Maybe a return to Cleveland will get his bat working on the road.
Indians 1B Jim Thome has 18 HRs in 196 at-bats this season. All of the Mets 1B the last year and a half have a combined total of 18!!! C Mike Piazza had to leave Thursday's game in the 6th inning due to "lightheadedness"...OF Jeromy Burnitz, now hitting .198 on the season, hit .161 and has just 4 RBI in his last 28 games....Despite hitting a decent .286 in his last 11 games, 3B Edgardo Alfonzo has just ONE RBI during that span.