MLB Insiders: Cleveland Indians

The Pirates open a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians on Friday night at PNC Park. Lefty Paul Maholm will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Tribe counters with right-hander Fausto Carmona.

Pittsburgh needs something to help snap the club's second-longest losing streak in 55 years. A visit from the Cleveland Indians could help.

The Pirates hope to continue their recent interleague success over the Indians and avoid a 12th straight loss as the last-place teams open a weekend series Friday night at PNC Park.

The Pirates could be in for a challenge against Indians scheduled starter Fausto Carmona (5-5, 3.23 ERA).

The right-hander snapped a personal four-game losing streak with a three-hitter in a 7-1 win over Washington on Saturday.

Carmona, 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in interleague play this season, makes his first start against Pittsburgh. He pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings of relief versus the Pirates in 2006.

Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm (4-4, 3.63) makes his second appearance against Cleveland on Friday. He allowed one run and struck out seven in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2, 10-inning loss at Cleveland on May 21, 2006.

The left-hander, 1-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his last four starts, gave up one run in six innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss at Detroit on Saturday.

The Indians finished a 10-game homestand Thursday night with a 6-4 loss to the Mets. The Indians were 4-6 on the homestand, losing the last four, including getting swept in their three-game series with the Mets.

The one constant in the series, and during the Indians' four-game losing streak overall, was poor starting pitching. In the four consecutive losses, Cleveland starting pitchers had an 8.88 ERA.

In the three losses to the Mets, the Indians' three starters -- Justin Masterson, Mitch Talbot and Jake Westbrook -- all gave up double figures in hits. The Indians were basically playing catch-up in all three games.

Poor starting pitching is particularly damaging because Cleveland's offense has struggled all year to score runs. The Indians have scored three runs or fewer in 29 of their 65 games.

Because the team has trouble scoring runs, come-from-behind wins are rare. So that puts an even greater emphasis on getting good starting pitching and solid defense, but the Indians weren't very consistent in either area during the homestand.

METS 6, INDIANS 4: RHP Jake Westbrook gave up three runs on six hits in the first inning, and the Indians trailed from start to finish as the Mets completed a sweep. OF Shin-Soo Choo had three of Cleveland's 10 hits.

NOTES, QUOTES

--DH Travis Hafner will not start any of the Indians' next nine games. The Indians begin a nine-game interleague road trip Friday. The DH will not be used in any of the games, so Hafner will be limited to pinch-hitting duty. Manager Manny Acta said he intends to get Hafner at least one at-bat in each game, regardless of the situation, in hopes of keeping Hafner from getting stale.

--RHP Jake Westbrook gave up 11 hits and five runs in losing to the Mets on Thursday. Westbrook became the third consecutive Indians starter to give up double figures in hits in the Mets series.

--OF Trevor Crowe was not in the starting lineup Thursday due to a bruised right knee, the result of fouling a ball off the knee Tuesday. Crowe did pinch-hit in the ninth inning, and manager Manny Acta says he expects Crowe to be able to play Friday.

--OF Austin Kearns' infield single in the third inning Thursday snapped his 0-for-16 streak.

--C Carlos Santana had two doubles Thursday. In his first six major league games, Santana is 6-for-22 (.273) with three doubles, one home run, four RBI and four walks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 28 -- Batters RHP Fausto Carmona faced in his three-hit, 7-1 win over Washington on June 12. Carmona is the first Indians pitcher to face 28 men in a nine-inning game since LHP Billy Traber on July 8, 2003.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He dominated. Flat-out dominated." -- Manager Manny Acta, after RHP Fausto Carmona pitched a three-hitter over Washington on June 12.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--OF Trevor Crowe (bruised right knee) did not play June 16. He appeared as a pinch hitter June 17, and he might return to the lineup June 18.

--CF Grady Sizemore (bone bruise in left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 17, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 1. He underwent season-ending microfracture surgery June 4.

--SS Asdrubal Cabrera (fractured left forearm) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 19, the same day he underwent surgery.

--RHP Anthony Reyes (Tommy John elbow surgery in June 2009) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 24. He isn't expected back until after the All-Star break.


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