Thursday, 7:35 PM: C.C. Sabathia (12-4, 3.78) vs. Kameron Loe (5-7, 5.49)
After a series of successful outings, Kameron Loe blew a tire and suffered his first loss in five starts last weekend against the Angels. Along with allowing five runs in that abbreviated outing, Loe's control vanished and he issued five walks to the opposition, finishing one short of his career high set in 2005 against those same Angels. In fact, he didn't throw a strike until his ninth pitch of the game. Loe really needs to work on his numbers at home, where he is just 2-4 with a 5.93 ERA in 12 games. Also, he's still being hit hard by lefties (.318) and opponents are batting .307 with runners in scoring position. Lifetime against Cleveland, he is 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in three career games.
The Rangers may have picked a good time to face Thursday's starter, C.C. Sabathia. The hefty lefty is coming off his second straight disappointing performance, allowing six runs over seven innings in a loss to an aggressive hitting Royals ballclub. His latest rough outing rises his runs allowed total to 13 over the last 11 innings, yet the All-Star has repeatedly admitted it's just a stretch every pitcher goes through and that there's nothing physically wrong with him. In 10 career starts against the Rangers, Sabathia is 6-2 with a 4.72 ERA.
Friday, 7:35 PM: Fausto Carmona (11-4, 3.77) vs. Brandon McCarthy (4-6, 5.59)
He's back and he's been pitching reasonably well as of late, but Brandon McCarthy remains in search of his first victory since May 20th. He turned in a good performance against the Angels last week, allowing four runs on six hits over six innings, but left with a no-decision. At home, McCarthy is 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA, but he's held opponents to a surprisingly low .208 average. When runners are in scoring position, opponents are hitting .271 off the righty, but just .176 with two outs. He's 3-1 with a 6.16 ERA in 10 games lifetime against the Tribe.
An little in-depth look at the splits of Fausto Carmona will reveal the following: In day games, he holds a record of 8-0 with a sterling 1.98 ERA in nine starts. At night, however, the twenty-three year old is 3-4 with a 6.00 ERA. The Indians aren't buying into those stats, claiming that it's just a statistical oddity and nothing more. But with 63 1/3 innings under his belt in the daytime and 51 at night, it's getting a little difficult to ignore. Still, the young Carmona was superb against the Royals in his last outing. In it, he surrendered just two runs over seven innings of work, and while he did give up eight hits, all but one of them went as singles. Carmona also induced an eyebrow-raising 14 groundball outs. He ended up the loser in his first and only career start against the Rangers back on April 24th of last year.
Saturday, 7:35 PM: Cliff Lee (5-6, 5.67) vs. Jamey Wright (3-2, 4.31)
Anybody else find it amazing that Jamey Wright not only holds the lowest earned run average in the starting rotation, but he's also the only guy with a winning record? Same here. Wright has won three of his last four starts and owns a 2.28 ERA in that time. Earlier this week in Oakland, Wright looked to be in good shape to record his first complete game in four years. Instead, he left with the lead in the seventh and the Rangers bullpen was able to preserve the victory. Nevertheless, his 14/18 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings with the Rangers should be an area concern.
Cliff Lee just flat-out hasn't been the dependable #3 guy in the rotation the Indians hoped he would be this year. Against the White Sox on Monday, Lee scuffled through the first two innings before it appeared he had worked out his problems and settled down. But Chicago exploded for nine runs in the sixth, chasing the left-hander from the ballgame. Lee's career numbers against the Rangers aren't pretty: He's 3-1 with a 5.64 ERA, including a 2-1 mark and 7.47 ERA in three previous starts in Arlington.
Sunday, 7:35 PM: Paul Byrd (7-4, 4.50) vs. Robinson Tejeda (5-8, 6.68)
While this most recent start wasn't without a few glimpses of the pitcher everybody thinks he can become, it was still just the same old story once again for Robinson Tejeda. He walked six Oakland batters this time around, and more than anything demonstrated the ugly tendency he has to just fire the ball towards the plate and not know where it'll end up. But while Tejeda allowed 10 base runners in just under five innings of work, the Rangers managed to find a way to win against a struggling A's team. When Vicente Padilla is healthy enough to return to the rotation, he may be the one who gets optioned to Triple-A. You've got to figure that may mark the end of the road for the 2007 version of Robinson Tejeda.
After winning four straight decisions to improve to 6-1 on May 30, the summer months of June and July have been cruel ones to Paul Byrd, who has just one win in each month covering a span of eight starts. Last week, he looked to be cruising through a brilliant masterpiece to his eighth win of the year. Byrd had the White Sox shut out on just a hit through the first four innings, and sent down nine straight after striking out Jermaine Dye to end the opening inning with the bases loaded. But Byrd hit a brick wall in the fifth inning and completely fell apart: In a two-out span, six of seven White Sox hitters reached base and four runs crossed the plate. The Rangers haven't been kind to Byrd in his career. In seven starts, he's 2-5 against Texas with a 7.02 ERA.