The Cleveland Indians have been scuffling a bit lately following their great start to this year, but they picked up a win in the opener of their Battle of Ohio series in Cincinnati Friday night that helped them retake the lead in the AL Central. The Tribe will be looking to hold on to first place when they meet up with the Reds again Saturday afternoon (4:10 pm Eastern, Fox).
The Indians took the opener of this series Friday night 8-2, getting home runs from Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana and eight good innings from starting pitcher Justin Masterson.
Playing in a National League ballpark the Indians did not have the services of Travis Hafner's bat Friday night, but they didn't need it, banging out 12 hits.
Cleveland is now 4-0 against the Reds this season, outscoring them 27-11.
Overall, the Indians, at 43-37, lead the AL Central by a half-game over the second-place Detroit Tigers.
Cincy, meanwhile, at 42-41, sits in fourth place in the NL Central, three games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Fausto Carmona (4-10, 5.89) will start Saturday for the Tribe against Homer Bailey (3-2, 3.86) for Cincy.
Carmona has been lousy this year, with just seven quality starts in 17 outings. And while he had worked his ERA down to 3.83 back in early May, it jumped to 5.98 after a string of bad starts. But he pitched fairly well his last time out, allowing three earned runs on seven hits in six innings vs. San Francisco last Sunday.
Carmona started once vs. the Reds last year, giving up three ER on five hits in six innings of work.
Cleveland is 6-11 in Carmona's starts this season, the over/unders 10-7.
Bailey missed the first month of this season with a sore shoulder, made five starts, then went back on the DL after tweaking his shoulder again. His first start back didn't go too well, as he gave up five ER on nine hits (two homers) in five innings vs. Baltimore last Sunday. On the season Bailey is three-for-six in quality starts, although his WHIP is a respectable 1.14.
Bailey made one start vs. Cleveland last year, and got clipped for three ER on four hits in just 2 1/3 innings. But in a start vs. the Indians back in May Bailey held them to two ER on four hits in seven innings.
Cincy is 3-3 in Bailey's starts this year, the O/Us 5-1.
As of Saturday morning BetOnline.com is listing the Reds as -155 favorites for Saturday afternoon's game, with an over/under of nine.
Cleveland is 19-23 on the road this season, while Cincinnati is 22-20 at home.
The over/unders are 39-37 in Indians games this season, 44-35 in Reds games, and 24-15 in games played at the Great American Ballpark, which have averaged 9.8 runs per game.
On the personnel front the Indians are playing without closer Chris Perez, who's on the bereavement list because of a death in his family.
As for Saturday's game we're not sure who's going to win, but we'll take the over and hope a nice hot day in Cincy leads to some balls flying out of the yard.