The Cleveland Indians hope the comforts of home will help them turn around their recent fortunes.
The Indians return from a three-city, 10-day road trip on Monday to play the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Detroit Tigers.
Cleveland won eight of its previous nine games at home before enduring a particularly rough road trip. The Indians sustained their second straight loss and fifth in eight games with an 8-2 setback against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
The outcome wasn’t the only cause for concern for Cleveland, which saw right fielder Josh Naylor sustain a severe right leg injury following a collision with rookie second baseman Ernie Clement. Naylor was writhing around in intense pain before being carted off the field and sent to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
“It’s hard,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You saw the way he (Naylor) reacted. It’s hard to not react to that. Everybody’s certainly thinking about him. I was worried about Ernie, too. Ernie had a pretty good cut on his chin. We’ll get more information and we know that he’ll be in the best care possible, which is fortunate. We’ll get him fixed.”
Eddie Rosario carries a 13-game hitting streak into Monday’s encounter versus Detroit, against which he is 12-for-34 with two homers and 10 RBIs this season. Rosario’s strong play in the series has helped the Indians win seven of the 10 meetings thus far between the American League Central rivals.
As for the Tigers, they have won five of their last seven games following a 2-1 victory in 10 innings over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Robbie Grossman’s squeeze bunt plated rookie Akil Baddoo with the winning run to help Detroit salvage a split of the four-game series.
“This just confirms what we tell these guys every day — this is a good baseball team,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We were terrible in April, and we don’t need to revisit that, but now we are competitive against good teams and good pitching.”
Although Baddoo had a hand in Detroit’s victory on Sunday, he is just 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts against the Indians this season.
Baddoo will try his luck against Cleveland rookie right-hander Eli Morgan (0-2, 10.32 ERA), who will continue his quest for his first major-league victory when he takes the mound Monday.
Morgan struggled in his first two starts before beginning his latest outing with promise.
The 25-year-old retired the first 10 batters he faced on Tuesday before surrendering a solo homer to Kris Bryant. He then retired the next five batters before the bottom fell out in the sixth inning of what ended up being a 7-1 setback to the Chicago Cubs.
“I was cruising through five,” Morgan said following that game after being charged with four runs on as many hits in five-plus innings.
“In the blink of an eye, I’m out of the game with three more runs on the board. That’s something I have to continue to get better at, making sure that I have a game plan for each inning, for each batter and finding a way to be my sharpest from pitch 1.”
Morgan will be facing the Tigers for the first time in his young career.
Detroit rookie right-hander Matt Manning (1-1, 3.38) picked up his first victory while making his second career start on Wednesday. He permitted two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Manning, 23, will be making his first appearance against Cleveland on Monday.
–Field Level Media