MIAMI: The Detroit Tigers come to Progressive Field for four games starting tonight, and the Indians think they are ready to put a dent in the Tigers’ three-game American League Central Division lead.
“This is really exciting,” manager Terry Francona said. “We get to play the best team in our division and see what we can do.”
So far, that hasn’t been much, with the Tigers holding a 9-3 lead in the season series.
“They’re the team to beat in our division,” Yan Gomes said. “It’s good to have some momentum going when you play them.”
The Tigers have some momentum of their own, having won eight in a row and 12 of their past 13.
“I look forward to playing everybody, no matter who it is,” Michael Brantley said. “We have to defend our territory, then we’ll see where we stand after that.”
SHOULDERING THE LOAD — The shoulder soreness that plagued Chris Perez early in the season apparently has disappeared.
“It looks like that to me,” Francona said. “I haven’t been around him for years, but he looks like he’s throwing as good as ever.”
HE’S NO. 2 — Nick Swisher seems to be adapting to the second spot in the batting order, and why not? He’s done it before.
“I like it,” Francona said. “I don’t think he’s gotten hot yet, but with [Michael Bourn] running [in the leadoff spot], Swisher sees a lot of pitches.”
Since Swisher moved from the cleanup spot, he is batting .280 with a .352 on-base percentage and two home runs in 12 games.
FARM FACTS — Daisuke Matsuzaka (4-6, 3.80 ERA) gave up one run and three hits in seven innings, striking out seven, as Columbus defeated Toledo 5-1 in Class AAA. Jeremy Hermida doubled, singled and had two RBI. ... Cody Anderson (8-4, 2.48 ERA) gave up two runs and six hits in five innings in Carolina’s 2-0 loss to Frederick. ... Eric Haase hit his 12th homer of the year in Lake County’s 8-3 loss to Great Lakes in Class A. ... Robert Whitenack (3-4, 3.86 ERA) gave up two earned runs (three total) and four hits in six innings, as Mahoning Valley beat Connecticut 6-3 in Class A. Juan Romero homered and drove in two runs.
— Sheldon Ocker