|Indians seek 15th straight win over Tigers|
The Indians have manhandled the Detroit Tigers this season, a trend Cleveland would like to see continue if it hopes to punch its ticket to the postseason in two weeks.
The Indians (87-63) aim to topple the Tigers (45-104) for the 15th straight time and 16th in 17 meetings this season on Tuesday when the American League Central rivals open a three-game series in Cleveland.
While the Indians' bid for a fourth consecutive division title took a hit after they dropped two of three to the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins over the weekend, Cleveland manager Terry Francona wants to see his charges put their best foot forward in their last dozen games.
"I'd like to see them have a good off day (Monday) because they deserve it," Francona said after Cleveland posted a 7-5 win over the Twins on Sunday. "And then we'll see if we can beat Detroit on Tuesday. That's the best way to go about it. In the meantime, we'll hope some teams lose, but I haven't figured out how to control that yet."
Cleveland resides five games behind Minnesota (92-58) after the Twins' 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday. The Indians are 1 1/2 behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL wild-card spot.
Indians catcher Roberto Perez belted a go-ahead, three-run homer on Sunday and finished the contest with his fifth multi-hit performance in his past 10 games. He is batting .406 (13-for-32) with two home runs and eight RBIs over that stretch.
"I'm glad the way my season is going well, but I just want to make the playoffs," Perez said. "You work for that. ... Just got to continue to come to the ballpark ready to play every day. Twelve games left. See if we make the playoffs."
Indians rookie outfielder Oscar Mercado has four multi-hit performances in his past five games and six in his past 11, batting .400 (18-for-45) with seven runs scored over the longer stretch. He is batting .320 (16-for-50) against Detroit this season.
Cleveland right-hander Adam Plutko (6-4, 4.42 ERA) will get the nod on Tuesday as he bids for his first win since Aug. 27, when he allowed one run on three hits and struck out a career-high nine in 5 2/3 innings of a 10-1 victory at Detroit.
The 27-year-old sports a 3-0 record with a 4.33 ERA in seven career appearances (four starts) versus the Tigers.
While the Indians are entertaining thoughts of the postseason, those aspirations were squashed long ago in Detroit.
The Tigers posted a 5-2 win on Monday to split a four-game series with the visiting Baltimore Orioles in a battle of baseball's two worst teams.
Detroit leadoff man Victor Reyes had a two-run double among his two hits in the contest to improve to 50-for-145 (.345) with 16 extra-base hits since Aug. 8.
"He's been playing great baseball, defensively and offensively, and another big day today swinging it," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire also said that Tuesday's scheduled starter, left-hander Matthew Boyd, will miss the series due to a "family emergency." Gardenhire said a replacement had yet to be determined.
--Field Level Media