Blog Entry

3 to Watch: The Indian Central edition

Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:26 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 8:03 pm
The Tigers know better than most teams that early-season leads in the American League Central don't always hold.

Or they ought to.

They've been where the Indians are now. They've been the surprise team. They've been in first place in June.

They've been chased down, and they still haven't ever won an AL Central title (they went to the World Series as a wild card in 2006 and last won a division crown in the AL East in 1987).

The Tigers also know that it doesn't really get uncomfortable for the team in front until one of the chasing teams starts winning every day.

And that's why this could be a significant weekend in the Central.

The Indians are home against the Rangers, continuing the most difficult stretch of their schedule so far (with a trip to New York coming up next week).

Meanwhile, the Tigers have won four in a row. The White Sox just swept a three-game series in Boston.

And the Tigers and White Sox meet this weekend in Chicago.

So far, the Indians really haven't been challenged. They went just 14-12 in May, but entered the month 4 1/2 games in front and finished it with a five-game lead. They went 3-5 over the last eight games and lost just two games off their lead.

Can the Tigers put heat on them? Can the White Sox?

Maybe this weekend will give us a hint.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Remember when we were wondering if Fausto Carmona would pitch well enough to interest a contender in trading for him? Now we're asking if Carmona can pitch consistently enough for the contending Indians. While the rest of the rotation has been solid, the Indians' opening day starter is winless in five starts since May 3. Worse yet, he's getting worse, allowing 19 earned runs in 17 innings over his last three starts (all losses). Carmona is also winless in his last four starts against Texas, the team he'll face in Rangers at Indians, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field.

2. In April, the Tigers beat Mark Buehrle for the first time in nine starts since July 2007. Saturday, the White Sox will try to beat Justin Verlander for the first time in seven starts since September 2008. Verlander has won each of his last six starts against Chicago, going at least seven innings each time, with three complete games and a 2.03 ERA. He faces ex-Tiger Edwin Jackson in Tigers at White Sox, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field.

3. Jair Jurrjens is always the Braves starter who gets overlooked. But Jurrjens was the National League's pitcher of the month in May, Jurrjens is the major-league ERA leader for the year, and Jurrjens has to be the NL Cy Young leader at this point. He's also one of just four pitchers ever (according to the Elias Sports Bureau) to go at least six innings in each of his first nine starts while never allowing more than two earned runs. Two of the other three (Lefty Gomez in 1937 and Randy Johnson in 2000) had the streak end at nine. The only one who went longer was Ubaldo Jimenez, who got to 12 games with last year's Rockies. Jurrjens goes for 10 in Braves at Mets, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field. Mets starter Dillon Gee has his own distinction as just the second Mets rookie to begin a season 5-0. Jon Matlack started 6-0 (and finished 15-10) in 1972.


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