The Indians (18-14) may have lost their last five consecutive series openers, but they’ll try to win their fourth series out of those five with a win tonight in the rubber match in Toronto (12-21).
Taking the hill for Cleveland will be Danny Salazar. Salazar, 2-3 with a 4.88 ERA this season, is tops in the Majors with a strikeout rate of 13.1 per nine innings. That is bad news for a struggling Blue Jays team which ranks 23rd in the Majors in K rate (23%) and just 27th in total runs scored.
The Jays are also tied with the second-most losses in all of baseball with 21 and stand an imposing 10.5 games behind Eastern Division leading Baltimore at this early date.
The Indians will face Toronto left-hander Francisco Liriano (2-2, 4.44 ERA) who is also establishing a new personal best strikeout rate since he was a 22-year-old phenom coming up with the Twins. In 2006, Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA while posting an impressive 4.5 K/BB rate and 10.7 K/9. This season, the 33-year-old boasts a K rate of 10.3 but his BB/K rate is a much less impressive 1.5 (30 K’s, 20 walks). His WHIP is also a career high 1.75.
Red hot Yan Gomes moves up to 7th in the order tonight as he looks to build on his impressive resurgence.
Gomes is slashing .378/.489/.568 in 46 plate appearances since April 17th with five extra base hits and a 2:1 BB/K rate. The Brazilian’s 0.7 WAR (per baseball-reference) not only looks much better than his 2016 WAR (-0.8) it also looks pretty good in comparison to Jonathon Lucroy’s 0.0 WAR. Gomes is tied for second in baseball with eight runners thrown out stealing and has a 47.1% success rate for the year.
Here are tonight’s line-ups and first pitch is set for 7:07 ET: