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Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
Tuesday night will feature an interleague showdown as the Chicago Cubs (17-17) square off with the Cleveland Indians (18-14) for the first of a two-game series. Cleveland will host this one at Progressive Field, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 pm ET.
Over the weekend, the Cubs were able to win their series over the Pittsburgh Pirates, although they did lose the finale on Sunday 6-5. In the loss, Kyle Hendricks gave up six runs (four earned) over five innings.
Due to rain postponing Sunday’s finale, the Indians were left with just a two-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. The two teams split, but the Indians are coming off of a 9-2 win on Saturday. In the win, the Indians erupted for nine hits and five walks en route to the blowout.
The Indians are the favorites in this one playing at home. They are -166 to win while the Cubs’ moneyline is +140. The runline features Chicago +1.5, and the over/under for total runs is seven.
The Cubs will send their young righty, Adbert Alzolay (1-2, 4.50 ERA), to the mound on Tuesday. Alzolay was solid in his last outing against the Dodgers, going five innings while striking out seven.
Cleveland will send their ace, Shane Bieber (3-2, 2.98 ERA), to take on the Cubs. In his last start, a 5-4 win over the Royals, Bieber went six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits while striking out nine.
By The Number
Offensively, the Cubs have a slight advantage. They rank 12th in the majors in runs per game at 4.62. The Indians rank 16th, averaging 4.25 runs.
On the defensive side, it is all Cleveland. They rank seventh in runs allowed per game at just 3.78. The Cubs fall to 23rd, allowing opponents 4.76 runs per game.
Cubs Trying To Keep Pace In NL. Central
At 17-17, the Chicago Cubs are 3.5 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals. If they hope to keep pace with them, they will have to improve on the road. While Chicago is 13-8 at Wrigley Field, they are just 4-9 on the road.
Leading the way for the Cubs is third baseman Kris Bryant. After a couple of frustrating seasons, Bryant has come out on fire this season. He is currently hitting .308/.397/.650 with a team-leading nine home runs and has 22 runs batted in.
After getting off to a tough start to the season, shortstop Javier Baez has played better over the last week. In that span, he is hitting .313/.389/.563 with a home run and three runs batted in.
Indians Hope To Stay Hot
While many predicted either the White Sox or Twins would win the division, the Indians have shown in the early going that they are not going to go away easily. They are just a game behind Chicago for first in the AL Central and have been a stellar 7-3 over their last ten games.
Offensively, third baseman Jose Ramirez continues to lead the way. He is hitting just .259/.348/.543, but also leads the team in home runs with nine and is third in runs batted in with 19. One big reason for his success is limiting his strikeouts (he has 15 walks to just 17 strikeouts).
Jake Bauers has also played pretty well as of recently. In his last four games, he is hitting .300/.364/.600 with a home run and two runs batted in. Whether it be Bauers, Franmil Reyes, Josh Naylor, or someone else, the Indians’ offense needs to get support around Ramirez.
Pitching Will Win The Day
At this point in the season, the Indians know that they won’t have too many nine-run outbursts as they did on Saturday. Rather, they will need to rely on steady pitching and timely hitting.
Thankfully for Cleveland, they have one of the best in the business on the mound Tuesday in Shane Bieber. While the Cubs’ offense can’t be discounted, you always have to like your chances if you are an Indians fan when Bieber is on the mound.
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