The Cleveland Indians are currently on the outside looking in, but as one of the hottest teams in MLB — with one of the easiest remaining schedules to boot — they have a great chance to pass the Texas Rangers and/or Tampa Bay Rays and sneak into the playoffs as one of the AL Wild Card teams.
Right now, the Rangers and Rays are tied at a half game ahead of the Indians, who will look to make a move by taking the first game of a three-game weekend series against the Houston Astros on Friday in Cleveland.
As Indians manager Terry Francona told the Associated Press, “We’ll take any win any way we can get it.” That’s exactly the way he and his club should be approaching things as they prepare for the final week and a half of the season.
Starting pitcher Zach McAllister will get the ball for Cleveland, and is looking to climb back to .500 for the first time since he was 7-7 on Aug. 24. Since then, he has been up and down as he has all season, giving up four or more runs in three of his past four starts.
The 25-year-old right-hander did beat the Chicago White Sox 7-1 his last time out, though, tossing 6.2 innings of one-run, six-hit ball while striking out five and walking one. On Friday, he will try to ride that momentum to a win over the hapless Astros, who turn to rookie starter Brett Oberholtzer in search of a win.
Oberholtzer has been one of Houston’s bright spots over the last few months, posting a 4-3 record in eight starts while lowering his ERA from where it was as a reliever (7.36) to where it is now (2.98). In three of his wins, he has shut out the opposing team, averaging nearly eight innings per start in the process.
The question is, which young hurler will give his team the better performance on Friday?
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