The Cleveland Indians are in danger of falling out of contention in the American League Central race, and they'll try to get back on track Friday night when they begin a three-game set with the visiting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Progressive Field.
Cleveland was swept in a four-game set this week by the division-leading Detroit Tigers, who have reeled off 12 straight wins to open up a seven-game lead in the division. The Indians are three games out in the race for the league's final wild card spot, although general manager Chris Antonetti is still focused on the AL Central.
"If we win more games than the Tigers," Antonetti said, "regardless of whether we beat the Tigers or we win all of our remaining games and don't beat the Tigers, it matters who has more wins at the end of the year, us or the Tigers."
The Indians dropped Thursday's series finale, 10-3, as the Tigers erupted for a six-run third inning. The previous night, Detroit rallied to win on Prince Fielder's two-run double in the 14th inning.
The Angels suffered their fourth straight defeat in Wednesday's 10-3 setback to the Texas Rangers, their seventh straight loss to their division rival. Los Angeles has dropped 10 of its last 13 games overall.
Jered Weaver gets the start for the Halos, who have not tasted victory since their ace last took the mound Saturday against Toronto. The right-hander gave up three runs in 7 2/3 innings in that outing and won for only the sixth time in 15 starts this season despite a solid 2.90 ERA. He missed more than seven weeks earlier this season with a broken bone in his left (non-throwing) arm.
"My goals for the rest of the season are just as they were if I wouldn't have gotten hurt," said Weaver, who is 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in eight career starts in Cleveland. "I'm just trying to go out there and win ballgames, try to get us as deep into the game as possible and throw up zeros."
Cleveland's Scott Kazmir will face the team that released him in June of 2011 after a rocky year-and-a-half with the Angels organization. The left-hander has enjoyed a renaissance season with the Tribe and has gone 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last nine starts.
On Sunday, Kazmir twirled six shutout innings at Miami, marking the third time in his last four outings that he has not allowed an earned run. He allowed only two hits and struck out seven as Cleveland notched its major league- leading 15th shutout.
"He's been pretty good," manager Terry Francona said. "He's worked hard to not only maintain, but to answer the bell whenever he pitches. It's been fun to watch."
Cleveland had a 5-4 edge in last season's head-to-head series with the Halos.