Washington (58-41) at Cleveland (56-41)
When: Tuesday, July 26th 2016
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH
Time: 7:10 ET | TV: MASN, STO
Two first-place teams that are looking to get back on the winning track meet Tuesday night in Cleveland as the Indians host the Washington Nationals. The Indians have seen their AL Central lead dwindle to 5.5 over the Tigers after being swept in Baltimore over the weekend in three games. Cleveland returns home after a 4-5 road trip and Tyler Naquin looks to stay hot. The outfielder has three homers, eight RBIs and six runs scored in his last seven games. All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor collected five hits in the three-game series versus the Orioles to account for half his hit total since the break. The Nationals come in losers of five of their last seven and their lead in the NL East is just five games over both the Mets and Marlins. Daniel Murphy continues to lead the offense with an 11-game hitting streak in which has seen him hit five homers and drive in 17 runs. Wilson Ramos recorded his ninth three-hit game on Sunday against the Padres. The offense should get Ryan Zimmerman (ribs) back, who is likely to be activated prior to Tuesday’s game. Nationals OF Bryce Harper is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in his last three games.
Pitchers: Nationals – Gio Gonzalez (6-8, 4.53 ERA) | Indians – Danny Salazar (11-3, 2.75)
Gio Gonzalez will make his 20th start of the season and just his third since July 10th. The veteran lefty has won his last two starts allowing just three runs in 11.2 innings of work against the Mets and Dodgers. Gonzalez is 5-0 in his career against the Indians and has only allowed one run against them in the last 34.2 innings. However, it has been three years since he last saw Cleveland.
Danny Salazar allowed three runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings of a 7-3 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday after missing the All-Star Game with a mild elbow issue. The Dominican improved to 7-0 in his last nine starts with his last loss coming on May 22nd at Boston. Salazar will be making his first career start versus Washington on Tuesday, with only Murphy (1-for-1), Ben Revere (2-for-3), Chris Heisey (0-for-2) and Stephen Drew (1-for-5, three strikeouts) having limited plate appearances against him.
Gonzalez might have terrific numbers against Cleveland, but that was a long time ago. Gonzalez was much better when he was with Oakland and the Indians were terrible then. This is 2016 and Cleveland should be able to rough him up. Look for Salazar to get some strikeouts against the struggling Nats offense. I like Cleveland big.
Pick: Indians -1.5 +145