With the surging first-place Tigers arriving in Cleveland for a three-game set starting on Tuesday, the Indians are hoping to stop Detroit from duplicating last season's story. The Tigers, who have an off-day on Monday, are coming off a three-game sweep of the White Sox in which -- on July 21 of all days -- they leaped over Chicago for the division lead.
Cleveland, meanwhile, has stumbled out of the gates in the second half and enters the series in third place in the AL Central. As the Indians look to put a dent in that divisional deficit, they will call upon Ubaldo Jimenez in the series opener.
Though Jimenez has struggled in each of his last two outings -- and struggled mightily against the Tigers last season -- the righty is 2-0 with an impressive 2.84 ERA in his two starts against Detroit this season. He was 2-3 with an unsightly 6.35 ERA against the Tigers in 2011.
"We've hit him pretty well the last couple years," said Tigers catcher Alex Avila after Jimenez limited the Tigers to just one run over 6 2/3 innings last month. "But he just threw the ball really well today. ... That's the name of the game."
The Tigers will counter with Doug Fister, who has epitomized the Tigers' recent success. Fister has notched victories in each of his last two starts, allowing just two combined runs over 15 innings of work.
His latest masterpiece came on Wednesday against the Angels, in which he conceded just two hits over eight dominant innings while recording a season-high 10 strikeouts. That performance came on the heels of the Angels' offense hanging up 13 runs on 18 hits the night before Fister's gem.
"When you consider who he was pitching against and what they did [the game before], it was really a well-needed effort for us, and we got it," manager Jim Leyland said after Fister's best start of the season. "It was a very good effort. He looked like Fister."
Tigers: Tigers acquire starter, second baseman from Marlins
The Tigers acquired right-hander Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from the Marlins on Monday for top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, catcher Rob Brantly and pitcher Brian Flynn. The two teams also swapped their picks won in the new Competitive Balance Draft Lottery. The Tigers got the Marlins pick, which was the first pick of the Comp A round. The Marlins got the Tigers' pick, which is the sixth pick of the Comp B round.
Left fielder Andy Dirks, who has missed nearly two months with a strained Achilles tendon, departed Sunday for a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. Though there is still no exact timetable for Dirks' return to the big league club, his rehab stint is expected to last longer than the average assignment. "His will be a little bit longer time than most rehabs," Leyland said.
Indians: Hernandez acquires visa, rejoins team
Indians right-hander Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, acquired his visa this weekend and was expected to rejoin the club. Hernandez has already started serving a three-week suspension for engaging in age and identity fraud that will last through Aug. 10.
General manager Chris Antonetti said he expects Hernandez to make three or four Minor League starts -- which he is eligible to do during his suspension -- before returning to the big league club.
"[The suspension] doesn't have much of an impact at this point," Antonetti said. "Roberto has put in a lot of work in the Dominican, so he's not beginning the process from the start. It's not a typical Spring Training. He'll just need to build up his volume from there."
Hernandez went 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA last year prior to his offseason arrest in January. For his career, the 31-year-old is 53-66 with a 4.59 ERA over six seasons with the Indians.
Fister is 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA in seven starts against the Tribe since the start of last season.
Current Tigers position players are hitting a collective .318 (48-for-151) in their careers against Jimenez.
The Indians went 6-12 against the Tigers last season, but they enter this series with a 5-1 record against their division rivals in 2012.