The Arizona Diamondbacks open up their first interleague series of the season on Friday night at Chase Field
The level of competition won’t drop off this weekend in downtown Phoenix. After taking three of four from the San Francisco Giants to open the 2017 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks entertain the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians.
The Diamondbacks are looking to start 4-1 for the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since 2013. The Indians swept the Texas Rangers in Arlington to begin their season.
Terry Francona’s crew can hit, pitch and field with the best of them and are as complete as any team in baseball. Let downs are not an option.
Arizona is facing Cleveland for the first time in the regular season since 2014. They are 7-9 all-time and 4-4 at Chase Field. In 2014, the Snakes split a four-game home and home series.
The Diamondbacks own a 143-172 all-time record in interleague play, including 70-83 at home. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who hit two home runs against the Giants, is tied for fourth-most home runs in interleague play with 18 since 2011.
The Indians were 13-7 against National League opponents in 2016, including 6-4 on the road. Arizona actually hits better against American League opponents at home without the DH (.268 vs. .253).
What: Giants (1-2) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (2-1)
Where: Chase Field
When: 6:40 p.m.
TV: FSAZ+ (check channel listings)
Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620 AM/ KHOV 105.1 FM (Spanish)
Pitching Matchup: RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA)* vs. RHP Shelby Miller (3-12, 6.40 ERA)*
Live Stream: MLB.tv, Fox Sports GO
Weather: 85 degrees, partly cloudy. Wind 7 mph from right to left at first pitch.
HP: Ted Barrett
1B: Angel Hernandez
2B: Lance Barksdale
3B: John Tumpane
Cleveland starts right-hander Josh Tomlin, who makes his 2017 debut in the series opener on Friday night. Previously, Tomlin went seven innings and allowed two earned runs, in his only career start at Chase Field. This will be his third career start against Arizona. Tomlin last faced the Diamondbacks at Progressive Field on August 13, 2014 and threw 5.1 scoreless innings.
Tomlin will use a strong dose of four-seamers. He used the cutter 38 percent of the time. His four-seam fastball has a lot of rise and generates a high percentage of fly balls. His average fastball velocity is under 90 mph.
Last season, Tomlin surrendered 36 home runs. Daniel Descalso is hitting .333 in three career at-bats and Chris Herrmann has taken the right-hander deep once.
Tomlin is always around the strike zone. He issued just 20 base on balls in 2016, the lowest amount in the majors. He walked two or fewer batters in all of his starts.
Descalso is hitting .333 in three career at-bats and Herrmann has taken the right-hander deep once.
Shelby Miller has a chance to put an ugly 2016 campaign behind him. His velocity spiked this spring, and his mechanics looked fluid. If he can carry both into the regular season, it should bode well.
Miller will have his hands full with a stacked Indians lineup, but his key is to pitch ahead and keep the ball in the park.
Player to Watch: Edwin Encarnacion
Career at Chase Field: 17 G, .311 AVG (19-for-61), 10 HR and 18 RBI. .765 slugging percentage against the Diamondbacks. (2nd all-time to Manny Rameriez)