"Gotta support the team."

Greetings from Hockeytown. Unless you live under a rock (or don’t subscribe to the enormously popular “Versus” network), you know the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup the other night. The victory parade took place today, right about the time my cab pulled into the city. Men, women, boys, girls and other various life forms flooded the streets in red garb. I saw surprisingly few mullets.

Seeing a major hockey celebration is strange for a native Clevelander. We don’t have hockey in Cleveland. We used to have the Barons and the Lumberjacks. We currently have the Monsters. A handful of people care. This is not intended to disrespect Cleveland hockey fans. I know you’re out there, people, and I wish you and your sport nothing but the best. But you know you’re in the minority on this one.

In Detroit, however, they’re passionate about their hockey. But not as passionate as I was led to believe. They call it “Hockeytown,” but that nickname was borne out of a Red Wings marketing campaign. I was disappointed when Jason Beck, my Detroit counterpart for MLB.com, informed me that no cars were turned over or set on fire after the Red Wings won it all. “The economy is down,” Beck explained, “and with gas prices being what they are, they didn’t want to burn up any fuel.” A sound and rational point.

I guess there’s really no point to this hockey discussion, other than to congratulate the Red Wings. And I know there’s a Cleveland contingent that, by default, roots for the Penguins, so … my condolences.

Turning back to baseball, here’s what we’ve got, lineup-wise, for the opener of this four-game set between the Indians and Tigers. This is hardly the scintillating rivalry we expected it to be this season, but I still think this will be a very telltale series for both of these clubs. If the Indians drop this series, I’d say things have gotten pretty grim and it might be time to put the coroner on speed dial.

INDIANS (27-33): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 3B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Paul Byrd (2-5, 4.66) on the mound, making his fourth attempt at 100 career wins. 

TIGERS (24-35): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, LF Carlos Guillen, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Jeff Larish, SS Edgar Renteria, C Ivan Rodriguez, 3B Brandon Inge. RHP Justin Verlander (2-8, 5.16) gets the start. 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians have 999 all-time wins against the Tigers. By my calculations, their next will be their 1,000th.
  • The Indians batted .352 (57-for-162) with 39 runs scored (9.75 runs per game), 13 doubles, seven homers and 17 walks in the four games against Texas.
  • The Rangers also scored 39 runs in the series. So that was the first time since 1937 that two clubs averaged more than nine runs apiece in a four-game set. The Cubs and Reds did so in 1937, when the Cubs outscored the Reds, 41-38.
  • And now for the bad news… Indians starters went a combined 1-1 with an 11.94 ERA in the series. The pitching staff as a unit had a 9.79 ERA.
  • Indians pitchers have allowed 10 or more hits in each of the last five games.
  • The Indians have scored three runs or less in exactly half of their 60 games this year. Last season, the Tribe scored three or less in 56 games, or 35 percent of their season.
  • Franklin Gutierrez is batting .346 with a homer and four RBIs over his last eight games.
  • Ryan Garko is batting .522 (12-for-23) with seven RBIs over his last five games.
  • If you’re gonna watch the Indians from the bleachers because you don’t have to worry ’bout teachers (thanks for the inspiration, Gary U.S. Bonds), you might be interested in the Tribe’s new “School’s Out Summer Celebration” promotion. All kids 14 and under can get a free ticket to the June 12 game against the Twins if they show up at the Progressive Field ticket office, starting at 4 p.m. ET on the day of the game. Tickets and location are subject to availability, and the child must be present at the time of purchase. High school and college students with a valid student ID can also take advantage of the promotion and receive a half-priced ticket. School is out. Jump and shout.

~AC

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