|Indians want to pick up pace after break starting vs. Rangers|
Cleveland has enjoyed a successful first half of the 2018 season, leading the American League Central by 7 1/2 games as it continues play after the All-Star break.
But the Indians expect to be even better during the final 2 1/2 months that begin Friday against the Texas Rangers when the teams return after the All-Star break.
The Indians will send right-hander Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.24 ERA) to the mound and Texas will counter with left-hander Martin Perez (2-4, 7.67) in the opener of a three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Cleveland is on pace to capture its third straight division title and do so by a comfortable margin. But the Indians are not content with their current position and hoped to have a better mark than 52-43 at this point.
"I don't think you're ever happy with what your record is -- you always want to be better," Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB.com. "We seem to play better in the second half -- there's no guarantees there -- but I feel we will. We've had some bumps on the road, but we've endured.
"We're set up right now where every game we play, they mean so much. And that's OK. I think the guys, they need a rest, we all do. But we're OK. We've got a lot ahead of us. Nobody knows what's going to happen. I think our better baseball is ahead of us."
Outfielder/designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo has been one of the bright spots for the Rangers in the first half of the season, and begins the second half with a 51-game on-base streak.
The streak has been impressive beyond being a club record and the longest in the major leagues this season.
During the 51 games, Choo is hitting .337 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .596 slugging percentage. He has scored 31 runs, hit 13 home runs, drove in 28 runs and walked 47 times.
Overall, his .405 on-base percentage is the third highest in the American League, and his .911 OPS is the ninth highest. His 76 runs created on the season is ninth best in the league.
"Every hitter has a different goal, but my goal is always to get on base, get a hit, walk or get hit by a pitch," Choo said. "It doesn't matter. That mentality makes this on-base streak special. Experience is a big help. When you play this long, you see a lot of pitches, different styles, different type of pitchers."
Bauer held the Yankees to two runs and seven hits in seven innings on Sunday but did not factor into the decision. He allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Rangers on April 30.
Meanwhile, Perez will start Friday on five days' rest after he came off the disabled list last Saturday for his longest outing of the year. He allowed one run in seven innings of a tough loss to Baltimore in that one, his first outing since April 29 after right elbow surgery.