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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, August 1 (All times eastern)

Texas Rangers (43-65) at Cleveland Indians (53-55), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Texas - Jerome Williams (2-4, 5.53) Cleveland - Danny Salazar (3-4, 4.96)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Indians will try to reverse their recent fortunes on Friday night when they welcome the Texas Rangers to Progressive Field for the opener of a three-game series.

Cleveland is still in the American League playoff picture despite having lost eight of 11. The Indians began the day in third place in the AL Central, 6 1/2 games behind Detroit and five back of Toronto for the league's second wild card spot.

Still, the front office decided to shake things up prior to Thursday's non- waiver trade deadline, trading shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington for infield prospect Zach Walters and sending opening day starter Justin Masterson to St. Louis in exchange for outfield prospect James Ramsey.

"We were really pleased we were able to make the deals we were because we think they've positioned us better moving forward," general manager Chris Antonetti said.

On Thursday, the Tribe were on the wrong end of a 6-5 final against the Seattle Mariners in the finale of a three-game set. Cleveland took a 5-4 lead into the top of the eighth inning, but reliever Bryan Shaw served up a two-run homer to Mike Zunino that turned out to be the game-winner. Second baseman Jason Kipnis went deep for the Indians in the loss, while starter Zach McAllister got the hook after allowing four runs on eight hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

The Rangers come into Friday's series opener with the worst record in the majors at 43-65. However, they had Thursday off after posting a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees a day earlier to clinch their first series victory in the last seven tries.

Starter Colby Lewis turned in a strong effort, allowing two runs in seven innings and retiring the final 13 batters he faced. He made the lead stick after the Rangers scored all three of their runs in the first inning.

The Rangers will now play nine straight on the road, where they have lost 16 of their last 20 games.

Jerome Williams gets the start for Texas in place of Nick Tepesch, who is battling left knee soreness. Williams made his Rangers debut against Oakland on Friday and tossed six innings of one-run ball, striking out four and walking nobody.

Meanwhile, Danny Salazar gets the start for Cleveland as he slides into Masterson's spot in the rotation. The right-hander has won two straight road starts with a 3.00 ERA since being recalled from the minors. Most recently, he went seven innings at Kansas City and allowed three earned runs while striking out seven and walking nobody.

"Danny is a guy that's pretty much kept us in every game and is still learning," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "We want to find out about some of these guys. Sometimes if you wait until September or Spring Training, you don't get the real answer. Having some guys in the fire isn't necessarily a bad thing. We did it last year."

Cleveland has won three of four against the Rangers in the season series.

08/01 10:41:53 ET