The last time the Indians faced the Tigers, they were swept and fell 5 1/2 games back in the American League Central. Now, they have a chance for revenge, and an opportunity to climb atop the standings -- they trail the Tigers by 1 1/2 games -- with a four-game series beginning on Friday night.
"We told everybody they were good when we started," manager Jim Leyland said. "They made some nice acquisitions in the offseason. They got a little veteran leadership in there. They brought in a new manager that has World Series experience, successful experience. Yeah, it's a different look, a different team."
Rick Porcello, who is appealing his six-game suspension for hitting the Rays' Ben Zobrist with a pitch on Sunday, will take the mound for the Tigers opposite of Justin Masterson. After back-to-back disastrous starts, Porcello only allowed three runs in six innings against the Rays.
"I've made some adjustments, but I still need to keep making some more to avoid innings like the [two-run] fourth," Porcello said after his last start. "Six innings, three runs, kept us in the game. I'll take it."
Masterson went 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA in June, his lone loss coming against the Tigers. He tossed a six-hit shutout against the White Sox on Sunday, his third shutout this season.
"I think that's the challenge for us as starters -- try to go out there and get as much as we can and go as far as we can," Masterson said after his start on Sunday. "And it helped out the bullpen."
The Indians' bullpen may need more help from Masterson after pitching 9 2/3 innings over the past three days. Masterson, however, has a 2-7 record in his career against the Tigers, tied for the most losses he's had against any club.
Indians: Francona has a need for speed
• Throughout the offseason, the Indians transformed into a faster team. Manager Terry Francona is happy with the results and wants to keep it that way.
The Indians are second in the Majors with 64 stolen bases and have advanced from first to third base or further on a base hit a Major League-leading 61 times. As a result, it's led to pitchers going with slide steps more often, which can lead to better pitches for hitters.
"I'll take the trade-off," Francona said. "If a pitcher wants to slide step every pitch, [Jason Kipnis] or [Asdrubal] Cabrera is going to get one of those flattened-out fastballs or hanging breaking balls and do some damage."
• Right-hander Zach McAllister said he felt fine during his mound workout on Tuesday and plans another bullpen session on Friday.
McAllister was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right middle finger on June 8, retroactive to June 3. He's only thrown fastballs, changeups and cutters to this point and is not sure when he will test out his breaking ball.
Tigers: Infante roughed up in Toronto
• Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus flared up the Tigers' emotions with his hard slide into Omar Infante to break up a potential double play on Wednesday. Infante suffered a bruised left shin and X-rays on his leg came back negative.
"It appears to be a bruise," manager Jim Leyland said, "but those can get pretty sore and they can linger a while. You don't know for sure. I don't have much else for you."
Infante didn't play in Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays, and it's unclear how much time he will miss going forward. He was able to move around the clubhouse without crutches on Thursday, which was an improvement from after the game on Wednesday.
"I know you come in to break up a double play, but not like that," Infante said. "That's too much. I know some players play hard and some players don't think about another player, but that slide, that's dirty. I mean, that's too much."
• Carlos Santana has three career home runs against Porcello. Along with his three homers against Justin Verlander, it's the most homers Santana has off any pitcher.
• Kipnis has hit safely in 15 consecutive games, batting .462 over that stretch. He's also reached base through a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 35 straight games.