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The Cleveland Indians had their share of problems on offense on the first stop of their West Coast road trip, but they should have a big bat back in the lineup as the trip continues.

Victor Martinez expects to return to the lineup Monday for the first time since opening day when the Indians open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland -120 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -120 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Martinez has been out of the lineup for the last five games for Cleveland (3-3) after he strained his left hamstring in last Monday's 10-8 win over the Chicago White Sox. Kelly Shoppach caught in Martinez's absence.

"We're going to have him come in early, take early (batting practice) and let him run the bases," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge told the Indians' official Web site of Martinez. "If he's OK, he's in the lineup (Monday) night."

The Indians look like they are badly in need of their cleanup hitter, who led them in batting average (.301), homers (25) and RBIs (114) last season. Cleveland scored a total of only six runs over the weekend while losing two of three at Oakland, although the Indians ended a three-game skid with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona (1-0, 1.29 ERA) should enjoy the warm weather in Anaheim, conditions that were a far cry from his first start of the season. Pitching in 20-degree conditions on Wednesday, he gave up one run and four hits in seven innings of a 7-2 win over the White Sox.

His sinkerball may have been his best pitch, as Carmona recorded 16 of his 21 outs on groundballs.

"It's pretty good," Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore said. "Sometimes you think it's a changeup, and you look up (at the scoreboard) and it's 93 mph. He was tough."

The right-hander didn't allow more than three runs in any of his road starts last season, going 9-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 16 outings. That wasn't the case, however, in the playoffs as he went 0-1 with a 16.50 ERA in two starts in Boston.

Carmona is making his first career start against the Angels. He has pitched three times against them in relief, all in 2006, and allowed four hits over 5 2-3 scoreless innings.

Los Angeles (4-3) is looking to get back on track after losing two of three at home against Texas. Slugger Vladimir Guerrero went 0-for-4 in Sunday's 10-4 defeat, and is 3-for-20 (.150) over his last five games.

Joe Saunders (1-0, 0.00) makes his first home start of the season for the Angels. He was sensational in his 2008 debut, allowing four hits over eight innings in a 1-0 win at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Saunders won his first six decisions last season and his first four starts in 2006, but is looking to put together a solid full season this time around. The Angels are counting more on him than in seasons past because they are without John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar.

"It felt great, and I had a lot of fun," Saunders said. "Guys have to step up, you know? Myself included. That's what I tried to do tonight - step up."

The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two career starts against the Indians. Slugger Travis Hafner is 0-for-5 with three strikeouts against him.

Hafner went 8-for-38 (.211) with 12 strikeouts in 10 games against the Angels last season as Los Angeles and Cleveland split their season series.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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