Slowing Down Hunter

Jake Westbrook and the Cleveland Indians didn't have too much trouble against Torii Hunter last season, but that was when the outfielder was with the AL Central rival Minnesota Twins.

Westbrook and the Indians hope to slow down Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday when the teams continue their three-game series.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Los Angeles -112 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland +102 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Hunter has long been a nemesis of the Indians from his days with Minnesota, but Cleveland (3-4) was able to keep him at bay for most of last season. Hunter batted just .194 (13-for-67) with one homer and seven RBIs in 18 games, including 1-for-6 against Westbrook.

The Angels' major offseason acquisition has already surpassed that home run total in 2008, after connecting twice in a 6-4 victory to open this series Monday, including the game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning off Cleveland closer Joe Borowski. Hunter was mobbed by his teammates at home plate.

"It was a nice celebration," the two-time All-Star said. "These are my new teammates, and it was a great thing. That's how chemistry starts."

The center fielder has hit safely in six straight games, batting .440 (11-for-25) with four homers and eight RBIs in that span. He also hit a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth inning Monday.

Westbrook (0-1, 2.45 ERA) makes his second start of the season after a solid performance in his first one. He allowed two runs over 7 1-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox in a 2-1 loss last Thursday, with both runs coming on solo homers.

"I made two mistakes and they were the difference in the game," Westbrook said.

His solid performance may not have been a surprise considering his outstanding work in spring training, in which he allowed no runs and seven hits over 18 innings in five starts.

The right-hander is 2-5 with a 3.12 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels. He's had trouble against the Angels' Chone Figgins, who is 10-for-23 (.435) against him, and Maicer Izturis, who is 5-for-12 (.417).

Cleveland fell to 1-3 on its six-game road trip, but got catcher Victor Martinez back in the lineup. Martinez, who had not started the previous five games due to a strained left hamstring, went 2-for-4 in his return.

Los Angeles (5-3) starter Ervin Santana (1-0, 3.00) looks to shake off his past failures against Cleveland. He has lost all five of his starts against the Indians, posting a 7.59 ERA in those outings.

Santana makes his first home start of the season for the Angels. He has enjoyed pitching at Angel Stadium in the past, going 25-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 43 starts, although he is 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in Anaheim against the Indians.

The erratic right-hander won his season debut last Thursday at Minnesota when he gave up two runs and four hits over six innings in a 5-4 victory.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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