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Series Preview #46: Baltimore Orioles (72-63) at Cleveland Indians (72-64)

Series Preview #46: Baltimore Orioles (72-63) at Cleveland Indians (72-64)

| On 02, Sep 2013

Well that certainly didn’t go as planned.

The Indians (72-64) return home to wrap up their final stretch of difficult baseball this season after dropping five of six to the National League East leading Atlanta Braves and the American League Central front-running Detroit Tigers. Starting pitching was spectacular and kept the Indians in almost every game, but the non-existent offense scored 14 runs in the six games, with nine of them coming in the final two days.

The Orioles (72-63) come to Cleveland for their first and only trip this season. Similarly to the Indians, they have their eyes locked on the Wild Card race, as they enter the series eight and a half games out in the AL East. They trail the Tampa Bay Rays by three games for the second Wild Card spot, maintaining a half-game lead over both Cleveland and the New York Yankees.

Justin Masterson (14-9, 3.49 ERA) will look to keep the Indians in contention in the Wild Card on Labor Day, as he makes the 4:05 PM ET holiday start against Bud Norris (3-1, 4.91). The Indians ace is coming off of a tough no decision in Atlanta where he allowed two earned runs in six innings. Norris is 9-10 on the season with a combined 4.13 ERA between Baltimore and Houston.

Ubaldo Jimenez (9-9, 3.95) will take the mound in Tuesday’s 7:05 PM ET first pitch. The potential free-agent-to-be has struck out 28 batters in his last three starts. Chris Tillman (15-4, 3.61) continues to dominate the league while flying under the radar. He is 5-2 in his last ten games, but just 1-1 in his last five after winning four straight starts beginning just before the All-Star break.

Zach McAllister (7-8, 3.81) and Miguel Gonzalez (8-7, 4.11) will pair up in Wednesday’s 7:05 PM ET finale. McAllister was 3-2 in August with a 4.65 ERA, but two outings with five earned runs allowed skewed both his record and ERA. Gonzalez has not won in eight straight outings and had been taken out of the rotation.

Indians broadcasts of the three games will air on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. The Baltimore broadcasts will vary, as Monday’s game will appear on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, with the rest of the series appearing on MASN 2. All three can be heard on the Orioles Radio Network.

Monday’s game will also appear on the MLB Network.

The Orioles avoided a sweep at the hands of the hard charging Yankees by winning Sunday’s series finale.

A five-run fifth inning catapulted the Yankees past the Orioles on Friday night, 8-5. Gonzalez took the loss, allowing seven earned runs on six hits and three walks in four innings. CC Sabathia pitched five and two-thirds innings and allowed five runs of his own, but earned the win. Mariano Rivera saved game number 39 of the season. Mark Reynolds started the fifth inning onslaught with an RBI-single, which was followed by a two-run home run by Ichiro Suzuki. Robinson Cano added a two-run single of his own.

Cano provided all of the offense in the middle game of the series, as the Yankees and Ivan Nova shut out the Orioles, 2-0, on Saturday. Scott Feldman (4-4) allowed just one run on six hits in seven innings but took the loss. Nova allowed just three singles in his complete game effort (Nate McLouth, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters) and issued just one walk.

A seventh-run seventh inning pushed Baltimore past New York and back ahead of them in the Wild Card picture on Sunday, as the O’s defeated the Yankees 7-3. Baltimore got a pair of three-run home runs in the seventh inning from J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Wei-Yin Chen lasted four innings and allowed five walks, four hits, and three runs. Andy Pettitte allowed two runs in six-plus innings, but all seven runs crossed with the Yankees bullpen on the mound.

Chris Davis (47) has maintained a slight lead over Miguel Cabrera (43) in the home run category of the American League. He is batting .298 on the season and has 122 RBI, second-best behind Cabrera in all of baseball. By comparison, the home run leader in the NL is Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez, who has 32.

Baltimore has two of the top doubles producers in the game. Machado leads all of baseball with 46 on the season, two ahead of St. Louis’s Matt Carpenter. Machado is tied with Davis, who is fourth in baseball with 38 doubles, for the team lead in batting average at .298.

Closer Jim Johnson leads the AL with 41 saves in 50 opportunities.

Baltimore leads the MLB with 180 home runs on the season, 20 more than the Detroit Tigers.

Like the Orioles, the Indians took the final game of their series with the Tigers to avoid a sweep in Detroit.

A four-run third inning gave the Tigers all of the runs they would need, as Detroit knocked off Cleveland 7-2 in a rain-shortened effort on Friday night. McAllister was shelled for five runs on six hits and four walks and was unable to complete the fourth inning. Asdrubal Cabrera drove in the Indians’ runs on a double play grounder in the second and with a bases loaded walk in the sixth.

Big innings again plagued the Indians pitching staff, as four-run second and eighth innings pushed Detroit past Cleveland on Saturday night, 10-5. Yan Gomes hit his ninth home run of the season in the seventh. Carlos Santana drove in three runs, including two on his inside-the-park home run to center field. Scott Kazmir (7-7) took the loss, pitching five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. Three different Indians relievers coughed up two runs apiece (Bryan Shaw, Matt Albers, and Cody Allen).

A ninth inning grand slam from Mike Aviles capped off a well-pitched game by starters Danny Salazar and Justin Verlander, as the Indians stole the finale in Detroit by a 4-0 final on Sunday afternoon. Five Cleveland pitchers combined on an eleven-hit shutout. The Indians managed just five hits, but made the last one count after Joaquin Benoit (4-1) walked the bases loaded and issued the go-ahead blast. Chris Perez allowed three hits in the ninth in a non-save relief appearance.

The Indians pitching staff allowed just 19 home runs in August, the best in the American League.

The Indians’ .229 batting average was the second-worst in the league. Their .295 on-base percentage was at the bottom of the AL.

The Indians are 68-49 (.581) against all teams not named the Detroit Tigers this season.

The Indians will take a day off on Thursday before playing 17 straight games, beginning with the visiting New York Mets on Friday. The Orioles will return home for back-to-back four-game series against the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. They have six games remaining against the Boston Red Sox, four games against the Tampa Bay Rays, and six against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Photo: AP Photo/Duane Burleson

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