Series Preview #18: Baltimore Orioles (24-29) at Cleveland Indians (26-27)
Bob Toth | On 05, Jun 2015
In case you have missed it, thanks to Cleveland Cavaliers fever overtaking much of the attention of the sports scene in northeast Ohio, the Indians have won a few games here and there and find themselves on the brink of breaking through to a winning record.
As a certain star athlete from the region reminded us in penning a homecoming for the ages, “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.” The Indians are coming home, as #23 did, and will host the Baltimore Orioles in three games this weekend. They will look to improve upon their 10-14 home record by facing a team from outside of the division, a positive for an Indians team that is 14-9 against all non-AL Central division foes this year.
The Indians (26-27) have not earned a winning record at home, something that will be a source of work and attention this weekend. They have been on an impressive stretch of late, easily playing their best baseball of the season since beginning a road trip on May 15th through Texas and Chicago. After going 5-2 on the road, they returned home and went 4-2 against Cincinnati and Texas before another 5-2 road trip this past week in Seattle and Kansas City.
Since that mid-May road trip, the Indians are 14-6 and playing at a .700 clip. They earned a 2-1 win on Tuesday over the Royals, powered by strong starting pitching and a two-out RBI-single by Michael Brantley in the eighth inning. KC evened the series on Wednesday, 4-2, despite a complete game from Corey Kluber and his nine strikeouts. In a rain-shortened contest on Thursday, the Indians won a 6-2 decision, backed by the fifth win of the season from Trevor Bauer and the fourth homer of the season against the Royals by Brandon Moss.
The Orioles (24-29) enter the weekend in third place in the AL East, four games behind the second place Tampa Bay Rays and beaten up on the road, where they are 9-17 this season. They are 1-3 to start the month of June after a tough four-game series against the Houston Astros. They salvaged the series sweep on Thursday to end a five-game losing skid that saw the team score a total of 12 runs.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Tillman, the 6’5” right-hander, leads the league in losses. He is 2-2 in five career starts against the Indians, including a 1-2 record with a 7.07 ERA in Cleveland. Marcum is looking for his first career win at Progressive Field. The odds are stacked a bit in his favor as he has had prior success against the Orioles, posting a 4-2 record against them in 14 career games.
Jimenez has started against his former team twice in his career, both times occurring last season. He was tagged for eleven runs on nine hits while walking eight in earning a pair of losses and an 11.88 ERA. Salazar took the loss in his lone career start against the O’s last season, allowing two runs in five innings.
Sunday, 6/7, 1:10 PM ET – TBD vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 3.92)
The Orioles are expected to activate and throw Bud Norris, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a bout of bronchitis at the time of this preview. Carrasco has made three appearances against Baltimore, including two starts. He is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in those games. He did not allow a run to the club in eight innings of two games last season and earned a win.
As usual, Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio will air all three contests in the Indians market. Baltimore broadcasts will appear on MASN on Friday night and MASN2 for both afternoon contests over the weekend. Radio calls will be provided by the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and 105.7 The Fan in Maryland.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT GB STREAK
Minnesota 32-21 .604 – W2
Kansas City 30-21 .588 0.5 L1
Detroit 28-27 .509 5.0 L7
Cleveland 26-27 .491 6.0 W1
Chicago 24-28 .462 7.5 L1
BATTLING THE BIRDS
The Indians and O’s connection dates all the way back to 1901, when the Orioles were the Milwaukee Brewers before becoming the St. Louis Browns the following season. The baseball Browns moved to Baltimore in time for the 1954 season.
The club is the Indians’ fifth-most played opponent all-time, trailing Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, and Boston. The Indians hold a 1,123-850 edge in 1,992 matchups, including a 587-401 record when playing in Cleveland. The edge shrinks since the club moved to Maryland, as the Indians hold a 432-395 mark against them since that memorable 1954 season.
The two teams last met in August, when the Indians took two of three from them at Progressive Field. The Indians split a prior four-game series in Baltimore in late May of that season.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Scott Atchison (RP) – 15-day disabled list (May 31) – right ankle sprain
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Jerry Sands (UTL) – designated for assignment 5/31; resolution due by 6/9
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery
Cesar Cabral (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Norfolk June 5
Everth Cabrera (IF) – designated for assignment
Steve Clevenger (C) – optioned to Triple-A Norfolk June 5
Alejandro De Aza (OF) – traded with cash to Boston for RHP Joe Gunkel
Jason Garcia (P) – 15-day disabled list (May 11) – right shoulder tendinitis
Kevin Gausman (P) – 15-day disabled list (May 8) – right shoulder tendinitis
J.J. Hardy (SS) – day-to-day – left side soreness
Brian Matusz (RP) – awaiting decision on appeal of eight-game suspension for use of a foreign substance
Rey Navarro (IF) – recalled from Triple-A Norfolk June 5
Bud Norris (SP) – 15-day disabled list (May 11) – expected to be activated for Sunday’s start
Jonathan Schoop (2B) – 15-day disabled list (April 18) – right PCL tear, MCL sprain
Matt Wieters (C) – activated 6/5 from the 60-day disabled list after Tommy John surgery
Mike Wright (SP) – optioned to Triple-A Norfolk June 5
Wesley Wright (RP) – 60-day disabled list (May 24) – trapezius strain
HOT IN CLEVELAND
Moss came alive on the Indians just-concluded road trip, hitting .429 in seven games. He entered the trip with a .219 batting average and left with a .253 mark after hitting in six of seven games, including each of his last five. He is 10-for-21 (.476) during the five-game hitting streak, a season-best. He has had the better of Jimenez in his career, batting .417 with a .500 on-base percentage in 14 plate appearances. He has a homer mixed in with his five hits and has driven in four runs, most amongst active Indians against Jimenez.
Carlos Santana (1-for-6), Moss (1-for-9), and Ryan Raburn (0-for-8) are a combined 2-for-23 against Tillman with five strikeouts. Santana has hit safely in five straight games and nine of his last ten.
Michael Bourn is hitting .316 in the last week. He was 4-for-9 in the series against the Royals with a double and scored a pair of runs to boost his season batting average eleven points to .259.
Nick Swisher has hit more home runs against the Orioles (24) than any other team throughout his Major League career.
BALTIMORE BY THE NUMBERS
Just two of the seven Orioles hitters to face Marcum (Adam Jones, Travis Snider) have hits against him. Delmon Young is hitless in nine at bats with three strikeouts and Chris Davis is hitless in five.
Young has seen the ball well recently. He is hitting .318 in the last week with a pair of homers and three RBI.
Jones started the series in Houston with an 0-for-7 in the first two games, but responded with five hits in his final eight at bats, including the game-deciding homer in the game on Thursday. The three-hit game pushed his batting average back up to .307.
Salazar has faced just five current members of the Orioles roster. He has allowed four hits in total, but three of them have been for extra bases.
Many members of Baltimore manager Buck Showalter’s coaching staff have ties back to the Cleveland Indians, including the skipper himself. After being fired by the Texas Rangers in 2006, Showalter became the senior advisor to baseball operations with the Indians on December 1, 2006 before joining ESPN as an analyst.
Assistant hitting coach Einar Diaz is a former Indians catcher, maybe best remembered for being involved in a trade with Texas that brought Travis Hafner to Cleveland. First base coach Wayne Kirby was a member of the Indians teams of the mid-90s, spending six seasons with the clubs before being claimed off of waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996. His brother, Terry, was a member of the Cleveland Browns. Bullpen coach Dom Chiti spent a dozen seasons in the Indians organization from 1989 through 2001, working as a roving minor league instructor, American League advance scout, and both a Triple-A and MLB bullpen coach.
The Indians will get to enjoy more home cooking as they host the Seattle Mariners in a three-game set starting Tuesday night. The Orioles will also take Monday off before welcoming the Boston Red Sox into town for a three-game series on Tuesday.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images