Series Preview #24: Cleveland Indians (33-38) at Baltimore Orioles (38-34)
Bob Toth | On 26, Jun 2015
After another tough stretch on their home field, the Cleveland Indians may be in need of a change of scenery. That opportunity begins tonight, as the Tribe begins a ten-game road trip with their first stop at Oriole Ballpark at Camden Yards in Baltimore as they take on the Orioles in three straight.
The Indians (33-38) were unable to tame the Tigers and, in particular, Miguel Cabrera, in dropping two of three to Detroit during the week. They fell 8-5 on Monday in a rare offensive explosion for the team and fought back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game, only to give up four runs the next half inning. Tuesday’s 7-3 final was marred by a game-changing bases loaded error by pitcher Danny Salazar in the fifth that led to six runs crossing the plate. Carlos Carrasco earned his career-high ninth win of the season on Wednesday afternoon, striking out seven and allowing two runs over eight innings with Cabrera on the bench. Francisco Lindor hit his first Major League home run during the ball game.
The Orioles (38-34) are still in the thick of things in the American League East, two games in back of the front running Tampa Bay Rays. They are 22-13 at home, the best mark in the division and one of the best in the league. They have played well over an extended period of time, winning 15 of their last 20 contests. They took two of three in Boston during the week, scoring 15 runs but allowing 15 to cross the plate for the Red Sox.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
After a tough start and an unbelievably impressive stretch, Kluber has been dealt losses in each of his last four starts while earning a 4.00 ERA. Many of his nine losses this year would not have been a reality if he was receiving more than an average of 2.17 runs of support, the lowest in the MLB for a qualified pitcher. He was 1-0 against the O’s last season with a 0.61 ERA. Chen has been much better this month after a surprise demotion to Class A after complaining of being tired after a start. He is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three starts since his return.
Saturday will mark the second MLB start for rookie right-hander Anderson, who was strong in a no-decision in his first outing against Tampa on Sunday. The former 14th round pick fanned four and walked one while giving up six hits in seven and two-thirds innings. The 6’5” righty Tillman, an All-Star in 2013, is having a subpar season, but it did not stop him from winning a start in his return from the disabled list against the Indians earlier this year. He allowed two runs on six hits, walked three, and struck out three in six and one-third innings to improve to 3-2 in his career against the Tribe.
Bauer has already set a new career high with six wins, but is the league’s leader in walks with 41 over 84 innings this year. He allowed four runs in four and one-third innings in his lone appearance in Baltimore in his only career start against the club last season. Jimenez is having a much better season than last and is 3-0 in June. He is 0-2 in three career starts against the Indians with an 8.10 ERA, but he was much better in his outing against them this season, when he allowed one run on six hits in an Ubaldo. Despite striking out five, he walked six in the no-decision.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and MASN 2 will air games on Friday and Sunday. Fox will handle national coverage of Saturday’s game. Radio calls of all three will be made available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and on 105.7 The Fan in the Baltimore region.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT GB WCGB STREAK
Kansas City 41-28 .594 – – W1
Minnesota 39-33 .542 3.5 +0.5 W1
Detroit 37-36 .507 6.0 2.0 L2
Cleveland 33-38 .465 9.0 5.0 W1
Chicago 32-40 .444 10.5 6.5 W1
INDIANS AND BROWNS AND ORIOLES
The Indians hold a decisive advantage over the Orioles franchise in the clubs’ collective histories, dating back to the Orioles’ time as the St. Louis Browns, even after Baltimore took two of three in Cleveland earlier this season.
Cleveland is 1,124-852 in nearly 2,000 games against the club, a .569 winning percentage. Home field has not been an issue for them all-time, as they are 536-449 playing on the Orioles home turf. However, since the franchise relocated to Baltimore for the 1954 season, the Orioles do hold a 213-204 lead at home.
These records do not include any games against the 1901 and 1902 Baltimore Orioles, who lasted parts of just two years before being turned over to the American League. With a hole in the league, a new franchise was established in New York, the Highlanders, who were the predecessors of the Yankees.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Austin Adams (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (June 23)
Scott Atchison (RP) – designated for assignment (June 23)
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Nick Swisher (DH) – 15-day disabled list (June 13) – left knee inflammation
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery
Oliver Drake (P) – optioned to Triple-A Norfolk (June 24)
Jason Garcia (P) – 60-day disabled list (June 20) – right shoulder tendinitis
Mychal Givens (RP) – optioned to Double-A Bowie (June 25)
Miguel Gonzalez (SP) – activated from 15-day disabled list (June 25)
Adam Jones (CF) – day-to-day – right shoulder
T.J. McFarland (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Norfolk (June 24)
Jonathan Schoop (2B) – 60-day disabled list (June 16) – partially torn right knee ligament
Wesley Wright (RP) – 60-day disabled list (May 24) – trapezius strain
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON
Jason Kipnis has all but punched a ticket to Cincinnati for this summer’s All-Star break with an incredible May that has continued on into June. While the batting average (.392) is not nearly as high as his was in May (.429), his run through June has been remarkable in its own right and includes an active 19-game hitting streak. That streak is tied with that of Washington catcher Wilson Ramos for the longest hitting streak of the season.
He is now owner of the longest hitting streak in the history of Progressive Field at 28 straight contests, a mark he will have to put on hold for a bit with the Tribe on the road for the next three series through the Fourth of July holiday.
If you are a believer in some of the newer age stats out there, one of the biggest utilized these days to compare the worth of players on the field is Wins Above Replacement (WAR). To emphasize the season Kipnis has had, it is worth noting that the Tribe second baseman leads ALL American League players, both position and pitchers, and is third in all of baseball in the measurement with a 4.8 rating. He trails only Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (5.4) and Washington’s Bryce Harper (5.3).
He also leads the entire MLB in doubles. His 24 are one more than Minnesota’s Brian Dozier and Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo. Only Miami’s Dee Gordon (107) has more hits so far this season than Kipnis (99) in an even number of plate appearances. Kipnis leads the AL in batting at .354 and is percentage points behind Goldschmidt’s same .354 mark for the MLB top spot.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Chris Davis leads the Orioles team with 15 homers and 42 RBI, despite batting .233. He has the second-highest total of strikeouts in the AL with 93 in 71 games played.
Manny Machado has come on strong for the Orioles this season. He has hit in seven straight and is hitting .304 this season. He is second on the team in homers (14) and RBI (40) and is the team’s leader in steals with eleven and doubles with 15.
Jones has been dealing with injury a bit this season, but still finds himself at the top of the O’s offensive leaderboard. He has ten doubles and ten homers to pair with 36 RBI and a .298 batting average in 63 games.
Former Indians catcher Rick Dempsey is one of the members of the Orioles broadcast team and an occasional analyst on MASN.
After being drafted by the Twins and spending parts of four seasons as a part-time player for the club, he joins the Yankees, where he played for parts of four more seasons. In 1976, he was dealt to the O’s in a giant ten-player swap, beginning his long tenure in Baltimore. He reached the World Series with the club in 1979 and again in 1983, when he won World Series MVP honors with a .385 average, one homer, and four doubles in the Orioles victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Following the 1986 season, his eleventh with the club, he signed as a free agent with the Indians. He spent 60 games on the field for the Tribe in 1987, hitting .177 with a homer and nine RBI at the age of 37. He left after the season and split catching duties in Los Angeles with the Dodgers for three seasons from 1988 to 1990, again winning a World Series ring in his first season with the club in the Dodgers’ win over the Oakland Athletics. He spent 61 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1991 and eight more games with Baltimore in 1992 to wrap up his MLB career.
Along with Dempsey, former shared outfielder Brady Anderson works as the Vice President of Baseball Operations for Baltimore and former utility man Jeff Manto is the club’s Minor League Hitting Coordinator. Einar Diaz is the assistant hitting coach for the Major League club and Wayne Kirby is the club’s first base coach.
Cleveland will continue their road tour as they head to Tampa for four more against the Rays before returning north for a holiday Interleague series with the Pittsburgh Pirates next weekend. Baltimore will not have to travel any, as they will stay home to host the Texas Rangers in a four-game series to end the month and start July.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images