The Cleveland Indians (25-20) are entering a particularly difficult stretch of their schedule. They play each of their next ten games at home, their longest homestand so far this season, spending three days hosting the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers and four next weekend with the Kansas City Royals. They then hit the road for a ten-day road trip, with three-day stays in Seattle and Los Angeles before a four-game series against the Royals. They carry a 15-9 record into the rest of the action in May and need to use the momentum through the road-heavy June schedule, when they play just eleven of 28 games in Cleveland.
The Indians are on the brink of hallowed grounds for the club. Just a half-game out of first place after taking three of four from Chicago and ending their road trip with a 6-3 mark, Cleveland is nipping at the heels of the first place White Sox, who had their games against the Royals postponed on Thursday. The Indians lost the first game of a doubleheader on Monday against the Sox before putting together three straight wins at U.S. Cellular Field to cut the gap in the division to a half game and just one game in the AL Wild Card race.
The Orioles (26-19) lost their hold of first place in the AL East this week after the Red Sox put together a winning streak, starting last weekend against the Indians, while Baltimore lost several games in a row. The O’s have struggled some away from home and were swept on the road in Houston, bringing their road record to 9-11 this season away from Baltimore. After a sweep at the hands of the Astros, the Orioles have now dropped four straight.
Friday, 5/27, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Mike Wright (2-3, 4.97 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.31)
Saturday, 5/28, 4:10 PM ET – RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (2-5, 6.04) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (4-3, 2.32)
Sunday, 5/29, 1:10 PM ET – TBA vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (0-1, 8.71)
TV (Cleveland) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); MLB Network (out of market – Saturday)
TV (Baltimore) – MASN 2 (Friday and Sunday games); MASN (Saturday); MLB Network (out of market – Saturday)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 105.7 The Fan (Baltimore)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation
Carlos Carrasco (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 24) – moderate left hamstring strain
Roberto Perez (C) – 60-day disabled list (May 1) – fractured right thumb
Brian Duensing (RP) – signed to a minor league contract May 25
Yovani Gallardo (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 23) – right bicep tendinitis; shoulder
J.J. Hardy (SS) – 15-day disabled list (May 2) – left foot fracture
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Saturday’s game will mark the 2,000th game between the Indians and Orioles franchises, just the fourth club that Cleveland has toppled such a mark against. It includes Baltimore’s long stay in St. Louis as the Browns.
The Indians are 1,124-855 in 1,998 games so far against the Orioles, which includes substantial winning records at both home (588-403) and on the road (536-452). Since the MLB Browns moved to Baltimore prior to the 1954 season, the marks are more favorable for the O’s. Cleveland holds a 433-400 record in 833 games in that span with a 204-216 mark in Maryland and a 229-184 mark in Cleveland.
Thirty-year-old right-handed hitting Mark Trumbo has done his part to supply even more power to what appeared to be a power-hitting Orioles lineup already. After coming over in a trade from Seattle in the offseason, Trumbo is hitting .279 with a club-leading 14 homers and 32 RBI.
Pedro Alvarez, long-time Pittsburgh slugger, has played a handful of games at the hot corner for the O’s this season and 34 games in total. He is hitting .192 with three homers and eleven RBI.
…AND OLD ONES
Manny Machado is one of the more underrated players in the Majors today. He is hitting .309 with 13 homers, 17 doubles, and 28 RBI this season. He is the only Orioles player in double digits in doubles this season. The 23-year-old had hits in all three games of the O’s series in Houston and is hitting .271 in May.
Adam Jones is always a threat in the Baltimore lineup, even with a slow start to his 2016 season. He is hitting .223 with six doubles, five homers, and 19 RBI this season, with two of the doubles, four of the homers, and 12 of the RBI coming in May. He had a bad series against Houston, going 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts.
Chris Davis returned to Baltimore in the offseason after flirting with free agency. The left-handed hitter is hitting .229 with ten homers and 27 RBI. Last season, he hit 47 homers and drove in 117 RBI, both good for the second-best numbers of his career, but he also struck out a career-high 208 times.
WIETERS QUIETLY HAVING A GOOD YEAR
Switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters has quietly had a strong season at the plate, hitting .292 with six doubles, four homers, and 16 RBI in 31 games this year. He was limited to just 101 games of action over each of the last two seasons, but has seen more regular and healthy playing time this season. He has hit in seven straight games for the O’s, improving his batting average 73 points in the process.
BREAKING THE WRONG KIND OF RECORDS
Houston pitching struck out 52 Baltimore batters in the three-game series, setting a new Major League record.
KIPNIS CONTINUES STEADY SEASON
Jason Kipnis has hit in four straight for the Indians and nine of his last eleven. He is hitting .284 in May and .279 for the season with eight doubles, a triple, six homers, and 27 RBI.
NAPOLI BOUNCES BACK
After going 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts in his return to his former stomping grounds of Fenway Park, Mike Napoli had a good series against the Chicago White Sox during the week, going 4-for-11 with a triple, a homer, and four RBI.
THEY WON’T RUN ON YAN
The Orioles have attempted just seven stolen bases in May and 14 for the year. They have stolen four in the month and eight for the season.
The Indians, by comparison, have successfully stolen 32 bases in 40 attempts this season.
FLEETING RUN SUPPORT
The Orioles have gone 12-10 in May despite posting the second fewest runs scored in the American League this month.
Their 90 runs were just three more than the Minnesota Twins for worst in the league so far this month.
BETTER RUN PRODUCTION
The Indians are the number two scoring club in the AL this month with 123 runs scored in 24 games, trailing just the Boston Red Sox (150). The Indians are second in the league in runs, RBI, and walks, and have seen more at bats in May than any team in baseball.
The Indians will continue their ten-game home stretch on Monday with a three-game set against the American League West leading Texas Rangers. The Orioles will return home to Baltimore for a quick turnaround against the Red Sox in a Memorial Day 1:35 PM ET start.
Photo: AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith