It is the middle of June, so it seems just about time for the Cleveland Indians to go on a nice little winning streak. While the franchise-record 14-gamer set last season may be a lofty goal, the nice run by the Indians could not have come at a better time as they have now won five straight and have guaranteed no worse than a split of their roadtrip.
The Indians (36-31) have reached the high point of their performance this season, putting up a winning streak that matches their longest of the season. It was well timed, as their four-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins over the weekend allowed them to move from two games in back in the American League Central to two games up, taking sole ownership of the top spot in the division for the first time since May 10.
A quick look at the numbers for the Orioles (34-34) highlights the problems for their team. Poor starting pitching has once again failed to keep the club in games for what can otherwise be a dangerous offense. Their starting staff has combined for a 5.46 ERA on the year while going 19-26 with a 1.59 WHIP. The ERA is the worst in the league and second to just Cincinnati as the worst in baseball. They have averaged more walks and hits per nine innings than any club. Their bullpen has proven to be hittable as well, especially without two of the regulars in the back end of the ‘pen. Despite the down performances, they are just four and a half games in back of the top spot in the AL East. They are 23-11 at home on the season and just ended a stretch of eight losses in nine games by taking two in a row to close out the weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Monday, 6/19, 7:05 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.15 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (7-5, 3.29)
Kluber appears locked into midseason form. He made his third start since returning from the disabled list on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and fired his third straight quality start and his sixth of the season in nine starts. He has pitched into the sixth inning of every start this season except the one that he left injured, leading to him missing a month with a lower back strain. He has faced the Orioles five times in his career with 41 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings of work. He is 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, with both decisions and four of the outings coming at Camden Yards.
A 24-year-old right-hander and former first rounder, Bundy has been the anchor of the Baltimore staff this season. He has faced the Indians twice in his career – one start and one relief appearance – and earned wins in both appearances, holding the Indians to just one unearned run in six and one-third innings of work. He earned his first win of June his last time out when he defeated the Chicago White Sox, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings of work. He has won just twice in his last six outings after starting the season 6-1 through his first eight appearances. Eleven of his 14 starts, however, have been quality.
Tuesday, 6/20, 7:05 PM ET – RHP Josh Tomlin (4-8, 5.83) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.07)
Tomlin got back into the win column for just the second time in the last month and a half with a good, but not great, start against the Dodgers last Thursday. He worked five-plus innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with season-highs in both walks (two) and strikeouts (seven; tied). Two home run balls after being given an early lead were problems for the veteran right-hander. He has not defeated the Orioles since 2012. He worked once in relief against Baltimore in 2014 and made one start against them last season, taking the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings of work.
Tillman has lost five consecutive decisions this season and missed the first month of the season on the disabled list. He has yet to pitch into the seventh inning this year and has struggled some with excess traffic on the base paths. He allowed a season-high eleven hits in his last start against Chicago on Thursday, surrendering five earned runs in his fifth loss of the campaign. He is 5-2 in his career against the Indians with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in eight starts. He has not lost to the Tribe since 2013. Another loss this season for the 2013 AL All-Star will match his total from last season, when he posted a 16-6 record with a 3.77 ERA in 30 starts.
Wednesday, 6/21, 7:05 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 3.21) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (3-6, 6.60)
The 30-year-old Carrasco started the Indians’ road trip off on the right foot on Friday, when he limited the Twins to just one run over six and one-third innings. He gave up four hits and walked three, but struck out seven while throwing a season-high 113 pitches on the night. He is just 1-2 in his career against the Orioles and has not faced them since 2015, when he took a loss after allowing five runs on seven hits in four innings. He carries a 31-21 record with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP into his 79th career road outing (compared to a 20-28 mark with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in his 78 appearances in Cleveland).
Gausman is another former first rounder in the Orioles rotation. The 26-year-old fourth overall pick in 2012 had a good month of May, but has struggled in June, taking a pair of losses in three starts while allowing 16 runs in 15 2/3 innings (9.19 ERA) as the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals combined to hit .391 off of him in the three appearances. He has faced the Indians three times in his career, taking a loss in a relief appearance and winning both of his starts. Last season, he pitched seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and three walks while striking out seven.
Thursday, 6/22, 7:05 PM ET – RHP Mike Clevinger (2-3, 3.89) vs. LHP Wade Miley (3-4, 4.29)
Clevinger was designated the 26th man for Saturday’s doubleheader, a strategic move by the organization as it allowed him to be sent back to Columbus following the game to free up an additional bullpen spot while also enabling him to return to the roster short of the usual ten-day demotion window. He saw his last start, during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, shortened by rains in the top of the fifth inning at Target Field. He had pitched well in the outing, allowing just a pair of hits and a walk with four strikeouts in retiring 12 batters before the weather issues. It will be his first career appearance in Baltimore and his second start against the Orioles in his career after working four innings and allowing four runs on four hits with three walks last season in a no-decision.
Miley will end a five-game stretch of right-handers faced by the Indians, which seems like an eternity after facing four straight and five in a six-game span last week. Despite making 14 starts this season, he has somehow managed to factor in just half of the decisions this season. He earned a win in his last start, but did not do so smoothly as he allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits with four walks, two homers allowed, and eight strikeouts and needed 117 pitches to clear just five and two-thirds innings against St. Louis. He faced the Indians twice last season, earning a win and a loss while allowing just three runs over ten and two-thirds innings. Walks were an issue, however, as he gave up six free passes in that stretch.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); MASN (all); MLB Network (all – out of market only)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 105.7 The Fan (Baltimore)
Abraham Almonte (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/16) – right biceps strain; on rehab assignment
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Shawn Armstrong (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (6/18)
Michael Brantley (LF) – activated from paternity list (6/19); placed on 10-day disabled list (retroactive to 6/16) – right ankle sprain
Mike Clevinger (SP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (6/18)
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/14) – left wrist sprain; beginning rehab assignment
Ryan Merritt (SP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (6/17)
Adam Plutko (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (6/16)
Danny Salazar (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/4) – right shoulder soreness
Giovanny Urshela (IF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (6/18)
Zach Britton (CL) – 10-day disabled list (5/5) – left forearm strain; on rehab assignment
Chris Davis (1B) – 10-day disabled list (6/14) – right oblique strain
Ryan Flaherty (SS) – 10-day disabled list (5/19) – right shoulder strain
J.J. Hardy (SS) – indefinite (6/19) – non-displaced fracture in right wrist; will be placed on DL
Darren O’Day (RP) – 10-day disabled list (6/7) – right shoulder strain
Anthony Santander (OF) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – right forearm strain
Mike Wright (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/15) – right shoulder bursitis
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians have had the better of the Orioles throughout the two clubs’ respective histories, dating back to 1901 when the Orioles were the Milwaukee Brewers. The next season, the Brewers moved to St. Louis and became the Browns, staying there through the 1953 season before relocating for the last time to Baltimore, where the city had its first of two chances to have a club called the Baltimore Browns…
The Indians have won 1,125 and the Orioles franchise has claimed 860 in the head-to-head matchup. Baltimore has had the better of the matchup over the last two seasons, however, winning ten of the last 12 between the two clubs. The Indians have dropped seven straight and eight of nine at Camden, dating back to May of 2014.
The Orioles have not had much exposure to Kluber in their respective careers.
On the positive side for Baltimore, Jonathan Schoop is 4-for-9 with a double and a solo homer against Kluber. Manny Machado is 3-for-10 with three singles and an RBI. One of their more successful hitters against Kluber was Hardy, who was 4-for-8 with a double, a homer, and three RBI, but he will miss the series and much of the next two months after tests Monday morning reviewed a wrist fracture.
Adam Jones is just 2-for-14 against Kluber with six strikeouts. Seth Smith is 2-for-12 with a double and a walk. Caleb Joseph is 1-for-9 with three strikeouts, while Mark Trumbo is 0-for-5 with a walk and a strikeout.
While Jones has little to show against Kluber, he has had nothing but success against Tomlin, posting a .563 average (9-for-16) with three doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Hardy and Trumbo have each homered off of him.
Carrasco has been able to contain some of the bigger Baltimore bats in his limited opportunities against them over the years. Jones is just 1-for-9 with a homer and two RBI. Hardy has a single and a double in seven trips. Smith is 1-for-5 and Trumbo is 1-for-6, while Schoop is 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a double play.
Current Orioles have logged a total of eleven plate appearances against Clevinger, going 3-for-9 with a single, two doubles, three RBI, two walks, and three strikeouts.
Machado is second on the Orioles in homers and doubles with 13 each. He has had a notably down year at the plate, hitting just .217 on the season.
Trey Mancini, the 25-year-old second-year man, has put up strong numbers in his first full season in the Bigs after appearing in five games last season and putting on an impressive display. He has hit safely in each of his last eight games coming into the series. In 54 games this season, he is hitting .310 with eleven doubles, a triple, 12 homers, and 38 RBI. The homers are tied for fourth on the club while the RBI total is good for second to Schoop’s 41.
Schoop lead the club with 20 doubles and is tied for second in homers with 13.
INDIANS IN DETAIL
Jose Ramirez’s hot stretch at the plate involves some video game numbers from the hot corner infielder. He has strung together six straight games with hits and all six contests have been multi-hit affairs. Four of the six games have been three-hit games. He has doubled in each of the games and has eight over those games to go with three homers and seven RBI. His efforts rightfully earned him the American League Player of the Week nod on Monday morning.
The good play from Ramirez has extended beyond just the past week. In the month of June, he has hit .369 with a .397 on-base percentage with a team-high nine doubles. He has added in four homers and eight RBI for good measure.
The Indians have a limited body of work against Bundy. In 14 trips, they have just three hits and a hit by pitch. Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, and Ramirez have singled, while Edwin Encarnacion was struck by a pitch.
From his time playing in the AL East, Encarnacion has a bit of a track record against some of the Orioles pitchers. He is a .283 hitter against Tillman with 17 hits in 60 at bats, including three doubles, three homers, and five RBI. Gausman has had his number – Encarnacion is just 1-for-16 against him with five strikeouts (the one hit was a homer). He has gotten the better of Miley in his career, putting up a .500 average and .706 on-base percentage. Of his five hits, two are doubles and two are home runs. He has supplemented that with seven walks.
Encarnacion has been on fire for much of June. He has a .370/.483/.804 slash in 14 games in the month with 17 hits, including a pair of doubles, six homers, and 14 RBI while drawing a team-leading ten walks in that span.
Kipnis is 4-for-14 against Tillman with a double, two home runs, and four RBI. He has also drawn four walks against him. He has two hits in seven trips to the box against Gausman.
Carlos Santana is just 2-for-14 against Tillman, but both hits were for extra bases (a double and a homer). He has also drawn two walks against him and has not struck out. Against Gausman, Santana has a pair of doubles and three walks in seven trips and in eight trips against Miley, he has three singles and a walk.
Bradley Zimmer is hitting .438 in the last week with seven hits in 16 at bats, including a double and five RBI.
Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting .333 in eleven June games and is second on the club with 13 RBI.
It will be another round of familiar faces for the Indians this coming weekend as the Minnesota Twins will return to Cleveland for a three-game set, marking the second straight weekend the two clubs have met. Trevor Bauer is expected to work in the series opener on Friday night from Progressive Field.
The Orioles will head south to Tampa to start a six-game road trip. They will play three over the weekend with the Rays before taking Monday off. They will then head to Canada for three with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images
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Wish I had listened to tonight’s game against the orange birds. Twelve to zip shutout? Wahoo!! Keep going Tribe!