The Indians make their long awaited return home to Progressive Field on Friday night as the team hosts the Baltimore Orioles in the first series of three from downtown Cleveland over the next week and a half. As was the case with all of August, the games could have significant impact on the American League’s playoff picture.
The Indians (84-56) tore through the final leg of their road trip to finish with an 11-0 road trip, the first one done by the club in its history. They did so in resounding fashion, sweeping the White Sox while outscoring Chicago 30-10. The offense has been about as potent as it comes, averaging 7.27 runs per game (109 runs in total) while the team has doubled its lead in the AL Central from 5.5 games to 11.0 games. Just three times during the club’s record breaking winning streak has the starting pitching allowed more than three runs in a game. The Indians have pitched four different shutouts during the streak.
The Orioles (71-69) are still hovering around in the playoff race, two games out of the second spot in the AL Wild Card picture. They have opened the month of September with a 3-3 record against division rivals Toronto and New York, trading off wins and losses along the way despite being outscored 33-20. The road has not been favorable to the O’s, who are just 27-39 on the year away from home. They dropped three of four against the Indians in Baltimore earlier this season and were dominated on the scoreboard by a 28-10 advantage.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Friday, 9/8, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Wade Miley (8-11, 4.91 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (8-5, 3.50)
Miley and Clevinger will match up for the second time this season, with Clevinger the victor the first time around. Miley earned the loss in the defeat, giving up four runs on eight hits. He had won his previous start against them last June, throwing seven scoreless innings in Baltimore. Miley has been good of late, despite taking a loss his last time out. In a losing effort on September 2 against Toronto, he allowed just two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six quality innings, but his offense put up just solo runs in the eighth and ninth, after falling behind 7-0.
Clevinger is back on a roll on the mound for the Tribe. In his last two starts, he has fired six innings of scoreless baseball each time, striking out nine Kansas City Royals hitters on August 26 and six more batters in a win over the Detroit Tigers on September 1. His spot in the rotation is all the more secure with Danny Salazar being designated for bullpen duty the rest of the way after his return from the disabled list went poorly earlier in the week. Clevinger has made a pair of starts against the Orioles in his career, including a two-run, six-hit performance in five innings in a win earlier this season. He took a no-decision in his first start against them last May, allowing four runs on four hits in four innings.
Saturday, 9/9, 1:05 PM ET – RHP Gabriel Ynoa (1-0, 3.68) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (8-9, 5.20)
Ynoa is in his second season in the Majors and will make just his sixth appearance with the Orioles and his first start of the year. He made his big league debut last year for the New York Mets, working a 1-0 record with a 6.38 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP in ten games (three starts). The 24-year-old faced the Tribe twice during a call-up in June, making a pair of long relief appearances. On June 19, he threw three scoreless innings, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out a pair. He wrapped up another Orioles loss on June 22, working the final two and one-third innings while giving up a run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Tomlin took a no-decision his last time out against Baltimore in a rough outing at Camden Yards. He was charged with five runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in just four and two-thirds innings. He has not had a winning start against the Orioles since June 30, 2012, when he gave up five runs on seven hits over six innings. Tomlin has won four straight decisions for the Tribe, coming an out short of a quality outing in his last appearance on September 3 in his return from the disabled list. In that game against the Tigers, he allowed just one run on six hits, walking one and striking out a pair in earning his eighth win of the season.
Sunday, 9/10, 8:05 PM ET – RHP Jeremy Hellickson (8-8, 5.26) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (15-8, 4.39)
Hellickson has not started against the Indians in over four years, last taking the mound in the first inning against them on June 2, 2013, when he earned a win in Cleveland while allowing three runs on nine hits as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. He has made four starts against the Tribe in his career, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.00 ERA. He had spent the last three seasons in the National League, pitching for Arizona in 2015 and the Philadelphia Phillies in each of the last two seasons until he was acquired by Baltimore ahead of the trade deadline back in July. The 2011 Rookie of the Year is 2-3 with a 6.87 ERA in seven starts in his return to the American League for the Orioles.
Bauer will look to remain atop the wins list in the American League in a nationally televised game on Sunday night. He is on an eight-game winning streak and has lost just one outing in the second half of the season. His last time out, he struck out nine White Sox batters over six and one-third innings and gave up just two runs on three hits. Since his last loss on July 16, Bauer has limited opposing hitters to a .255 average with a 2.47 ERA. It will be his first start of the season against the Orioles; he is 0-3 against them in his career with a 6.75 ERA, last facing them in July of 2016.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (9/8); MASN (9/8); Fox (9/9); ESPN (9/10)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 105.7 The Fan (Baltimore)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Dylan Baker (P) – 60-day disabled list (9/1) – undisclosed
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – right ankle sprain
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 10-day disabled list (8/23) – right hamstring strain
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/22) – patellofemoral syndrome
Andrew Faulkner (P) – designated for assignment
Craig Gentry (LF) – 10-day disabled list (9/2) – fractured right finger
J.J. Hardy (SS) – activated from 60-day disabled list
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians will continue a well-deserved extended homestand with a three-game series during the week against the Detroit Tigers, starting Monday, before the Kansas City Royals visit for four next weekend. The O’s will stay on the road, but may experience a bit of déjà vu. Their opening week of September will be repeated, but this time will be on the road as Baltimore visits Toronto and New York before returning home for its final homestand of the season.
Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images