After a much needed break from baseball, the Baltimore Orioles return home this weekend for a four game series against the Cleveland Indians. The all-star break was seen as a relief for a limping Orioles club, who had lost 12 out of its last 13 games, including a seven game losing skid.
Unlike Baltimore, Cleveland has seen its share of success this season. The Indians are five games over .500 and have stayed atop the AL Central for the majority of the year, dropping to second only after losses to Toronto before the break.
The Orioles look to rebound from untimely injuries and poor performance from key pieces in the second half. One bright spot for the O’s continues to be right fielder Nick Markakis, who was seemingly on fire over the past month and a half. Although he only has two hits in his last 16 at-bats, his average has risen to .292, and his 107 hits lead the team.
Baltimore will look to control all-star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who leads his club in home runs, RBI, runs and average. Cleveland will be without right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who could be out until September after thumb surgery.
Game 1: Thursday, July 14 at 7:05pm – RHP Justin Masterson vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie
The Indians send Justin Masterson (7-6, 2.64 ERA) to the mound Thursday night against the birds. He pitched a scoreless inning of relief in his last appearance against the Toronto Blue Jays in which he walked one and struck one out. In his last two starts, Masterson pitched eight innings both times in which he gave up a combined seven hits and just one run.
Jeremy Guthrie (3-12, 4.18 ERA) left his last start with some discomfort and also pitched 3.1 innings of relief in his last outing against Boston. One bright spot was his strong start to the game, striking out four. Guthrie gave up 10 hits in only five innings of work in his last start against Cleveland. Guthrie has continued shut down the Indians’ Orlando Cabrera, who is only 2-16 in his career against the righty.
Look for Masterson to continue his strong performance against the O’s, who might come out of the gates a big sluggish following the break. If Guthrie pitches 6+ strong innings, the Birds may still be able to snag a win in this series opener.
Game 2: Friday, July 15 at 7:05pm – RHP Josh Tomlin vs. RHP Jake Arrieta
The Orioles will get Josh Tomlin (10-4, 3.81 ERA) on Friday night. The young right-hander has had a strong season that has seen many bright spots. Although he gave up three earned runs on seven hits in his last start, Tomlin has consistently put his team in a position to win. One interesting note has to be his tendency to give up the long ball. In his last four starts, Tomlin has given up four home runs.
Josh Tomlin set a modern-era record by going at least 5 innings in each of his first 30 career starts, and that streak could continue on Friday.
Jake Arrieta (9-6, 4.90 ERA) will take the hill for the Orioles Friday night in search of his tenth win of the season. Arrieta hasn’t won a decision in nearly a month, dating back to a strong Pittsburgh outing. The young right-hander has given up 15 runs in his last four starts, and hasn’t pitched over five innings of work since June 15.
The Indians have yet to see Arrieta this season, so it will be interesting if he can keep the runs at a minimum, while getting back to his 5+ strikeout appearances of old.
Game 3: Saturday, July 16 at 7:05pm – RHP Joey Carrasco vs. RHP Alfredo Simon
Joey Carrasco (8-6, 4.28 ERA) will battle the Orioles Saturday night in a matchup that has Oriole fans interested. The Birds have not seen Carrasco this season, but in his last two outings, the starter has pitched a combined seven innings, giving up 17 hits, 11 runs and five walks.
Alfredo Simon (1-2, 4.85 ERA) will get another crack at a start. With the absence of Brian Matusz and Zach Britton, combined with injuries to other starters, the Orioles are forced into another emergency start. Simon gets the ball at home on Saturday, where he has an ERA under three.
In a four game set, the Saturday game seems to be extremely crucial to the bullpen. With Simon going, the right-hander needs to provide at least five to six innings of solid work.
Game 4: Sunday, July 17 at 1:35pm RHP Jeanmar Gomez vs. TBD
Jeanmar Gomez (0-1, 4.91 ERA) will be called up to start for the Indians on Sunday. He made three starts and one relief appearance early on in the season for Cleveland and has pitched well while in the minors. His last start in the show came against Oakland on May 5 and he gave up six hits and one run on 5.1 innings of work.
The Orioles have yet to name a starter for Sunday’s final game of the series. Possible starters include Mitch Atkins and Brad Bergesen.
By the numbers:
- Matt Wieters is the only starting catcher in the majors that has yet to be charged with a passed ball. Ironically, he was charged with one as replacement in the All-Star game on Tuesday.
- Nick Markakis is only 4 homeruns shy of reaching the 100 milestone and 2 hits away from reaching 1000.
- Cleveland has won four in a row and nine out of their last 12 against the Orioles, who were swept last time they played the Indians.
- Travis Hafner is a career .365 hitter against the Orioles. In the April series, he hit two long balls off Oriole pitching.