Manager: Terry Francona (5th season)
Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: 3B José Ramírez (.313 with 11 HR, 34 RBIs); DH Edwin Encarnación (.261 with 16 HR, 36 RBIs); CF Michael Brantley (.296 with 61 hits); RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 3.21 ERA); RHP Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.15 ERA).
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (1-5 in 2016)
Monday, June 19: RHP Corey Kluber vs. RHP Dylan Bundy, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Tuesday, June 20: RHP Josh Tomlin vs. RHP Chris Tillman, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Wednesday, June 21: RHP Carlos Carrasco vs. RHP Kevin Gausman, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Thursday, June 22: RHP Mike Clevinger vs. LHP Wade Miley, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Inside the Indians:
It’s hard to say whether the sting of falling in the World Series ever truly goes away. But for the Indians, the bitter taste left in their collective mouths at the end of the 2016 season hasn’t carried over this year, or at least not in the standings. At the start of the 2017 campaign, it looked as if none of the five teams in the American League Central were in position to capture the division crown. But as we officially enter the summer season, the Indians appear to finally be the team that’s willing and able to snag their second straight division title.
Heading into their series against the Orioles, the Indians boast a two-game lead in the AL Central over the Twins, thanks to a sweep in Minnesota over the weekend. Cleveland averaged seven runs per game during the four-game series, a welcome sight for an offense that, quite frankly, doesn’t hit very well. The Indians are 10th in the American League with a .252 average and are still trying to meet expectations. Edwin Encarnación came over from the Blue Jays in the offseason and was pegged as a big boost for the Indians lineup. And following a rough start, the designated hitter has begun to look like a good investment. In the last two weeks, Encarnación is hitting .387 and may be looking forward to tonight’s series, as he has 34 career home runs against the Orioles, his most against any opponent. Third baseman José Ramírez has followed up an impressive 2016 season with another solid start. The 24-year-old leads the Indians with a .306 average and boasts a six-game hitting streak with multiple hits in each contest.
Following the month of May in which he made only one start, righty Corey Kluber has put together a successful June. The former Cy Young award winner is 2-0 in three June starts and has tallied at least eight strikeouts in each start. He’ll start tonight’s series opener opposite Orioles staff ace Dylan Bundy. Right-hander Josh Tomlin has been plagued by inconsistency this season, evidenced by a 4-8 record and an ERA hovering dangerously close to 6.00. Tomlin hasn’t earned a quality start since May 28 and is just 1-3 on the road this year, though he does have one of Cleveland’s two complete games to his credit. Ace Carlos Carrasco has blossomed atop the Indians’ rotation and has been incredible for most of the year. Now in his eighth season with the Tribe, the right-hander sports a 3.21 ERA and is 5-1 over his last six decisions. Righty Mike Clevinger starts Thursday’s series finale against Wade Miley for the Orioles. Clevinger had a solid rookie season a year ago and has seen mixed results this season as a starter. He’s pitched only 37 innings despite making seven starts, and looks as if he may still be getting used to a full workload on the mound. Still, in his last start, Clevinger allowed only one earned run in four innings but will hope to improve upon his only other start against the O’s in which he exited with a 9.00 ERA.
Right-hander Cody Allen handles the closing duties for the Indians, and has pitched effectively, earning 15 saves with a 2.08 ERA. Former Oriole Andrew Miller is another force out of the bullpen, along with right-handers Bryan Shaw and Nick Goody.