Manager: Terry Francona (3rd season)
Last 10 games: 4-6
Who to watch: 2B Jason Kipnis (.354/.431/.521 with 31 RBIs), LF Michael Brantley (.293/.370/.435 with 37 RBIs), RF Brandon Moss (11 HR, 35 RBIs), RHP Corey Kluber (117 strikeouts, 3.65 ERA), RHP Cody Allen (14 saves, 47 strikeouts)
Season series vs. Orioles: 1-2
Inside the Indians:
When the Orioles and Indians met in Cleveland earlier this month, the two teams were at different stages of their respective seasons. The Orioles were in a bit of a slump and the Indians had just finished May by winning 10 out of 13 games. In fact, the Tribe was 11-4 while scoring 72 runs, had 133 hits and 15 home runs over 15 games leading up to that series with the Birds. But the O's won the weekend series, and the two teams' seasons took different turns.
The Indians have played 15 games since the end of that series with the Orioles. In those games, the Tribe are 6-9, have only scored 46 runs (42 batted in) with 124 hits and nine homers while batting just .252. Some quick math shows that they have only averaged 3.1 runs per game since, compared to 4.8 in the games leading up to the O's series. Meanwhile, that series was the first of six series wins in seven series for the Orioles coming into this weekend.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis one of the best batters right now. His .354 batting average leads the American League and ties Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt for best in all of baseball. He's also fourth in the majors with a .431 on-base percentage, continuing to do the leadoff man's job of getting on base. Further down the lineup, left fielder Michael Brantley isn't doing too bad himself, batting .293 and leading the team with 37 RBIs. And although right fielder Brandon Moss is only batting .233, he leads the Indians with 11 homers and has 35 RBIs of his own.
First baseman Carlos Santana does not hit too well for average (.217), but does for power with eight home runs and 35 RBIs. But designated hitter David Murphy is the opposite. He's batting .326 with only four homers and 19 RBIs. So you get a different mixture of hitters as you move down the Indians lineup: There's a really good player at the top, and then there are some players that are good at getting on base while others can hit for power.
Right-hander Corey Kluber starts this weekend series at Camden Yards for the Indians. He has already tied his career-high in losses with a 3-9 record in 15 starts and has had quite a rollercoaster ride so far this season. Kluber started 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA over his first seven starts. Then went 3-0 over his next four with a 1.41 ERA. But he's started to struggle again, losing his last four starts with a 4.00 ERA. So depending on at what point of the ride he's at when he gets to Baltimore, we're not sure which Kluber will show up. He is 1-1 in three career starts against the Orioles with both of those decisions coming at Camden Yards, where he has a 4.63 ERA.
Rookie righty Cody Anderson is coming off his major league debut on June 21 against the Rays. He went 7 2/3 innings pitched and gave ups six hits, no runs, one walk and four strikeouts on 94 pitches (61 strikes) while getting a no-decision in the 1-0 walk-off win for the Indians. In that one start, right-handed batters hit .167 against him while lefties batted .300. Anderson throws a 93 mph fastball 69 percent of the time and an 83 mph changeup 18 percent of the time. He also has an 87 mph cut fastball and a 76 mph curveball in his arsenal.
Right-hander Trevor Bauer brings a 6-4 record and 3.86 ERA to close out the series on Sunday. Bauer has had a back-and-forth season, flip-flopping his decisions in his last six starts. If this pattern continues, he is in line for a win in Baltimore. Bauer has a 1.33 ERA in his wins, but a 9.64 ERA in his losses. He is also 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA this season on the road. Bauer lost his only start against the O's last season. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up six hits, four runs, three walks and struck out eight.
The Indians are coming to Baltimore to face a different team than when they last met, and they have themselves to thank for that. And on top of that, Cleveland is a different team, as well. The Indians have lost five of their last six series starting with the one against the Orioles at home. But we've seen this team have an up and down season so far. So if they are having a season like Kluber or are as day and night as Bauer, they might be due for a win this weekend in Charm City.