Manager: Terry Francona (6th season)
Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: SS Francisco Lindor (15 hits, 7 RBIs); LF Michael Brantley (.333 with 1 HR, 6 RBIs); 3B JosÃ© Ramirez (4 HR, 8 RBIs); RHP Corey Kluber (2-1, 1.52 ERA); RHP Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.25 ERA), RHP Cody Allen (0.00 ERA, 3 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (6-1 in 2017)
April 20: RHP Trevor Bauer (1-1) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (0-2); 7:05 p.m., MASN
April 21: RHP Mike Clevinger (1-0) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (0-3); 4:05 p.m., MASN
April 22: RHP Corey Kluber (2-1) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (1-2); 1:05 p.m., MASN
April 23: RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-0) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1); 7:05 p.m, MASN
Inside the Indians:
It's been a fairly enjoyable couple of years for Indians fans. Sure, they watched the club squander a lead in the 2016 World Series, but back-to-back division titles had even Harry Doyle thinking good thoughts heading into 2018. So far this season, Cleveland has fared decently, posting a 9-7 record. That mark is particularly impressive given the team's woeful start offensively. Entering Thursday, the Indians were dead last in the majors with a .208 team average. Thankfully for the Tribe, a trip to face the Orioles might be just what the doctor ordered.
You can't really pinpoint the Indians' tough start on offense on any one player - everyone has underachieved. Third baseman JosÃ© Ramirez is hitting just .197, second baseman Jason Kipnis is batting .167 and slugger Edwin Encarnacion is hitting a meager .153. Even star shortstop Francisco Lindor is barely above the Mendoza line, though he does lead the team with 15 hits. It's perhaps center fielder Bradley Zimmer who is providing the lone bright spot in an otherwise dull lineup. After collecting 72 hits and 39 RBIs in 101 games a year ago, Zimmer has tallied a .277 average this season with a pair of doubles and three stolen bases.
For as rough as the offense has been, Cleveland's pitching has been equally as dominant. The Indians rank third in the majors with a 2.75 team ERA, and will bring a fearsome foursome into Camden Yards. Trevor Bauer starts tonight's series opener opposite Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy. While Bundy is still searching for his first win of the season, Bauer picked his first victory up in his last start. Bauer allowed two earned runs across seven innings, bringing his season ERA to just 2.25. Bauer has tallied exactly seven strikeouts in all three of his starts this season. At 2.70, Mike Clevinger's ERA isn't quite up to snuff with the rest of the staff (sarcasm alert), but he's been just as impressive. Clevinger is 2-0 lifetime against the Orioles, including a 1-0 record pitching at Camden Yards. Corey Kluber, meanwhile, is proving he can dominate no matter where he pitches. Coming off of an 18-win campaign and his second American League Cy Young Award, Kluber is showing no signs of slowing down in 2018. He's 2-1 with a stingy 1.52 ERA this season and has tallied 33 strikeouts over four starts. Kluber might be licking his chops preparing to face an Orioles club that is last in the majors in strikeouts. It'll be Carlos Carrasco taking the bump in Monday's series finale. Carrasco has already picked up three wins on the year - tied for second in the American League - and has issued just three earned runs in his last three starts.
Cody Allen assumes the closer's role for the Indians. The 29-year-old has picked up at least 30 saves each of the past three years and has yet to allow a run in seven appearances this season. Along with Allen, the bullpen features former Oriole Andrew Miller, Nick Goody and Tyler Olson.