The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive Indians Kick Off Second Half Home Schedule With Orioles
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

tribe timeFresh off a 3-4 road trip against the American League East, the Indians will host the Baltimore Orioles in a four-game wraparound series at Progressive Field to kick off a seven-game homestand. With the trade deadline on the horizon, the standings a jumbled mess, and the Indians and Orioles separated by just one game in the wild card standings, this is a big series for both teams.

The Indians showed the inconsistency that has plagued them all season long during this past road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay. At times, the Indians pitched well, hit well, and played good defense. At other times, the Indians pitched poorly, hit beyond awful, and played average defense. Gaining ground continues to be an issue because the Indians seem to be losing three or four for every three or four that they win.

The Orioles are still living off their 29-22 start. Since the beginning of June, they’re 19-22 and have been outscored by 63 runs. Like the Indians, the Orioles have excelled in one-run games, where they are 18-6. They’re also 10-2 in extra innings. Since June 26, the Orioles are just 7-16, including a series where they lost three out of four at home to the Indians.

With the Tigers, who come to town on Tuesday, reeling off 10 of 12 and the White Sox allowing the Indians to stay in the hunt, this series is huge. It’s also Rock N’ Blast weekend down at the ballpark. Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game wraparound series.

lowe verticalFriday July 20, 7:05 p.m. ET; Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 2.57) v. Derek Lowe (8-7, 4.43)

Miguel Gonzalez is making just his third start of the season for the Orioles, who are desperate to find some starting pitching help. Against two tough lineups, the Angels and the Tigers, Gonzalez combined to go 12.2 innings pitched with a 2.84 ERA. He won one and lost one in those two starts.

It was a tale of two halves within the first half for Derek Lowe, who shined in his first nine starts and fell apart in the final eight. Beginning the second half in Toronto, Lowe pitched five perfect innings. Unfortunately, in the one imperfect inning, he allowed three runs and the Indians were shutout 3-0. Lowe has won just two of his last eight decisions.

As for Gonzalez, he faced the Indians in a mop-up role on July 1, allowing one run in 4.1 innings of work. Lowe faced the Orioles on June 29, allowing seven runs, four earned, in 5.1 innings of work. In 35 career appearances against the Orioles, Lowe is 8-8 with a 4.49. At home this season, he is 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA. Recent rains in the Cleveland area should have softened up the infield and that should benefit Lowe.

mcallister2Saturday July 21, 7:05 p.m. ET; Chris Tillman (1-1, 1.00) v. Zach McAllister (4-1, 3.17)

Chris Tillman’s ERA is, to put it nicely, misleading. He’s made two starts for the Orioles this season and has allowed eight unearned runs. He gave up six unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last start against Minnesota. Both starts have come against bad lineups, the Mariners and the Twins. Tillman did pitch very well in his return to the bigs against the Mariners on July 4, going 8.1 innings and allowing just the two unearned runs.

I’m not sure anybody thought that Zach McAllister might be the savior of the season, but it’s highly possible. With the Indians rotation struggling for some measure of consistency, McAllister has been a godsend. In McAllister’s eight starts, the Indians are 6-2. Some of his starts have featured some rocky moments, and he has allowed nine unearned runs in those eight starts, but McAllister has exceeded expectations.

Tillman is 0-1 in two starts against the Indians with a 9.00 ERA, allowing seven runs in seven innings. Both of his starts this season have come on the road. McAllister picked up the win in his only career start against Baltimore back on June 28, going 5.2 innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck six and walked only one. At home this season, ZMac is 2-0 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts.

tomlincamoSunday July 22, 3:05 p.m. ET; Zach Britton (0-0, 9.00) v. Josh Tomlin (5-6, 5.51)

Zach Britton made his return to the Majors on July 18 after going through a myriad of shoulder problems. He returned to the mound on June 6 in Triple-A after going through extensive rehab, including platelet-rich plasma therapy in his shoulder. In his first start back, he walked six in just four innings and showed signs of serious rust.

Josh Tomlin’s 2012 season continues to feel like a wooden roller coaster. In his first start in the second half, Tomlin gave up four runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work against Tampa Bay. That came after, arguably, his best start of the season right before the break on July 5 against Tampa when he threw seven innings of two-hit ball.

Britton faced the Indians once in 2011 and lost, giving up five runs in six innings. He’s made just one start this season, getting a no decision, but not pitching very well. Tomlin has made four career starts against the Orioles, going 4-1, but with a 5.73 ERA. Tomlin’s been better at home than on the road, but is still just 2-3 with a 4.54 ERA.

masterson01Monday July 23, 7:05 p.m. ET; Tommy Hunter (4-4, 5.71) v. Justin Masterson (6-8, 4.29)

Tommy Hunter has had a rough season. He’s allowed 21 HR in just 88.1 innings of work and was even taken out of the rotation for a couple weeks to try and get straightened out. It seemed to work as Hunter went from June 30 to July 18 without making a start, but beat Minnesota 2-1 in his first start back. Hunter’s only allowed 16 walks, but he’s given up 107 hits.

Justin Masterson will be thrilled to not have to face the Rays again this season. Masterson has a 3.68 ERA this season against everybody but Tampa. Masterson’s command completely failed him in his last start, issuing seven walks in just over four innings against Tampa. Masterson has had consistency issues, both with his command and overall performance, but he has shown flashes of brilliance.

Hunter is 1-0 in three appearances against the Indians, but with a 6.14 ERA and a .344 batting average against. Hunter has been terrible on the road in seven starts with a 6.81 ERA. Masterson has had mixed success against the Orioles, going 5-3 with a 4.74 in 11 appearances, but his last start against the Orioles was a gem. He pitched seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on July 1 in the series finale. At home, Masterson is 3-4 with a 3.54 in 2012.


Keys to the Series:

1. Relax and Play – The Indians struggled when they got runners in scoring position during their last road trip because they were pressing. They swung at bad pitches, tried to hit home runs, and fouled off a lot of pitches to hit. It usually takes a big hit to get guys to relax. Look at Jason Kipnis’s seventh inning single on Wednesday as proof.

2. A Team You Should Beat – The Orioles, despite their record, are a team the Indians should beat. Their starting rotation isn’t very good and their offense is average at best. The Orioles have also lost 16 of 23. They aren’t playing well. Take advantage of it.

3. Excite the Crowd – With this weekend being Rock N’ Blast, and Browns training camp on the horizon, this might be the last weekend that the Indians own the Cleveland sports landscape. They can get people excited about a potential playoff hunt with a good showing this weekend. At the same time, the fans need to show up.


Player to Watch:

The player to watch for this series is Asdrubal Cabrera. After going through a prolonged slump, he started to hit some balls real hard in the final three games of the Tampa series. He’s the Indians emotional leader and was the most consistent offensive player up until his rough patch. He looked like a guy who was starting to see the ball well, including hitting line drives from both sides of the plate. He could be ready to go on one of his really productive stretches.


Wishful Thinking:

Three out of four. Nothing else is acceptable with the Tigers coming to town. There’s a decent chance that Detroit is in first by the time they get here on Tuesday, given how they’re playing.


Central Focus:

The Tigers and White Sox will battle each other in Detroit with a prime pitching matchup in the opener with Peavy against Verlander. The Royals host the Twins.


One Last Thing...:

After a rough series for the umpires in Tampa, the idea of robot umps is becoming really enticing.

The TCF Forums