Next on the calendar for the Orioles is a three game series against the Cleveland Indians over the weekend. Sitting at 30-24, the Indians hope to gain some ground on a 2.5 game gap between them and the AL Central leading White Sox. The Orioles, winners of their last two games, hope to ride the positive momentum and gain some ground back that was lost during their 14-game losing streak.
Before this series begins, the Orioles have something they haven’t had since May 17th; a day off. The starting rotation for this series will be shaken up a bit due to the time off, with Keegan Akin throwing game one on Friday, John Means in game two, and Jorge Lopez game three. Lopez is coming off two great starts, where he’s allowed just four runs in a combined 12 innings with 10 strikeouts.
In other news, Hunter Harvey is expected to re-join the team this weekend against the Indians. If healthy, he can be a much needed piece for the Orioles bullpen that had gotten beaten up during the last road trip.
Without further ado, here are the Baltimore Battery’s Keys to the Series!
1. Continue to improve with RISP
In the last series against the Twins, the Orioles were 7-27 with runners in scoring position. Although a .260 average isn’t great, that was an improvement on the team’s average. It was enough for a series victory, but an improvement on that 7-27 in this series would be nice. Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle both appear to be fully healthy, which will help improve that number by itself. To actually help this problem, the bottom of the order has to hit when the top of the order is on base. Pedro Severino and Maikel Franco both homered in the last series, so hopefully that sparks a hot streak for them. That would go a long way.
2. Limit the damage
The Cleveland Indians are still in second place after a salary dump because they left enough pieces in their lineup that can do damage. If the Orioles pitchers, Keegan Akin and Jorge Lopez especially, get behind these Cleveland hitters and let them swing freely, they can end games quickly. Jose Ramirez, Eddie Rosario, and Franmil Reyes all have power that can make Camden Yards look tiny. First pitch strikes are very important for all three starters, and eliminating walks and free bases will really help minimize the damage.
3. Close the series strong with Means and Lopez
Regardless of game one, the Orioles can come away with two out of three and a series victory with good starts by Means and Lopez. John Means is 4-1 with a 2.05 era. If the offense can offer him run support like they did in the last two games of this past series, we don’t have to worry much about that. For Lopez, the key is to continue where he left off. He is coming off two starts that are vast improvements on his earlier ones. He has gone six innings in both of his last two starts, both his longest outings this year. Against this Cleveland lineup, having good command of his breaking pitches, while staying ahead of hitters so he can throw them, will do him Lopez very well. If he can have a start like his last two, and the Orioles can capitalize on John Means pitching game two, this can be a surprise series win for the second series in a row.
Here are the lineups for game one!
Cleveland Indians (30-24):
- Cesar Hernandez 2B
- Amed Rosario SS
- José Ramirez 3B
- Harold Ramirez RF
- Eddie Rosario LF
- Owen Miller DH
- Josh Naylor 1B
- Austin Hedges C
- Bradley Zimmer CF
Baltimore Orioles (19-37):
- Cedric Mullins CF
- Trey Mancini 1B
- Anthony Santander RF
- Freddy Galvis SS
- Ryan Mountcastle DH
- DJ Stewart LF
- Maikel Franco 3B
- Stevie Wilkerson 2B
- Pedro Severino C
Game one of this series kicks off Friday at 7:05 pm ET. You can catch each game on MASN or on the Orioles’ flagship radio station, 105.7 The Fan!
What are your thoughts on this series against the Indians? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow The Baltimore Battery on the web and on Facebook and Twitter!