After a successful road trip, the Cleveland Indians return home with a chance to even up at .500 with 108 games left to play
Still sitting at fourth place in the American League Central, the Cleveland Indians have returned themselves to relevancy with a strong month of May and now sit just one game behind the Detroit Tigers for the third spot in the division.
It has been a long road, but the Tribe has played excellent baseball as of late. Their starting pitching has been unbelievable (which led to this story by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports) and the offense, albeit inconsistent, has been among the best in the division.
Cleveland is now winners of 12 of their last 17 games and has notched four straight road series wins. It is at home, where they are just 10-14 this season, that this team has struggled most in the first two months of this season.
Shaun Marcum looks to change that tune tonight, as he takes the ball to kick off the weekend series with the Baltimore Orioles. Marcum is 2-0 on the year with a 5.49 ERA. He was blown up for seven runs on 2.2 innings of work against the Rangers in his lone start at Progressive Field, but contributed two strong outings in his only other two starts of 2015.
The Tribe has struggled to find a quality fifth starter for much of the first two months, but Marcum has used his veteran presence and gritty performances to limit the damage and give manager Terry Francona a shot to win every fifth day.
Opposite Marcum will be Chris Tillman who has been absolutely atrocious this season. The Orioles Opening Day starter, Tillman is 0-6 with a 6.10 ERA over his last seven starts and he’ll face a Tribe team who has enjoyed a fair amount of success against him throughout his career. Jason Kipnis has two hits, including a home run, in six at-bats against him while Nick Swisher has hit .278 with a home run in 18 at-bats against the right-hander.
Here are the starting lineups:
News & Notes:
-Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback and Cleveland native Cardale Jones will throw out the first pitch tonight. The Indians took the National Championship-winning quarterback up on his offer after Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott got the same opportunity in his hometown of St. Louis.
-After a slow start, Indians closer Cody Allen has been on fire over his last 12 appearances. Over that stretch, Allen has thrown 12.1 innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out 17 batters. He has eight saves in a 1.46 ERA during that stretch.
–Carlos Carrasco, who will take the mound for game three of this weekend series, is in the midst of a seven-game streak in which he has thrown six-plus innings, struck out six or more batters and surrendered three or fewer walks. According to August Fagerstrom of MLB.com, that is the third-longest such streak in Indians history, trailing only Corey Kluber (9) and C.C. Sabathia (8).