Pregame Notes: Cleveland Indians still seeking elusive .500 mark in rubber match vs. Orioles

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After a tough loss on Friday evening, the Cleveland Indians rebounded nicely in a gritty performance by starter Danny Salazar, who earned his sixth win of the season. The Tribe’s hard-throwing right-hander tossed seven innings of one run baseball while posting his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. 

The Indians offense has sputtered again in this series, tallying just four runs across the first two games, but they mustered up enough with the bats to take Game 2 with RBIs from Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana.

Looking to win the series this afternoon, manager Terry Francona will hand the ball to Carlos Carrasco. The team’s leader in wins, Carrasco has been fantastic over his last three starts. He has surrendered just four earned runs across 21 innings in that time span, striking out 23 batters in three consecutive wins.

Carrasco enters the game on a seven-game streak with six or more innings with at least six strikeouts and three or fewer walks.

Opposite Carrasco will be Bud Norris, who was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list this morning. Norris will make his first start since May 10 after heading to the disabled list with bronchitis.

In six starts for the O’s this season, Norris is 1-4 with a putrid 9.88 ERA. He has thrown just 27.1 innings over those six starts while allowing 38 hits and 30 earned runs. He has allowed at least three earned runs in seven consecutive starts dating back to last season.

The Tribe will attempts to stretch that number to eight as they, again, attempt to hit that ever-elusive .500 mark this season. They sit just one game behind the Tigers for fourth place in the division and just five games off the division lead in a struggling AL Central.

Here are the starting lineups:

The Indians aren’t saying much about Michael Brantley right now, but he seems to be getting a lot more days off than usual. According to FantasyPros.com, Francona did acknowledge he suspects Brantley is playing through the back pain that affected him at the beginning of the season. No DL stint seems imminent at this point, but his health is certainly something to keep an eye on.

News & Notes:

-As it was reported a few weeks ago, the Indians players shaved their heads in support of Mike Aviles‘ daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia last month. Today, Tribe owner Paul Dolan and awarded Aviles with the unique opportunity to shave his boss’s head.

-If there was any doubt about Yan Gomes in his return from the disabled list, the Tribe’s young catcher answered the call yesterday. Not only did he have two hits for the second straight day, but Gomes ended yesterday’s affair by gunning down Chris Davis for the back end of a strike ’em out, throw ’em out. Great play all around.

"#DontRunOnYan — especially with 1 out and 2 strikes in the 9th! https://t.co/usBJ6cH65p— #VoteKip #VoteTribe (@Indians) June 7, 2015"

According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, the Indians top four starters (Corey Kluber, Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Salazar) are 11-3 with a 2.49 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 133.2 innings pitched since May 13 (19 starts).

Next: Were the Indians wrong to DFA Sands?

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