After a three-day respite for all but two players, the Indians get back to the wars on Thursday night when they open a four-game trip to Baltimore to take on the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Justin Masterson will get the first start of the unofficial second half, looking for his third straight win after a six-game losing streak that was far from his fault. Masterson (7-6, 2.64 ERA) has defeated Cincinnati and the Yankees in his last two starts.
Masterson also worked a scoreless inning in relief against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
Justin held the Orioles to just one run in seven innings of work to get the win back on April 15 when the Indians prevailed in Cleveland 8-2. In that win -- part of a three-game sweep of the Orioles -- Masterson allowed four hits and one walk and fanned three, to run his career mark against the Birds to 3-3 in nine appearances. Masterson still has a high 5.20 career ERA vs. Baltimore, but he has become a dominant starter this season so that high number can be taken with a grain of salt.
Baltimore will send Jeremy Guthrie to oppose the Tribe. Guthrie has only a 3-12 record, but that does not tell the whole story, as Guthrie's ERA is only 4.18.
Guthrie faced the Indians and lost 8-3 on April 16, going five innings and surrendering ten hits and six runs, and is 2-1 in five appearances against The Good Guys in his time in the Majors, with a 5.91 ERA in 21.1 innings of work.
Baltimore has lost seven games in a row and is basically done for the 2011 campaign as far as contention goes. The Orioles are last in the American League East at 36-52 and are 18 games behind the Red Sox, as well as seven games behind fourth-place Toronto.
The Orioles, however, are 22-22 at home, so don't expect a four-game cakewalk here.
Baltimore is tied for 10th in the Majors in hitting at .258, and is led offensively by Nick Markakis at .292. Mark Reynolds has a low .227 average but leads the O's with 20 homers, while Reynolds and Adam Jones are tied with 49 RBI apiece.
The Indians, losers of their last three and in second place, a half game behind Detroit in the AL Central, are hitting .250 as a team, good for a tie for 19th in the Majors. Travis Hafner leads in batting average at .325, while Asdrubal Cabrera leads in both homers and RBI with 14 and 51, respectively.
The Tribe expects to have Lonnie Chisenhall back for this series, and has added Ezequiel Carrera to the squad to fill the roster-spot vacated by Mitch Talbot, who has been placed on the 15-day DL with lower back pain.
The first three games of this series are all at 7:05 before it wraps up at 1:35 on Sunday. Then it will be on to Minnesota for another four-game set, including a doubleheader on Monday, one game of which will be a make-up game for a rain out during the Indians' first visit to face the Twins.