Indians come home seeking 16th consecutive victory
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians became the hottest team in baseball while on the road.
Cleveland, riding a club-record 15-game winning streak, returns home Friday night for the opener of a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on SportsTime Ohio
The Indians won all 11 games of their road trip against the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. Cleveland has outscored opponents 109-28 during the winning streak, while Indians pitchers held the opposition to two runs or fewer in 11 of the 15 games.
“It’s fun, obviously,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It (was) a productive road trip. Other than that, there are other things hopefully we get caught up in, like our defense being so much better.
“The winning streak is enjoyable and has gotten people’s attention. But other than that, we’ll just go play (our next game). It makes the games a little more fun because people are watching and they care.”
The Orioles are the next team that gets a chance to halt Cleveland’s winning streak. The Indians have pulled away from the pack in the American League Central — they lead the second-place Minnesota Twins by 11 games — and still have a chance to run down Houston for the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs.
Cleveland (84-56) trails the Astros (86-53) by 2 1/2 games, but the Indians only need to finish in a tie with Houston. Cleveland went 5-1 versus the Astros this year.
“We’re having fun, we’re enjoying the game, but we’ve still got a month to go,” Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said.
The Orioles (71-69) are just two games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second AL wild card, but the schedule does Baltimore no favors this weekend.
“We’re playing one of, if not the best team in the American League in the next three days,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Baltimore recently won seven in a row to climb back into the wild-card race but then lost four of seven at home to the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.
“It’s there for us,” Showalter said. “We’re going to have to have a little help. If you won every game you played, somebody’s got to lose. You control some things, but some things you don’t.”
The Friday night pitching matchup has Baltimore left-hander Wade Miley (8-11, 4.91 ERA) opposing Cleveland righty Mike Clevinger (8-5, 3.50).
Both pitchers shined in their past three starts, Miley going 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA, Clevinger 2-0, 2.20.
The same two get a rematch of the Indians’ 6-3 victory over the Orioles on June 22 at Camden Yards. Miley pitched five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and two walks. Clevinger worked five innings, giving up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and four walks for the win.
In four career starts against Cleveland, Miley is 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA. Clevinger has made two starts in his career against Baltimore, going 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA.