After surviving a demanding early portion of their schedule, the Cleveland Indians are surging.
The Indians look to extend their winning streak to six when they open a three-game series against the slumping Baltimore Orioles on Friday at Jacobs Field.
Cleveland (12-7) is in first place in the AL Central, despite having a four-game series with Seattle postponed due to weather and being forced to play a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Milwaukee because of snow at Jacobs Field.
The Indians started the season 6-6, but have won six of their last seven games.
“Like we talked about during that rough stretch,” manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official Web site, “you saw the work going into it, in terms of approach. It takes time for that to leak into the game. We’re starting to see that.”
Cleveland defeated Texas 9-4 on Thursday, and is averaging 7.0 runs during its five-game winning streak.
While the offense is clicking overall, designated hitter Travis Hafner went 0-for-3 on Thursday, continuing his struggles at home.
Hafner is batting a mere .172 (5-for-29) in eight home games, including the three played at Miller Park. In five games at Jacobs Field this season, he is just 1-for-18 (.056).
He is hitting .488 (20-for-41) in 11 road games.
Hafner, who hit .308 with a career-high 42 home runs last season, looks to break out of his slump against the Orioles, against whom he has been spectacular. In his career at Jacobs Field against Baltimore, he’s batting .404 (19-for-47) with three homers and 19 RBIs, hitting safely in all 12 games.
Jake Westbrook (0-2, 9.15 ERA) takes the hill for the Indians on Friday still seeking his first win of the season. The right-hander gave up four runs and four hits in seven-plus innings but did not earn the win in Sunday’s 6-4 victory over Tampa Bay.
Westbrook, who won a team-high 15 games a year ago, has allowed at least seven runs in two of his four outings this year, and was also knocked around by the Orioles last season, giving up 13 runs in 10 2-3 innings in two starts.
The Orioles (11-11) lost 5-2 to Boston on Thursday, their fourth straight defeat.
“We were trying to win that ballgame at all costs,” manager Sam Perlozzo said. “We pulled everything out we could and it just didn’t work.”
Shortstop Miguel Tejada went 0-for-4 in the loss and saw his 10-game hitting streak snapped. However, Tejada was 10-for-25 (.400) with seven RBIs in six games against the Indians last season, and is batting .385 (10-for-26) in his career against Westbrook.
The Orioles start Steve Trachsel (1-1, 4.37) for Friday’s series opener. The right-hander allowed one run and four hits in 5 1-3 innings to earn his first victory with Baltimore in a 7-3 win over Toronto on Sunday.
Trachsel, who spent the last six seasons with the New York Mets, has not faced the Indians since June 15, 2004, when he allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-2 victory. He is 2-3 with a 7.01 ERA in five career starts against Cleveland.