The Cleveland Indians’ five-game winning streak was snapped Wednesday, and with their season all but assured of ending in September, they’re more concerned with the future.
The Indians hope to get a glimpse of it Thursday, when Zach Jackson - acquired as part of the CC Sabathia trade - makes his Cleveland debut in the finale of a four-game series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
Jackson was one of four players acquired by the Indians (54-65) when they dealt their ace to Milwaukee last month, but Cleveland may not have been expecting much from Jackson after he had started the year 1-5 with a 7.82 ERA in 22 appearances for Triple-A Nashville.
The 25-year-old left-hander has been much better for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, going 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA in eight appearances - four starts. He was promoted this week after the Indians traded starter Paul Byrd to Boston in a waiver deal that will net the team a player to be named or cash.
“We wanted to take a look at him,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site. “He’s been throwing the ball pretty (well), and obviously we like the guy, because we traded for him.”
Jackson made two relief appearances for the Brewers this season but hasn’t had a major league start since 2006, when he was 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in seven starts.
He’ll face a Baltimore lineup that’s been red-hot lately. Even though the last-place Orioles (57-62) had lost three straight before beating Cleveland 6-1 on Wednesday, they’ve scored 44 runs in their last six games, led by outfielder Nick Markakis.
After a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance in Wednesday’s victory, Markakis is 16-for-36 (.444) with two homers and 18 RBIs in his last nine games. He’s 8-for-12 with eight RBIs in this series.
“He’s a big league hitter and he’s become a very good situational hitter,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley told the Orioles’ official Web site. “And I think the other thing that he’s done the last couple of months is work the count in his favor. He’s not afraid to spit on pitches and he’s not reluctant to hit with two strikes. I think that’s the sign of a guy that is real confident.”
Despite its surging offense, Baltimore allowed 35 runs in losing three in a row. Jeremy Guthrie settled things down Wednesday, tossing seven strong innings in the victory.
Daniel Cabrera looks to follow suit as he tries to build on his first scoreless outing of the season. Cabrera (8-7, 4.78) had allowed seven runs in three of his previous four starts, but pitched six innings in Baltimore’s 9-0 win over Texas on Saturday.
The right-hander has pitched well against the Indians in two career starts, throwing 14 innings and allowing seven hits and one run in victories in 2005 and 2007.