A .500 season wasn’t what the Cleveland Indians were hoping for this season. Considering where they were a few months ago, that would be a very impressive accomplishment.
The Indians look to take another step toward the break-even mark Wednesday night when they continue a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Coming off an AL Central title, the Indians (70-73) expected to at least contend for a playoff spot this season. Injuries to run producers Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez and the trade of ace CC Sabathia, however, derailed any chance they had at another postseason appearance.
Cleveland sunk to a season-low 16 games under .500 at 37-53 on July 9, but has been one of the AL’s best teams since, going 33-20. While the surge came too late to make a run at the playoffs, it has given the Indians a chance at finishing above .500.
Hafner had two hits in his return from the disabled list and Jeremy Sowers threw eight strong innings as the Indians rebounded from Monday’s loss with a 6-1 victory Tuesday.
Hafner had two singles and a walk in his first appearance since going on the disabled list May 30 with a strained left shoulder.
“He looked good, (took) a couple of strong swings,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I felt like it was a great start for him in regard to him getting back with us and getting back into the swing of things here at this level.”
Hafner is batting .355 (43-for-121) with six homers and 32 RBIs in 32 games against Baltimore.
The Indians, winners of 12 of 14 on the road, have split six meetings this season with the Orioles (64-79).
Baltimore has lost 14 of 16, posting a 7.35 ERA during that span. Radhames Liz lasted 4 2-3 innings Tuesday, marking the 13th time in those 16 games that an Orioles starter failed to pitch six innings.
Baltimore hoped to have third baseman Melvin Mora in the lineup Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 29, but his strained left hamstring tightened up during batting practice. Mora, second on the team with 97 RBIs, isn’t expected to play Wednesday.
Lewis, who turns 25 on Sept. 26, was 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 13 starts for Akron and 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Buffalo. He was moved back to Double-A at the end of the season so he could pitch in the playoffs.
Chris Waters (2-2, 5.40) seeks his first win in four starts for Baltimore. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three outings since beating Boston on Aug 20. He gave up three runs, three hits and three walks over 5 1-3 innings in an 11-2 loss to Oakland on Friday.
Poor control has been the biggest problem for Waters, who has walked 19 and hit two batters in 38 1-3 innings.
This will be his first appearance against the Indians.