After finally homering off a struggling staff, the Indians look to win their third straight series when they meet the Orioles in the finale of a four-game set on Thursday night.
Cleveland (71-73) beat Baltimore 7-1 on Wednesday, getting two solo homers from Kelly Shoppach to end a season-high stretch of six straight games without hitting a home run.
Given the state of the Orioles’ staff, it’s somewhat surprising the Indians didn’t end their drought sooner.
Baltimore has a 5.10 team ERA, and has surrendered 170 homers. Thirty-two of those have been given up in the Orioles’ last 20 games, during which they have posted a 7.07 ERA en route to losing 17 times.
Shoppach, who has been a bright spot for the Indians this season, finally connected against Baltimore. It was the third multihomer game of the season for Shoppach, who has seven homers in his last 17 games. Overall, the catcher has a career-high 17 homers and 48 RBIs this year.
Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 and is stuck in an 0-for-19 skid. He leads the team with 31 homers, but hasn’t hit one since clearing the fence twice versus Detroit on Aug. 25.
The Indians, batting .315 in this series, will now face the Orioles’ Brian Bass (0-0, 10.80 ERA), who was acquired in a trade with Minnesota on Friday and will be making his first major league start.
The right-hander, whose only appearance for Baltimore (64-80) was in relief, is being pressed into duty after Jeremy Guthrie was scratched from his start Tuesday with the flu.
“Bass is probably the freshest arm. I think that’s pretty basic right there,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
Bass gave up two runs in 1 2-3 innings during an 11-2 loss to Oakland later on Friday. He has not received a decision in four career relief appearances against Cleveland, posting a 4.76 ERA.
The Indians will counter with Zach Jackson (0-2, 5.64), who has lost two straight starts. The left-hander, acquired from Milwaukee in the July trade involving CC Sabathia, gave up three runs and nine hits in seven innings as Cleveland lost 3-1 to Kansas City on Saturday.
Jackson’s first appearance against the Orioles was on Aug. 14, when he gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings in an 11-6 loss.
Jackson will be facing a Baltimore lineup that will likely be without Melvin Mora again. Mora has been sidelined since Aug. 29, when he strained his left hamstring while running out a grounder against Tampa Bay, and he has been scratched from the starting lineup the past two days.
“I don’t know what the timeline is,” Trembley said. “I thought he was ready to play yesterday and he went out there and said he felt some tightness. So I guess we’ll just wait until Melvin says he’s ready.”