The clubs will each try to open the second half on a positive note Thursday night in the first of four games at Camden Yards.
Not considered a threat to compete for its first AL Central title since 2007, Cleveland (47-42) has been atop the standings for the majority of the season. Sunday’s 7-1 loss to Toronto - the team’s third in a row - dropped the Indians one-half game behind Detroit and prevented them from leading the division at the break for the first time in 12 years.
“Not many outside this clubhouse expected much,” designated hitter Travis Hafner(notes) said. “We’ve done a great job, especially with so many hitters going on the disabled list. Hopefully this break will help, we’ll get to full strength and play even better.”
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo(notes) (thumb surgery) could be out until September and starter Mitch Talbot(notes) (lower back) was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, but rookie third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall(notes) hopes to be in the lineup Thursday after getting hit in the face with a fastball last week and Fausto Carmona(notes) (strained right quadriceps) is expected to start Monday at Minnesota.
Cleveland has won four in a row and nine of 12 against the Orioles (36-52), who lost seven straight heading into the break and are in the AL East basement.
“My hopes were higher,” president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told the Orioles’ official website.
Manager Buck Showalter would like to see more of the team that opened 6-1 than the one that’s dropped 12 of 13.
“Hopefully guys get as far away as possible from it and come back and play these last 74 games like we have at times this year,” said Showalter, who won’t manage this game after being suspended by MLB hours before this game for his part in Friday’s bench-clearing brawl in Boston.
Closer Kevin Gregg(notes) was given a four-game suspension due to his actions Friday, and reliever Mike Gonzalez was banned three games for intentionally throwing at Boston’s David Ortiz(notes) two days later after both sides had been warned.
Gregg and Gonzalez have decided to appeal, making them available for this game.
Masterson has nearly an identical run-support average (3.38) as Baltimore’s scheduled starter Jeremy Guthrie(notes) (3.35), but Masterson is 2-1 with a 0.40 ERA in his last three starts and owns the AL’s seventh-best ERA while Guthrie is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his last four starts and has a major league-worst 12 losses.
Masterson allowed one run and four hits over seven innings to beat Baltimore 8-2 in Cleveland on April 15. However, he’s 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four appearances - two starts - at Camden.
Guthrie (3-12, 4.18) allowed six runs and 10 hits over five innings of an 8-3 loss to the Indians on April 16. He had been 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his only other two starts against Cleveland, the team he broke in with in 2004.
Hafner is a .365 career hitter versus Baltimore and went 6 for 9 with two homers and three RBIs in a three-game home sweep of the Orioles from April 15-17. He is 4 for 6 versus Guthrie.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy(notes) gets his first look at the Indians in an Orioles uniform after missing the April series with a strained left oblique. Hardy hit safely in his last 12 games against Cleveland last season with Minnesota.