Indians aim to get offense going again vs. Orioles
The Cleveland Indians followed up back-to-back loud performances at the plate with a quiet one on Friday as the Baltimore Orioles evened their four-game series at one victory apiece.
The Indians aim to get back on track when they host the Orioles on Saturday, one day removed from being limited to just three singles and stranding eight men on base in a 5-1 setback.
The pedestrian offense was an all-too-familiar theme this season for manager Terry Francona's club, which appeared to be turning the corner in its previous two games. Cleveland followed a 9-0 romp over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday by posting season highs in runs and hits (14) two nights later in a 14-7 victory versus Baltimore.
The Indians hope to receive a jolt from Adam Plutko on Saturday, as the right-hander will be summoned from Triple-A Columbus to make his season debut. The move will allow right-hander Shane Bieber to start the series finale on an extra day's rest.
"With Adam not having a ton of innings under his belt, asking him to wait another two or three days, that's making it harder for him," Francona said. "Trying to be as fair as we can to him. And any time you can give (the regular rotation) an extra day, that's not going to kill them, either."
Plutko made two starts for Columbus, including a one-run, two-hit performance over five innings against Syracuse on Sunday.
The 27-year-old posted a 4-5 mark with a 5.28 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 17 appearances (12 starts) with the Indians last season. He lost his lone start versus Baltimore despite permitting just three runs on as many hits in seven innings of a 4-2 setback on Aug. 18.
While the Indians failed to find their rhythm at the plate on Friday, the Orioles recorded a season-high seven extra-base hits (two homers, five doubles) to post just their second win in nine outings.
"Every day we come here, we try to play our best and get a win regardless of what happens the day before," said Baltimore's Stevie Wilkerson, who homered, had an RBI double and made a leaping catch in center field to deny Carlos Gonzalez of extra bases in the eighth inning.
Wilkerson is 4-for-8 with a homer and four RBIs in the series for the Orioles, who will turn to rookie left-hander John Means (5-3, 2.33 ERA) on Saturday.
Means has won four of his past five outings and allowed one earned run or fewer in each of the four wins.
The 26-year-old yielded one run in his second straight trip to the mound on Sunday and scattered four hits over six innings of a 5-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels.
Means will be making his 12th career appearance (seventh start), but he will be facing the Indians for the first time.
He will hope to slow Jason Kipnis. The Cleveland second baseman followed his two-homer, career-high six-RBI performance in the series opener by reaching base safely for the 12th consecutive game Friday.
Francisco Lindor also had a single to hit safely for the 10th time in 11 contests, although the Indians failed to follow through after their previous offensive explosion.
"You know, we'll try again (Saturday)," Cleveland's Carlos Santana said after seeing his team held in check. "Up and down (the lineup). It's a long season, and we'll have to keep (the intensity) up."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 18, 2019