Orioles finding power stroke as surging Indians visit
BALTIMORE -- After winning back-to-back games for just the second time this month, the Baltimore Orioles will hope to keep their offense humming as they begin a four-game series with the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians on Monday.
The Orioles (34-34) found their power stroke in a pair of weekend wins over the St. Louis Cardinals. They clubbed five home runs in Saturday's 15-7 win and five more in an 8-5 victory Sunday.
Over the three-game series, the Orioles hit 10 home runs, which is the most they have hit in any series this season.
"In reality, we need to start winning some games. Everyone knows that," said Baltimore outfielder Seth Smith, who began Sunday's game with his third leadoff homer of the season. "So, it's good to win the last two."
Prior to their victories over the Cardinals, the Orioles had lost eight of their previous nine games. They had not won back-to-back games since June 6-7, when they rallied in the late innings for a pair of home wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Indians (36-31), meanwhile, come into the game riding a five-game winning streak that has vaulted them into sole possession of first place in the American League Central for the first time since May 10.
They entered their weekend series in Minnesota trailing the Twins in the standings by two games in the standings before sweeping all four games.
"We weren't playing very good team baseball before that last series (at home) and I think it was kind of a wake-up call," Cleveland outfielder Bradley Zimmer said. "You look around and you realize, in my opinion, we have the best team in the league, and I think if we play up to our potential and everyone does what they've been doing and contributes offensively, defensively, guys in the bullpen, I think we'll be just fine."
Free-agent acquisition Edwin Encarnacion has been swinging a hot bat lately. He homered three times in the Twins series, including twice in Sunday's 5-2 victory.
"I don't think anybody has a doubt about what they are going to be at the end of the year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Cleveland. "Good club. Well run."
This will be the Indians' only visit to Camden Yards this season. The teams will meet again Sept. 8-10 in Cleveland. Last season, the Orioles won five of the six meetings between the teams.
The starting pitching matchup for Monday's series opener is a good one with the Orioles' Dylan Bundy (7-5, 3.29 ERA) opposing Cleveland's Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.15 ERA).
Since coming off the disabled list June 1 after missing a month with a lower-back injury, Kluber is 2-0 with a no-decision in three starts.
Bundy, meanwhile, won his last start June 15 against the Chicago White Sox despite surrendering five runs -- four of them earned.
Updated June 18, 2017