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MLB: Previewing the Baltimore Orioles vs. Cleveland Indians

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The Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians are ready to take to the diamond for their second series of the 2015 campaign on Friday, as both clubs will look to emerge from their current fourth place standing in their respective division.

While the Indians have been unable to find any consistency early in the season aside from a six-game winning streak in mid-May, the Orioles have seemingly started to kick their bats up a notch in the month of June. Baltimore has scored five or more runs in 11 of its 19 games thus far during the month, which included a 19-run onslaught on the Philadelphia Phillies a few weeks ago and a 13-run outing against AL East rival Toronto this past week.

That trend seems to bode well for a Baltimore team that, despite being fourth in the division at the moment, is only two and a half games out of first. With the bats rocking right now, the O’s could find themselves at the top of the AL East mountain sooner rather than later.

What Did the First Series Tell Us?

Ironically enough, it was the Cleveland series in early June that kickstarted the defending AL East champions after some early struggles. The Orioles took two of three from the struggling Indians, which started quite the positive trend of 10 wins in 12 contests for Baltimore.

Cleveland’s problem in that series was the same that its been pretty much all season long, as they just couldn’t find ways to muster up the runs needed to win the set. The Indians totaled six runs in the three games, which obviously wasn’t enough considering the warming up of the bats on Baltimore’s side. That should come as no surprise for Indians fans, as the squad still sits well in the bottom half of the league (21st) in terms of overall team batting statistics.

The only saving grace for Cleveland in the first set between these clubs was the pitching of Danny Salazar in the second game, but he won’t be on the mound for the Indians in this particular series.

Who Should You Be Watching In This Series?

The pitching in this series may leave something to be desired, but fans of fine hitting may certainly get their money’s worth. With the Orioles swinging the bats better than ever these days, they should provide a lot of offensive against a Cleveland pitching staff that has been less than reliable many times throughout the campaign.

With Baltimore boasting the outstanding hitting duo of Jimmy Paredes and Manny Machado – who both sit in the top eight in AL batting totals – it’s going to be a tough task for the Indians to completely shut down this lineup. Not to mention if Orioles center-fielder Adam Jones returns to the squad from injury before the start of this crucial series.

Luckily, the Indians do have some offense of their own. Obviously, it all starts with current AL batting average leader Jason Kipnis, whose numbers continue to skyrocket given his impressive form at the moment. The guy just knows how to hit and he will be the key factor in Cleveland’s chances to walk out of this three-game set with a victory.

Two Squads Heading In Completely Opposite Directions?

Don’t look now, but the Orioles and Indians could have completely opposite roads ahead of them. Baltimore will be getting Cleveland on Friday night in the first of seven straight home contests, which bodes well for a club that is well above average when it comes to winning at home.

As for the Indians, well, despite the fact that they are indeed a better road squad than home squad this season, it’s more about the competition. After starting with three games in Baltimore, then it’s on to Tampa for four meetings with a Rays club that sits atop the AL East. After that? Three incredibly difficult games against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have already hit the 40-win mark and have been excellent at PNC Park.
There’s no doubt that this will be an entertaining series to watch. But for Cleveland, this one holds a whole lot more importance if the Indians want to get back into contention.

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