Back at Camden Yards after a tough road trip taking them through their AL East rivals, the Baltimore Orioles enjoyed some homecoming in the first game of their three game series against the Cleveland Indians. They will hope to continue this momentum in Game 2 today (7.05pm ET, Saturday).
Following the All-Star break, the schedule seemed to be kind to the Orioles as they were set to face the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, both teams that have really struggled this year. However, as so often seems to happen in this divisional games, both Tampa Bay and New York took games away from Baltimore and made the race for first place in the AL East that much closer. As things currently sit, the Orioles are down to just a half game lead over the Boston Red Sox and just two games over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles benefit from returning home, a place that has been good to them all year. Baltimore has the best record of all MLB team when on home turf, going 33-14 in games at Camden Yards. This will be an advantage and one that the Orioles will need against the AL Central-leading Indians, who counter with the MLB’s best road record at 30-22. Given those two stats it makes deciding the betting picks for this preview a close call.
Once called the “Windians” because of their incredible winning streak which perhaps not so coincidentally aligned with their brother team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning the NBA championship, the Indians have hit their stumbling block since going 22-6 in the month of June. Just 5-5 in their last 10, Cleveland has opened the door in the Central as both the Detroit Tigers and defending World Series champion, Kansas City Royals, now find themselves within striking distance.
The last time these two teams met for a series back in mid-May, it was Baltimore that emerged the better team. On the road, the Orioles took two of three, part of an impressive 7-2 record Baltimore owns against Cleveland dating back to the 2015 season. This is in addition to the stellar 16-6 mark the Orioles own against the AL Central this season.
Game 1 saw Dylan Bundy face off against Trevor Bauer in a match-up of top-5 picks from the 2011 MLB Draft. After scoring three runs off Bauer in the first, Baltimore added two more, completing all of their scoring in the first three innings. This was enough of a lead for Bundy who pitched lights out, allowing just one unearned run in five innings and picking up his first MLB win as a starter in the process. Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado provided the scoring with two blasts and the bullpen continued to excel when given a lead after eight as Zach Britton picked up his AL-leading 31st save.
Britton has been perfect this season, converting all of his save opportunities and doing so while allowing just a 0.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .155 opponent’s batting average and an insane 48:11 strikeout to walk ratio. All of those numbers have him leading his league as the best closer in baseball currently. Britton has been a huge part of the Orioles’ success this year and when he’s handed the ball, it’s about as sure a thing you could ask for.
Game 2 Pitching Match-Up: (BAL) Kevin Gausman vs (CLE) Josh Tomlin
On paper, Cleveland looked to have the pitching advantage in Game 1 but a strong start by Bundy and slip-up from Bauer erased any edge. In Game 2, once again, the paper points to Cleveland, behind the resurgent Josh Tomlin, as having the better chance to pick up the win.
The 31-year-old Tomlin who is enjoying a career year, is 10-2 this year with just a 3.34 ERA. His teammates and others around baseball have even taken to calling him the road warrior as Tomlin is a perfect 6-0 with just a 2.44 ERA away from Cleveland. This is among the best in MLB.
However, over the course of his career, the Orioles have seemed to have Tomlin’s number. The last time he pitched against them, over four years ago, Tomlin did not fare well. Overall, in six games, five starts, Tomlin has a 5.02 ERA against the Orioles and is allowing their hitters to bat .328 against him.
Opposite him on the mound is Kevin Gausman (pictured), whose season has not exactly been as stellar as he or the Orioles would have hoped for. Gausman enters the game with just a paltry 1-7 record as well as a 4.05 ERA. He’ll be making just his second career start against the Indians, the first of which saw him surrender just one run and two hits over six strong innings.
Gausman has been a bit of a mixed bag this year but his record is not entirely indicative of how he’s pitched. The 25-year-old righty will rely on his strengths and his albeit limited sample size of shutting down Cleveland’s hitters to give him the extra confidence that he has, at times, been lacking.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles Game 2 Betting Picks
As important as it is to talk about the pitching match-ups, that is not the only story especially when it comes to Cleveland, one of the best offensive teams in the league. Baltimore’s staff is strong no doubt, but silencing this line-up will be easier said than done.
The star-studded top nine is headlined by the young and up-and-coming shortstop Francisco Lindor (.299, 12 HR, 49 RBI). He is backed by two-time All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis (.285, 16 HR, 52 RBI), perennial sluggers Mike Napoli (.249, 22 HR, 67 RBI) and Carlos Santana (.255, 21 HR, 54 RBI) and speedster Rajai Davis (.263, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 24 SB). Thanks to these top to bottom offensive talents, the Indians boast the third-best scoring offense in the AL (5.02 runs per game) while ranking fourth in the American League in home runs (125).
Both Baltimore and Cleveland have been less than their usual selves but both have the full potential and full health to get it done. With Cleveland’s top record on the road and Baltimore’s at home, it’s anybody’s guess who manages the win in Game 2. Given how Game 1 went, it seems likely Cleveland will come out swinging, but will it be enough? This preview’s concluding betting picks are: