Major League Baseball

Means, Clevinger return as O’s host Indians

mlb1INDIANS (44-36) AT ORIOLES (22-58)
7:05 p.m. ET; MASN 2, ST-OH, MLB.TV

The Cleveland Indians and the host Baltimore Orioles will both feature starters coming off of injury issues when the teams meet in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.

For Cleveland, Mike Clevinger (1-1, 2.70 ERA) returns from the injured list after he missed one start due to a sprained ankle suffered June 17 versus the Texas Rangers. Clevinger had just come back from a muscle strain in his back that sidelined him for more than two months.

Clevinger has been terrific against the Orioles in his career. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five career starts, giving up just six earned runs in 30 innings while throwing one shutout.

John Means (6-4, 2.67 ERA) has been Baltimore’s most effective starter this season. He’s a left-handed rookie and a big surprise, but the Orioles are short of good starting pitching, which is why Means has been such a big help to them.

He missed his last turn in the rotation after going on the injured list due to a shoulder strain. Means told the Baltimore media it wasn’t a big deal and that he’d be ready to go in his next start. As of Thursday, that appeared to be the case.

Means’ only start against Cleveland came on May 18, when he allowed three runs on five hits in five innings, taking the loss in a 4-1 defeat.

For the Indians, the series is the beginning of an eight-game road trip — which also takes them to Kansas City and Cincinnati — before the All-Star break.

Cleveland has been hot this month. The Indians won five of six on a just-concluded homestand and are 15-6 in their past 21 games. Overall in June, they’ve belted 45 homers, a big reason for the success.

Jake Bauers and Tyler Naquin both homered Wednesday in a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals. But Thursday’s off day was much-needed, especially for the bullpen, which has been very busy recently.

“Our bullpen really deserves a day away from the ballpark,” manager Terry Francona said, per “If they come in to throw (on Thursday), they should be released.”

The Orioles’ bullpen also has been overused, for two reasons. The starters haven’t been able to go deep into games, and when relievers are in, they’re not getting outs frequently enough.

The Orioles have made numerous moves in search of more help for the ‘pen, regularly shuttling pitchers between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk, but they have yet to find enough quality options.

They made another set of moves Wednesday, sending right-hander Matt Wotherspoon back to Norfolk after a loss to San Diego while calling up left-hander Paul Fry earlier in the day.

Baltimore promoted Fry after placing left-hander Josh Rogers on the 10-day injured list. Rogers might need surgery on his elbow after testing showed some structural damage. He’s waiting for the results of a second opinion, according to the Orioles’ website.

One way or another, the pitching staff has put the team in too many holes.

“Recently, we’re giving up way too many runs, and it’s really hard to come back,” manager Brandon Hyde told reporters after the Orioles 10-5 loss to the Padres on Wednesday. “You score first and you’re looking for a shutdown inning, and there is a three-spot on the other half, and that’s tough to come back from on a nightly basis.

“Our pitchers aren’t trying to do that, they’re not trying to give up homers. They’re busting their butt. It’s just not happening.”

–Field Level Media

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