The Cleveland Indians try to string back-to-back wins together tonight when they continue a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
With the team mired in a five-game losing streak, Indians manager Manny Acta called a team meeting prior to the start of Thursday's contest with the Orioles. The pep talk seemed to have done the trick, as Johnny Damon, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera all homered in the Indians' 7-2 win.
"It's a very long season, a roller coaster where you go up and down," Acta said. "It's about staying positive, sticking together and just making sure that you do what you're supposed to do and not panic."
The Indians were coming off a sweep at the hands of the Yankees as well as a series loss to the Houston Astros where they scored 11 runs total. They had also allowed at least five runs in each of those games.
However, Zach McAllister (2-1) provided the team the best start its had in a while, allowing only two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He had been recalled from Triple-A Columbus earlier in the day.
"No, not really," McAllister said regarding the pressure of pitching amidst a five-game losing streak. "Everyone knows we want to win and need a win. That's the expectation that we need to win, and I was able to help them out."
Wei-Yin Chen (7-4), who has been part of the reason for the Orioles' surprising success this year, had one of his lesser outings by giving up six runs, six hits and three walks in 6 1/3 frames.
J.J. Hardy accounted for all of Baltimore's offense with a two-run homer as the O's fell for the seventh time in nine games.
"I think it's all mental," Hardy said of the recent woes. "The more it's brought up that we're struggling, it works more as a negative. We just need to relax."
Tonight, the Indians turn to veteran Derek Lowe, who has lost his last three decisions. Lowe was defeated by the Astros on Sunday, but pitched well, surrendering three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings to fall to 7-6 on the year to go along with a 4.28 ERA.
"I thought Derek did a tremendous job for us," Acta said after the game. "He threw the ball well. He threw 16 ground balls and just two fly balls. Some of them went through, but the majority of them went to our infielders.
"He did just a fantastic job to keep us in the game. So he deserves a lot of credit. We just couldn't back him up offensively."
Lowe has faced the Orioles 34 times (16 starts) and is 8-8 with a 4.38 ERA against them.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with struggling right-hander Jake Arrieta, who is 3-9 with a 5.55 ERA. Arrieta did not get a decision on Sunday against Washington, as he allowed a run and five hits in six innings of his team's 2-1 win.
"This year, the mental side of the game has affected me the most in my career thus far," Arrieta said. "That's part of the maturation process of pitching at this level, and that's something that you have to go through and battle through."
Arrieta is 1-0 in two starts versus the Tribe, despite allowing 10 earned runs in 11 innings against them.
Cleveland won five of its seven matchups with the Orioles last season.