The Baltimore Orioles have been fortunate to stay in contention for the AL East lead with their recent woes and look to turn things around when they open a four-game series versus the Cleveland Indians Monday at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are still within striking distance of the Boston Red Sox at two games off the pace, but the New York Yankees have the same mindset at 2 1/2 games back. The Orioles will host the Yankees for three games this upcoming weekend.
Baltimore recently lost all three of its matchups in Toronto and was trounced, 13-5, in Sunday's finale at Rogers Centre. Freddy Garcia got the start and lasted only 2 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and seven runs. T.J. McFarland was touched for five runs in 4 1/3 innings of relief. Ryan Flaherty homered twice and drove in three runs for Baltimore, which went 2-4 on the road trip.
"This series, they came out and they were competitive," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said. "They whooped us. But we'll see them again very, very soon."
Actually, the Orioles won't see Toronto again until July 12-14 at Camden Yards.
Cleveland won't see home for a while and will open an 11-game road trip Monday.
The Indians will make stops at Baltimore, the White Sox and Kansas City and went 6-3 on a recent homestand. They failed in an attempt to sweep the Minnesota Twins in three games with Sunday's 5-3 loss, which halted a four- game winning streak. Jason Kipnis and Michael Bourn both had three hits and Drew Stubbs went deep for the Tribe, who are still 8-3 in the past 11 games and four games in back of the Tigers for the AL Central lead.
Carlos Carrasco was dealt the loss for allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"We lost a tough game today," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But if we play like this, we're going to be okay. I'll take our chances."
Francona's club is 8-3 in Ubaldo Jimenez's last 11 starts and looks to improve that number Monday against the O's. Jimenez last pitched in Tuesday's 4-3 win over Kansas City and did not record a decision, allowing two runs and two hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked four batters and has issued at least that many four times this season.
Jimenez has made 14 starts, going 5-4 with a 4.66 earned run average, and has held opposing lineups to a .228 batting average. The right-hander has never faced the Orioles and is 3-1 in seven road starts.
Countering for the Orioles will be Zach Britton, who is slated for his third start of the season and made his 2013 debut April 29 at Seattle, allowing six runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 6-2 loss. After a lengthy stint in the minors, Britton returned in Tuesday's 5-2 win at Detroit and pitched well through 5 1/3 innings. He was touched for only one run on five hits and three walks.
Britton, who went 11-11 in 28 starts in 2011, has a 5.56 earned run average this season and is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two career starts against Cleveland.
The Orioles and Indians split eight matchups a season ago.