Published May 22, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - A streaking last-place team meets a tumbling former first-place opponent on Thursday night, when the Cleveland Indians visit Camden Yards open a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles.
The Indians enter the series after a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, including Wednesday night's bizarre ending in which Al Alburquerque's bases- loaded balk in the bottom of the 13th inning allowed Asdrubal Cabrera to score the winning run in an 11-10 triumph at Progressive Field.
Cleveland had dropped four straight before sweeping the Tigers, who lead the American League's Central Division. The Indians are in last place in that five-team loop, 7 1/2 games behind.
"A few weeks ago, we really didn't show a whole lot of fight," Cleveland's David Murphy said. "The type of day that we had, nobody is going to say die. Nobody is going to throw in the towel. Nobody is going to throw away at-bats. Everybody is going to go up there and fight until it's over."
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin had been scheduled to start the opener with the Orioles, but he wound pitching the final three innings of Wednesday's game.
Cleveland opted on Thursday to move right-hander Justin Masterson up a day to pitch Thursday's opener, with Friday's starter now to be determined.
Masterson has allowed 12 runs over back-to-back losses, giving up seven of those on seven hits and five walks over 4 1/3 frames in a setback to Oakland on Sunday. He fell to 2-3 on the year with a 5.06 earned run average.
Masterson has faced the Orioles 14 times prior, 10 of those starts, and is 6-5 with a 4.78 ERA.
Baltimore enters the series after a 3-3 road trip that ended Wednesday with a 9-8 loss at Pittsburgh, in which Tony Sanchez's single in the bottom of the seventh inning drove in the deciding run at PNC Park.
Starter Chris Tillman was ineffective for Baltimore, permitting eight runs -- six earned -- on six hits and three walks before being yanked with no one out in the bottom of the second.
Nelson Cruz finished 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI to pace the Orioles offensively. Chris Davis, coming off a three-homer performance in Baltimore's 9-2 win in Tuesday's opener, and Nick Markakis each ended 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Baltimore has lost seven of 10 games and is now third in the American League's East Division, a half-game behind the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.
Getting the start for the Orioles is lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who aims for a third straight win.
He was a 2-1 winner over Kansas City in his last start last Thursday after allowing a run on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
He's faced the Indians once in his career and took a 7-2 loss in June 2012.
Chen's home earned run average is 3.12, while it swells to 4.43 in road games.
On Wednesday in Cleveland, after Alex Avila's homer off Tomlin (3-1) in the top of the 13th gave Detroit a 10-9 lead, the Indians got going in the bottom of the inning.
Michael Aviles began Cleveland's half of the frame with a single off Phil Coke (0-1). Michael Bourn then sacrificed him to second and Cabrera was hit by a pitch before Michael Brantley's single to left plated Aviles with the tying run.
Murphy, who forced extra innings with a two-run ninth-inning homer, then grounded out to move the runners up and force Coke from the game in favor of Alburquerque, who intentionally walked pinch-hitter Yan Gomes before balking on a 1-0 offering to Ryan Raburn.
Murphy finished with two hits and four RBI. Brantley went 4-for-7 with three RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases for the Tribe, who overcame a four- run first-inning deficit.
Cleveland won four of seven over Baltimore last season.