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Orioles @ Indians lineups and game notes - August 15

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J.J. Hardy returns to the lineup! Woo! and Caleb Joseph will be doing the catching as the Oriole lineup faces a tough foe in Corey Kluber in game one in Cleveland.

Mitchell Layton

So the beginning of "No Machado: Phase III" started well enough. The bats seemed asleep through the first seven innings but they awoke just in time. And we managed to learn a few things. Like Delmon Young probably needs to stick to DH and that Zach Britton is human. But perhaps the best lesson was that Jonathan Schoop has officially become a "Yankee killer". The O's will need him to bring some of that magic with him to Ohio.

Pitchers

RHP Corey Kluber, Cleveland

2014 stats: 25 G, 13-6, 2.46 ERA, 171.2 IP, 148 H, 10 HR, 36 BB, 187 SO, .231 BAA, 1.07 WHIP
Last start (@ NY Yankees): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0 ER, W
Career against Baltimore: 2 G, 1-1, 4.63 ERA, 11.2 IP, 16 H, 3 BB, 13 SO

It's pronounced "CLUE-burr". Even though Kluber is not going to win the AL Cy Young award (that distinction looks like it is Felix Hernandez's to lose) he is a name we all should know. Right now, the Indians right-hander is third in the AL in ERA, tied for second in wins, fourth in strikeouts, fourth in innings pitched and tied for third in complete games. Long story short: the guy has been a beast in 2014.

He has come out of nowhere in only his second full big league season after laboring in the minors for the better part of six seasons. The Stetson alum baffles hitters with four pitches. His fastball, thrown 52 percent of the time, zooms in at just a tick over 93 mph. The cutter, thrown 27 percent of the time, has great late life and comes in at just under 90 mph. The curveball is used to keep hitters off-balance, being throw 16 percent of the time at a leisurely 82 mph. And the changeup has become more of a "show me" pitch that he only features four percent of the time. It clocks in at around 85 mph.

His last start against the Birds was back in May. He threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and two walks while amassing nine strikeouts in an Indians win. This has "high strikeout game" written all over it. If the O's can put more balls in play then they will give themselves a shot.

LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore

2014 stats: 22 G, 12-4, 3.90 ERA, 129.1 IP, 141 H, 19 HR, 23 BB, 96 SO, .277 BA, 1.27
Last start: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 6 SO, 4 ER, L
Career against Cleveland: 2 G, 0-1, 7.62 ERA, 13.0 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 4 SO

The Orioles lefty is not an elite pitcher but for some reason, the team is always competitive when he starts on the hill. He averages five runs of support per start. That is the eighth most in all of baseball. Of course, that didn't happen his last time out as the Blue Jays held the O's to one hit; a Chris Davis home run.

And Chen takes advantage of those runs. He is tied for eighth in the AL in wins despite having the third highest ERA of all the pitchers in the top 20 in wins.

The key for him will be keeping the ball in the ballpark tonight. Cleveland is middle of the pack in terms of power, but Chen seems to give 'em up to everyone; he is sixth in the AL in home runs allowed. His saving grace is how few walks he allows. His 23 walks to 129.1 innings is one of the best ratios in the game.

The last match-up with the Indians was not a pretty one for the southpaw. While he went 6.2 innings, he gave up five runs on eight hits and only struck out one. The Orioles will need better tonight if they are to compete with Kluber.

Lineups

Orioles (w/ career stats against Kluber)

RF Nick Markakis (L) 1-for-7, .143 BA, 1 SO
1B Chris Davis (L) 1-for-4, .250 BA, 1 2B, 2 BB, 1 SO
CF Adam Jones (R) 2-for-6, .333 BA, 2 SO
LF Nelson Cruz (R) 3-for-9, .333 BA, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 SO
DH Delmon Young (R) 4-for-12, .333 BA, 1 2B, 5 SO
SS J.J. Hardy (R) 2-for-4, .500 BA, 1 BB
3B Ryan Flaherty (L) 2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 SO
C Caleb Joseph (R) none
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) 1-for-3, .333 BA, 1 SO

This lineup just feels better than the one fielded against the Yankees on Wednesday night. Hardy is back and Joseph returns behind the plate. However, Davis hitting second is still questionable. If he was hitting even in the .230-.240 range it may make sense since his OBP would likely reflect that. But right now, it causes one to scratch their head again as to why you put the struggling hitter in a position to get so many at-bats.

On the bench: David Lough (2-for-6 with a triple against Kluber), Steve Pearce (never faced), and Nick Hundley (never faced).

Having Manny may have helped a bit. Who knows? He is only 1-for-3 with two strikeouts against Cleveland's starter.

Indians (w/ career stats against Chen)

2B Jason Kipnis (L) 0-for-3, .000 BA, 1 SO
3B Mike Aviles (R) 1-for-11, .091 BA, 1 BB, 3 SO
CF Michael Brantley (L) 3-for-5, .600 BA, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB
1B Carlos Santana (S) 1-for-3, .333 BA
C Yan Gomes (R) 2-for-5, .400 BA
LF Ryan Raburn (R) 1-for-5, .200 BA, 1 HR, 2 SO
DH Zach Walters (S) none
RF Tyler Holt (R) none
SS Jose Ramirez (R) none

Their statistics reflect exactly who they are as a team: average. They have a record of 60-60. They are eighth in the AL in batting average and home runs, ninth in strikeouts, eighth in stolen bases, seventh in slugging. They are as middle of the road as it gets.

Michael Bourn has been activated from the disabled list today but is not in the lineup. He is 2-for-6 in his career against Chen.