The Cleveland Indians didn’t have the services of Michael Brantley all weekend, so fellow middle-of-the-order sluggers Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion picked up the slack and then some. The Indians expect to welcome back their No. 3 hitter from paternity leave as they eye a season-best sixth straight victory Monday when they visit Baltimore for the first of four games against the Orioles.
With Brantley away from the team for the entire four-game set against Minnesota, Ramirez went 11-for-18 with six doubles and two homers out of the three-hole, while Encarnacion took advantage of his hot-hitting teammate with three homers and eight RBIs. Cleveland outscored the Twins 28-8 during the road sweep to improve to 21-14 away from home and overtake Minnesota atop the American League Central. Baltimore also used the weekend to get right, totaling 23 runs on Saturday and Sunday to take two of three at home from St. Louis to win a three-game series for the first time in June. The Orioles homered 10 times during their set with the Cardinals, getting two apiece from Trey Mancini, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.15 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Dylan Bundy (7-5, 3.29)
Kluber was sharp over seven innings Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite being unable to win a third straight start, settling for a no-decision after permitting two runs on four hits while fanning 10. The 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner posted his third double-digit strikeout game over his last five outings and has recorded at least eight in six of his last seven outings. Schoop is 4-for-9 with a home run against Kluber, who fanned eight over seven innings in a no-decision versus the Orioles last year.
Bundy notched only his second win since May 6 on Wednesday in Chicago thanks in large part to his offense after the White Sox tagged him for five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks over five innings. The 24-year-old Oklahoman hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in two of his last three turns and is 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA since beginning the season 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA. Bundy yielded one unearned run across five innings to pick up the victory in his only start against Cleveland last season.
1. Ramirez has strung together six consecutive multi-hit games, batting .593 and scoring nine runs over that stretch.
2. Trumbo belted his 10th home run of the season Sunday, allowing the Orioles to join the New York Yankees as the only team to have six hitters with at least that many this season.
3. Cleveland is batting .332 with 12 doubles, 12 homers and a .308 average with runners in scoring position while outscoring foes 40-13 during their winning streak.
PREDICTION: Indians 7, Orioles 4