Regardless of the outcome of the series finale in Cleveland, this has been a very disappointing road trip for the Baltimore Orioles .
Heading home with a series win would at least soften the blow somewhat.
Baltimore's Zach Britton tries to translate his recent minor league success to the big stage Wednesday night when he faces the Indians in his first start in nearly two months.
Taking two of three from contending Oakland late last month had the Orioles (73-64) feeling good about starting their nine-game trip to Boston, New York and Cleveland. The trek, however, began with four losses in five games before they rallied late Sunday to avoid a sweep at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore failed to gain ground in the wild-card race while the Indians (73-65) moved within one-half game of them."We did a lot of good things tonight," manager Terry Francona said. "We played a nice crisp game. That's how we have to play."
Yan Gomes had a two-run double and Asdrubal Cabrera added a pair of sacrifice flies for Cleveland, which needs a win in the finale to avoid losing three consecutive series for the first time since early June.
Gomes delivered a in a key situation Tuesday but that's been a rarity lately for the Indians, who are 6 for 49 (.122) with runners in scoring position the past eight games.
Jason Kipnis is batting .393 (11 for 28) with three homers during an eight-game hitting streak against the Orioles.
He's 3 for 5 with a double against Britton (2-3, 4.76 ERA), who will be inserted into the rotation after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday. The left-hander, who hasn't pitched in the majors since allowing five runs over five innings in an 8-4 loss to Texas on July 9, went 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his last four starts for the Tides.
The Orioles will use a six-man rotation this week, with the other five starters moved back one day."This just fit better where we are, physically, right now, but I told all the guys that we'll revisit it after (Sept.) 9th," manager Buck Showalter said. "They understand that we're going to put our best foot forward in these final 25 or 26 games."
Britton was very sharp in his most recent appearance at Progressive Field, tossing six scoreless innings in a 4-3 victory July 22, 2012.
Carlos Santana - hitless in his last nine at-bats overall - is 3 for 6 with a pair of doubles against Britton.
Zach McAllister (7-8, 3.81) looks to bounce back from a disappointing outing for Cleveland. The right-hander was tagged for five runs and six hits with four walks over 3 2-3 innings of a 7-2 loss at Detroit on Friday. He went 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his previous three starts.
McAllister lost his only career start against the Orioles on July 21, 2012. He gave up three runs and five hits - including two homers - over 7 2-3 innings.
J.J. Hardy is 3 for 6 with a home run off McAllister.
A victory Wednesday would give the Orioles their first season series win against the Indians since 2006.
|August 31, 2013||Eric Beaulac||60-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 16, 2013||Francisco Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
|July 29, 2013||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Right forearm tenderness|
|July 14, 2013||Nolan Reimold||60-Day DL||Nerve inflammation in cervical spine|
|June 21, 2013||Michael Morse||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|August 29, 2013||Scott Barnes||60-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 28, 2013||Cord Phelps||60-Day DL||Right wrist inflammation|
|August 19, 2013||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 19, 2013||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 06, 2013||Corey Kluber||15-Day DL||Sprained finger, right hand|
|July 20, 2013||Corey Kluber||Day-to-Day||Left hip tightness|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- With some help from their lucky chicken, the Cleveland Indians passed some other birds in the wild-card race.
Yan Gomes and Ryan Raburn drove in two runs apiece as Cleveland beat Baltimore 6-4 and jumped the Orioles on Wednesday night in the scramble to win one of the AL's two wild-card spots.
The live chicken, presented as a gift to reliever Cody Allen , was on the field for batting practice. The bird, supplied by clubhouse workers from an area farm, was given to Allen, who was nicknamed "Chicken Al" by pitcher Frank Herrmann in spring training. The chicken has been named "Cody."
While manager Terry Francona said the chicken will be returned safely to the farm, the bird may have to make a return engagement as the Indians continue their playoff push.
"If we get on roll, that's going to be our mascot," Raburn said. "Whoever's the owner of it, we're going to have to keep that sucker if we keep winning. We're going to have to get him his own locker."
The chicken, carried on the field by staff ace Justin Masterson , spent most of batting practice standing with Cleveland's pitchers in front of the warning track in center field. Allen, as his teammates made clucking noises in his direction following the game, was initially reluctant to discuss his gift but finally relented.
"It was funny," he said. "It was a very calm chicken. It handled itself well. We scored six runs so maybe the chicken will be here tomorrow."
Allen said two of his teammates came up with the idea. Although pitcher Rich Hill was rumored to be involved, no names were divulged.
"It's kind of an anonymous duo," Allen said.
Francona knew about the joke ahead of time but was still surprised to see a chicken on a baseball field.
"I'm pretty OK as long as we win, but I don't know about farm animals," he said.
The Indians came off a tough road trip to Atlanta and Detroit, in which they went 1-5 and lost ground in the wild card race before playing Baltimore. Francona is happy that his team is remaining loose.
"I think it's great," he said. "We're into September. ... I actually love it. Guys are trying to have fun. That's the best way to be a good team."
The Indians moved a half-game in front of Baltimore in the chase for a playoff spot. Cleveland began the night 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second wild card.
Relievers Bryan Shaw (3-3), Allen, Joe Smith and Chris Perez , who recorded his 22nd save, combined to allow one hit in 4 1-3 innings.
"The chicken got us a win. ... I'm sorry. ... Cody got us a win, Chicken Al pitched well," Smith said.
Gomes broke a 4-all tie with an RBI single in the fifth when the Indians scored twice to go ahead for good. A wild pitch by Kevin Gausman (2-4) with the bases loaded scored the second run.
Cleveland scored four times in the first, but starter Zach McAllister couldn't hold the lead.
Adam Jones hit a solo homer in the fourth. Manny Machado 's three-run homer tied it in the fifth.
Raburn's two-run double, along with RBI singles by Gomes and Mike Aviles , got the Indians off to a quick start.
McAllister allowed four runs in 4 1-3 innings. Orioles starter Zach Britton lasted 3 1-3 innings in his first start since July 9. The left-hander, called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, allowed four runs and six hits.
The Orioles finished 3-6 on their nine game trip against playoff contenders. They also lost two of three in Boston and New York.
"I choose to trust these guys and continue to believe that good things are ahead," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Jones was hit on the left arm by a pitch in the second. He was in obvious pain as he headed to first, where he was visited by Showalter and a team trainer. The two spoke with Jones, who remained in the game.
The three-game series between teams chasing a playoff spot drew a total of 36,504 fans. Tuesday night's turnout of 9,962 was the lowest September/October crowd in the history of Progressive Field, which opened in 1994.
NOTES: Orioles closer Jim Johnson , who leads the AL with 41 saves, pitched the eighth. It was his first appearance since Aug. 29. ... McAllister, who struck out six, is 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA in nine starts since returning from a sprained right middle finger on July 22. ... Gomes batted in the fifth spot for the second time this season. ... Orioles slugger Chris Davis stole second in the fifth - his second stolen base of the season. ... Orioles 2B Ryan Flaherty made his first start since being recalled from Single-A Frederick on Tuesday. ... The Orioles open a four-game series Thursday at home against the Chicago White Sox. Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez (8-7) faces Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (7-5). ... The Indians are off Thursday. Cleveland begins a three-game home series Friday against the New York Mets . Indians LHP Scott Kazmir (7-7) takes on RHP Zack Wheeler (7-3) in the opener.