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PREVIEW: Kluber, Indians aim for series lead against Orioles

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians (10-8) and Baltimore Orioles (6-15) continue play on Sunday afternoon from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Md.

Time: 1:05 p.m. ET

Starting Pitchers: RHP Corey Kluber (2-1, 1.52) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (1-2, 3.00)

TV:  SportsTime Ohio

Online: MLB.TV

Radio: WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM, Indians Radio Network

Starting Lineup – Cleveland Indians

SS Francisco Lindor

2B Jason Kipnis

3B Jose Ramirez

LF Michael Brantley

DH Edwin Encarnacion

1B Yonder Alonso

C Yan Gomes

RF Tyler Naquin

CF Bradley Zimmer

Starting Lineup – Baltimore Orioles

LF Craig Gentry

DH Pedro Alvarez

SS Manny Machado

CF Adam Jones

1B Chris Davis

3B Tim Beckham

RF Anthony Santander

C Caleb Joseph

2B Luis Sardinas

1.Crushing Cashner: In a small sample size of two games against Cashner, the Indians are slashing .314/.386/.431 (.817 OPS) with six doubles and seven RBIs over 51 at-bats. The most recent matchup came on June 29, 2017, when the 31-year-old right-hander surrendered five runs on six hits throughout five innings.

Cashner is throwing his fastball at a career-low 91.9-mph velocity but has an 8.7 percent swinging strike rate, his highest clip since 2012. The biggest difference this season has been his elevated use of the slider and curveball, and his decreased use of the fastball and changeup…

Slider usage in 2017: 12.2 percent

Slider usage in 2018: 15.2 percent

Curveball usage in 2017: 8.4 percent

Curveball usage in 2018: 16.2 percent

Fastball usage in 2017: 65.3 percent

Fastball usage in 2018: 60.1 percent

Changeup usage in 2017: 14.2 percent

Changeup usage in 2018: 8.5 percent

2. Two extremes: The Tribe’s offense remains as the worst in baseball, entering play with a .211/.285/.353 (.637 OPS) slash line, 22 doubles, 22 home runs and 59 RBIs over 18 games (621 at-bats). Its pitching, however, ranks second in baseball with a 2.64 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .201 opposing batting average over 167.1 innings.

If manager Terry Francona and company want to pursue a third consecutive AL Central title, then a balance between both sides of the ball will be necessary. While April’s cold weather may be a factor, the Indians still have five players with a batting average below the Mendoza Line, two of whom are former All-Star Game selections (Edwin Encarnacion: .138 and Jason Kipnis: .181).

3. Miller, Allen nearing perfect April: With nine games over the final nine days of April, both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen have a perfect stat line. Miller has struck out eight over 8.1 shutout frames, while Allen has three saves after tossing eight scoreless innings.

The late-inning duo has grown accustomed to early-season success, as Allen landed AL Reliever of the Month honors in April 2017 after firing 10 innings of one-run ball. Miller was just as dominant last April, giving up zero runs on seven hits over 10 appearances (11.2 innings).

John Alfes has covered Cleveland sports since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

John Alfes is a senior at John Carroll University, and hails from Westlake, Ohio. His love and passion for the game of baseball originated in 1998, when he played catch with his father at the age of two. A former collegiate pitcher, Alfes currently serves as a Cleveland Cavaliers reporter for AP Radio/Metro Networks and the Cleveland Indians Beat Writer for CBS Sports/Scout Media Network, all while majoring in Communications (focus in Journalism) and English (focus in Professional Writing). He is the Sports Editor for The Carroll News, Sports Director for WJCU 88.7 FM and Senior Writer for the John Carroll Sports Information Department. John is an Eagle Scout and loves his two younger brothers (Conrad and Daniel) and two parents (John and Celeste). You can follow John Alfes on Twitter (@JohnAlfes) or reach him through email (

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