Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis just can't stay off the bases.
Kipnis absorbed an 0-2 fastball from Orioles lefty Zach Britton in the first inning of Monday's series opener, extending his on-base streak to 26 games. He also doubled and scored in Cleveland's 5-2 win at Camden Yards.
On Tuesday, Kipnis will look to continue inflicting damage at the plate, where he has operated at a .392 clip with 11 extra-base hits this month. Righty Chris Tillman is scheduled to throw for the home club opposite Tribe right-hander Justin Masterson in the second of a four-game series.
"He's doing some damage," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Saturday, when Kipnis came within a home run of the cycle. "He's not just getting hits. He's stealing bases, hitting the ball in the gap, hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He's doing a lot of good things."
After a slow start to the season, Kipnis has a .282/.360/.486 slash line, along with nine home runs and 41 RBIs. Though he has a respectable batting average, it took him the season's first 19 games to get above .200 for good.
Stopping Kipnis in his tracks would be a good start for a Baltimore club that has lost four straight. On Monday the Orioles blew a two-run lead by surrendering three runs in the sixth inning and two more in the eighth.
Baltimore's pitching didn't fare too badly in the series' first game, but Orioles hurlers have a 4.56 ERA, second-highest across Major League Baseball.
The Orioles recalled pitching prospect Kevin Gausman from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday after optioning veteran Freddy Garcia. The fact that so many O's pitchers have struggled or been overworked has resulted in many such transactions over the course of the season, and manager Buck Showalter knows his staff will need to turn things around to achieve another playoff appearance.
"How we pitch as starters dictates a majority of these moves," Showalter said. "Not only by the length you get, but by how we pitch. Same thing with every team. The team that consistently goes deep in the ballgame with its starters, they play in October. It's as simple as that."
Indians: Masterson seeking better road result
With nine wins, Masterson is near the top of the Major League leaderboard. Overall, he's 9-5 with a 3.48 ERA. The sinkerballer has struggled away from Progressive Field, however, going 3-4 with a 5.12 ERA in seven road starts.
"The bad games have come on the road," Masterson said after his last outing, a quality start at home that ended with a win over Kansas City.
In 12 career games (eight starts) against Baltimore, Masterson is 6-3 with a 4.29 ERA. At Camden Yards, though, he is 2-2 with a 6.43 ERA over six games (four starts).
Orioles: Tillman trying to extend June success
Tillman has taken the ball four times in June. In each outing, he helped lead the Orioles to victory and earned a win for himself. The right-hander has a 2.25 ERA and 17 strikeouts against 10 walks over 24 innings this month.
"I think it was a battle from the get-go," Tillman said after his last appearance, in which he allowed three runs across five innings. "I really didn't have a feel for a single pitch today."
Despite that, he won his fourth straight. Over 15 outings this season, he is 8-2 with a 3.71 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 5.27 ERA in three career starts against Cleveland.
• Though first baseman Chris Davis went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Monday, he is still batting .331 with 24 doubles, 27 homers and 70 RBIs through 76 games. He is 2-for-9 with two doubles, a walk and five strikeouts against Masterson.
• The two clubs split last year's season series, 4-4. The Indians are 51-44 at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992. All time, Cleveland has the edge over Baltimore, 425-389.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.