(Photo credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)
Before receiving a much-needed day off, the visiting Baltimore Orioles will aim for a split of their four-game series against the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday.
The Orioles (96-59) ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory Saturday and sit 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Tampa BayRays in the American League East.
Baltimore will play its final road game of the regular season before enjoying its first day off since Sept. 7 on Monday. The Orioles will finish with two games against the Washington Nationals and four against the Boston Red Sox.
"This stretch that we've been, the schedule-makers need to take a look at it because it's really unfair and unhealthy," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said before Saturday's contest. "To do this to a team in September, especially the teams that we are playing, I'm just really proud of our guys."
Baltimore right fielder Anthony Santander had three hits and two RBIs in Saturday's win. Santander is 13-for-26 with seven extra-base hits (five doubles, one triple, one homer) and 11 RBIs in six games against the Guardians this season.
Cleveland (74-82) had its season-high six game home winning streak snapped on Saturday, one day after being officially eliminated from postseason contention.
The Orioles will send right-hander Kyle Gibson (14-9, 5.00 ERA) to the mound in the series finale. He allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Houston Astros last Tuesday.
Gibson, 35, was quick to credit his team's consistent play both in the field and at the plate after the game.
"They're taking a lot of pressure off the pitching staff, being able to score those runs, get us a lead and keep the lead, right?" Gibson said. "And then add on. The way they add on in games is really, really impressive."
Jose Ramirez is 13-for-36 (.361) with one home run against Gibson, who is 4-10 with a 5.55 ERA in 22 career games (21 starts) vs. Cleveland.
The Guardians will counter with right-hander Triston McKenzie (0-1, 4.50), who will make his first appearance since suffering a right elbow sprain against Houston on June 10.
McKenzie, 26, posted a 7.36 ERA over 6 2/3 innings in a pair of minor-league rehab starts this month. He is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts against Baltimore.
Cleveland second baseman Andres Gimenez is riding a seven-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 18 of his past 21 games played. He's also drawn high praise from manager Terry Francona for other parts of his game.
"If there's a better defender at second, I mean, I know I'm biased, but I mean he's so good at second and he's a really, really good base runner," Francona said. "There's so many things that boost his game."
The Guardians are monitoring the status of shortstop Gabriel Arias, who exited Saturday's game in the fifth inning after being hit on the right wrist with a pitch.
"He got scanned and it's just a bruise, so it's going to be a little sore tomorrow, I'm sure," Francona said. "But he's OK."
--Field Level Media