Cleveland, which fell a half-game shy of leading its division at the intermission for the first time since 1999, will kick off its second half against Baltimore, a team reeling from seven straight losses. The Orioles are 18 games out of first place -- the largest deficit of any American League team -- as the second half begins.
The Indians, meanwhile, trail Detroit by the thinnest possible margin in the AL Central. Cleveland is 20-24 on the road this season and 13-12 against division rivals, but a 15-14 record against AL East teams has helped keep the Indians afloat. The Orioles, meanwhile, are 10-22 against teams from their division.
Cleveland will go with Justin Masterson in Thursday's series opener, and he'll be trying to keep up a trend of consistency on the mound. The right-hander is 2-1 with an 0.38 ERA in his past four appearances, and he managed to post a 7-6 record with a 2.64 ERA -- sixth in the league -- in the first half.
The rest of the Indians' rotation is in flux: Mitch Talbot, who has a lower back strain, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera was called up from Triple-A Columbus to provide some extra help off the bench, while the rest of the rotation remains undecided beyond the first three: Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco.
Baltimore is still trying to set up its rotation and will go with Jeremy Guthrie in the series opener. Guthrie, who worked a multi-inning relief stint in Sunday's loss to the Red Sox, has won just once in his past 10 outings. The right-hander has gone 2-4 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 appearances at Camden Yards.
After Guthrie, the Baltimore rotation appears to get a little dicey. Jake Arrieta looks set to start on Friday, and he'll be followed by swingman Alfredo Simon on Saturday. The Orioles appear uncertain who will start in Sunday's series finale, but they could go back to reliever Mitch Atkins.
Cleveland went into Sunday with a half-game lead over Detroit, but it slid back into second place after suffering a 7-1 loss to Toronto. The Indians had been in first place for 10 days' running prior to that setback. The Indians have gone into the All-Star break with a winning record just three times in the past 10 years.
Indians: Santana working his way back at plate
Carlos Santana had two hits on Sunday to raise his batting average to .230 for the season, 30 points lower than in his star-turn rookie campaign last season. The switch-hitting backstop has hit 13 home runs and delivered 41 RBIs, and he's reached base safely in 66 of his 84 games played this season.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Santana has proven to be durable and healthy. Santana missed the end of last season with a serious knee injury, an ailment that hasn't been a factor this season.
Orioles: Wieters proves doubters wrong
Matt Wieters, derided in some circles as a bust before the season, became Baltimore's first catcher to make the All-Star team since Mickey Tettleton in 1989. Wieters leads all big league catchers by gunning down 24 runners this season, and he's the only starting catcher that hasn't been charged with a passed ball.
In the Midsummer Classic, Wieters went 0-for-1 as a replacement for Detroit's Alex Avila.
The Orioles have lost eight straight and 20 of their past 25 road games. Baltimore is 22-22 at Camden Yards this season. ... The Orioles are 11-19 in series openers and 12-18 in series finales this season. ... The last time the Indians held a first-place lead at the All-Star break was 1999, when they owned a 13-game advantage over the White Sox. ... The Indians have won seven of their past 13 games.