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CLE@ATL: Masterson whiffs six Braves over six innings

Life on the road hasn't been suitable for Baltimore or Cleveland lately.

The Indians return to Progressive Field on Monday following a 1-5 road trip that went through Atlanta and Detroit. The Orioles are in the midst of a nine-game road swing in which they lost two out of three at both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

Despite their recent results, both clubs are still relevant in the American League Wild Card race, with both teams chasing Oakland and Tampa Bay.

Each team is coming off a sweep-averting win and will look to heat up this week at Progressive Field. The Indians will turn to All-Star Justin Masterson (14-9, 3.49 ERA) in Monday's series opener, while the Orioles are set to tab Bud Norris (3-1, 4.91 ERA).

"We've had a tough road trip as far as results go," Indians manager Terry Francona said before Sunday's win. "There's no getting around that. We haven't put ourselves in a very good position for where we are trying to get. But until somebody tells you you're out of it, you go 100 mph and keep playing."

Francona has been around the game long enough to know that, with 26 games left on the Indians' schedule, anything can happen.

"Do we have to do something special? Yeah, maybe," Francona said. "There's always a special team. You want it to be you. It's not easy. It's not supposed to be, but you do the best you can."

The Orioles know a bit about being that special team. Last season, they grabbed an AL Wild Card berth after a regular season in which they went 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in contests that went beyond nine innings.

But Baltimore comes into Monday having lost 11 of its past 18 games. The Orioles have 27 left to play in the regular season, but it won't have a happy ending if they can't start winning consistently again.

"We still have the opportunity," O's catcher Matt Wieters recently said of making the postseason after last year's run to the AL Division Series. "We're still playing the same teams that are fighting for the playoffs like we are. We know we need to start playing better and we need to win games. There's a little bit of urgency to where we just need to get going. We know we're still in it. It's just a matter of putting together a good run at the end of the year."

Orioles: Norris seeking length
Norris has exited the game before throwing six full innings in each of his previous four starts. Since coming to Baltimore from Houston, he is 3-1 with a 4.91 ERA. The righty has thrown 33 innings as an Oriole. In that span, he has 35 strikeouts and 18 walks, with a .292 opponents' average and 1.70 WHIP.

• After falling behind the Yankees by three runs on Sunday, the Orioles stormed back with seven runs in the seventh inning. Baltimore began the frame with three straight singles, a three-run homer by J.J. Hardy, another single and a walk before New York recorded an out. Adam Jones then hit a three-run home run that gave Baltimore further separation.

Indians: Masterson faring well
Masterson has followed his stellar first half by posting a 4-2 record and 2.89 ERA during eight outings since the All-Star break. The sinkerballer turned in quality starts in six of those appearances, and in 53 total second-half innings, he has 51 strikeouts and 20 walks, with a .216 opponents' average and 1.17 WHIP.

• Mike Aviles broke a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday's game with a game-winning grand slam to left field off Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit. The Indians snapped a seven-game losing streak against Detroit.

Worth noting
• The Orioles hosted Cleveland from June 24-27, with each team winning two tilts in the four-game series.

• In 13 games (nine starts) against Baltimore, Masterson is 6-4 with a 4.71 ERA. Norris has never faced the Indians. Comments