The Tribe will see a familiar face on the mound in Saturday's matchup with Baltimore.
Ubaldo Jimenez, who pitched in parts of three seasons for Cleveland, will start against his former team for the first time since agreeing to a four-year, $50 million deal with the O's in February. The Indians were content to let the right-hander test the market after he went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA last season.
Jimenez entered this series on something of a hot streak -- that is, until his last outing. In his first three May starts, he had allowed just one run and 13 hits over 19 2/3 innings. On Sunday, however, the Royals scored five runs off Jimenez in five innings, with most of the damage coming on an Alex Gordon three-run homer in the fifth inning.
"It was really just one pitch that I'm sure he would like to take back," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He was trying to go down and away to Gordon, but got it middle-in, the sweet part that you want to stay away from. That was uncharacteristic, but that's the way it happens at this level. There's a fine line."
Jimenez has struggled with his sinker in the past but emphasized that command was not the main issue in his last start.
"I made a lot of good pitches, but they had a good approach," Jimenez said. "They didn't try to do too much. I was throwing a lot of sinkers down, and they found the holes."
In a season plagued by inconsistent starting pitching, Corey Kluber has been perhaps the Tribe's most reliable arm. The right-hander, who takes the mound opposite Jimenez, enters Saturday at 4-3 with a 3.43 ERA through 10 games.
Kluber has been at his best in May. He owns a 2.51 ERA in his four starts this month, with 39 strikeouts and just five walks in those games. He turned in a seven-inning, three-run performance against the Tigers on Monday, allowing only a Victor Martinez solo home run and a two-run double by Rajai Davis.
"I thought he was good. The couple mistakes he made he paid for. Threw a fastball to Victor," Indians manager Terry Francona said after the game. "And then he didn't get the breaking ball away far enough to Davis. You got to pitch in and we probably have to pitch in more. But he showed when you do pitch in, not let them get their arms extended, you get around them."
Last June, the O's tagged Kluber for 11 hits and seven runs (six earned) over 4 2/3 innings in his only career start against Baltimore.
Indians: Axford still struggling
After losing his job as Cleveland's closer on May 10, John Axford has shown few signs of improvement in recent days.
Though Axford has allowed just one earned run in his last six outings, lowering his ERA from 4.91 to 4.19, the righty continues to struggle with location. He has issued four free passes since May 15 and his 17 walks are the most of any Indians reliever this season.
"I don't want to rate him after every outing because I don't think that's fair," Francona said. "I think every outing is a little bit different. I think when Ax gets to a point where he's really pounding the zone I think he'll see a big difference and he'll have a lot cleaner innings."
Orioles: Machado hoping to avoid DL
O's third baseman Manny Machado was not in Friday's starting lineup against the Indians after exiting Thursday night's game with right groin stiffness. He is considered day to day and expected to avoid a stay on the disabled list.
Machado did not take on-field batting practice on Friday but said he felt a lot better, giving the 21-year-old hope that he can return to the lineup for Saturday's game.
"I can't give you an official answer, but we'll see. We'll know more tomorrow," Machado said. "Today, we're just going to keep treating it and hopefully it gets better tomorrow and hopefully I can be there. But right now, we're just taking it day by day and we'll see how it feels."
Machado is batting .229 for Baltimore this season and went 7-for-31 against the Indians last year.
• Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was not in the lineup on Friday night due to a lingering foot injury. He also banged up his knee during the 13th inning of Wednesday's win over Detroit. The team does not expect he'll land on the disabled list.
• Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has reached base safely in his last 17 games following a three-hit night against Cleveland on Friday. He is batting .365 with five homers during that stretch.
• Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (oblique) made his first rehab start with the Columbus Clippers on Friday, going 0-for-2 with an RBI groundout. He is aiming to rejoin the team for Monday's series opener at the White Sox. "Depending on how he feels," Francona said, "I think that's realistic."
• In the fourth inning of Friday night's game, Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi hit his first home run of the season off an 0-1 pitch from O's starter Bud Norris. The 43-year-old lefty has a homer in every season since 1995.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.