O's eye chance to improve vs. Tribe

O's eye chance to bloom vs. Tribe

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Orioles can smell the home stretch. Baltimore completed a difficult road trip against three postseason contenders Wednesday night and will head home for the final series of August on Thursday. The Orioles will welcome fellow rebuilding team Cleveland for a four-game series and will hope to continue some modest momentum.

The Orioles may have gone 4-5 on their trip through Tampa Bay, Chicago and Minnesota, but they outscored their opponents and lost three games by a one-run margin. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley can sense his team beginning to break out of its post-break doldrums but would like to see more of the same at home.

"We played competitive baseball," said Trembley. "The first game in here was a baseball game. A hit here or a hit there, we would have won the game. Last night, we didn't take advantage of the opportunities that we had. We didn't give it to them. We just didn't take it. The three games in Chicago were baseball games for me.

"And we won in Tampa, but the other one we could have won. We're doing it with a nucleus of very young players. We're playing better. We're playing competitive and we're playing hard, so that's good."

And to continue playing competitive ball, they'll need contributions from their youth-filled starting rotation. Baltimore will throw four rookies against the Indians, starting with David Hernandez and winding through Jason Berken, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz. Fittingly, that sets Jeremy Guthrie up to start the series opener against New York.

Hernandez has been hit hard in his recent outings, but he'll have to hope for a return to form at Camden Yards. The right-hander has a 2-3 record and a 4.23 ERA at home, but he's pitched into the sixth inning in four of his five starts. And in Cleveland, he'll be facing a team with a lukewarm offense and an even shakier pitching staff.

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP David Hernandez (4-6, 4.35 ERA)
Hernandez pitched four innings and allowed three earned runs in his last outing, but he ran his pitch count up way too high to come back out for the fifth. Hernandez, one of four rookie starters on Baltimore's staff, has been knocked out before -- completing five innings in three of his past five starts.

CLE: LHP Aaron Laffey (7-3, 3.42 ERA)
Laffey had a rough first inning against the Mariners on Saturday, but he recovered to post a quality start in a no-decision. In seven innings, Laffey allowed three runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts. All three runs came in the first. Over his past four starts, Laffey has allowed just six earned runs over 27 innings.

Bird bites
The Orioles closed out their history at the Metrodome with a victory and finished with a 64-73 all-time record there. Baltimore managed to hit 159 home runs in 137 games at that park. ... The Orioles are 21-44 on the road this season, the worst mark in the American League. Fifteen of their past 26 losses have come by two runs or less. ... Felix Pie continued his second-half resurgence with a home run Wednesday and is batting .310 (35-for-113) with 12 extra-base hits and 23 runs scored in his past 48 games. ... Michael Aubrey, who was drafted and developed by the Indians, has batted safely in each of his past six games and is hitting .375 (6-for-16) over that span. ... Nolan Reimold has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games and has reached safely in 71 of his 87 games this season.

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Up next
• Friday: Orioles (Jason Berken, 3-11, 6.49) vs. Indians (Fausto Carmona, 3-8, 5.92), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Orioles (Chris Tillman, 1-2, 4.58) vs. Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 5-9, 4.93), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Orioles (Brian Matusz, 2-2, 6.46) vs. Indians (TBD), 1:35 p.m. ET

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.