In the opener of a critical three-game set, the Orioles pulled further ahead of the Indians for third place in the American League Wild Card standings. With a few more wins, Baltimore could put Cleveland in an even more difficult position -- and possibly catch up to second-place Tampa Bay.
The Indians will enter Tuesday trailing the Rays by at least four games in the standings, depending on Tampa Bay's game in Anaheim on Monday night. If things break their way, the Orioles could wake up Tuesday within two games of the second Wild Card spot.
That narrowing margin makes each game even more important, starting with Tuesday's matchup at Progressive Field between right-handers Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez.
"We've played ourselves positively and negatively into a position where every game means so much," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I can think of a lot worse scenarios. I can think of a few better, but I can think of a lot worse. The fact that it's September, and every time we go out there it's so meaningful, that's good."
Jimenez is coming off a 1-4 August in which he posted a 3.10 ERA, a fitting representation of the Indians' recent lack of offense and the excellent pitching that's kept them alive in the postseason chase. Jimenez has allowed more than three earned runs only one time since June 1, recording a 3.01 ERA during that stretch.
He'll get a tough September test in the Orioles, whom he'll face for just the second time in his career after beating them on June 24 at Camden Yards.
"One through nine, there's a lot of power. I think they're a little more athletic than people maybe give them credit for," Francona said. "Really, the only difference is last year they had that amazing stat of how many games they won [late]. This year, I think they've won half that. That's the difference in their record.
"They're a very a good lineup. They have speed. They're good. And they're about in a similar position as us. I think they're a half-game [now 1 1/2 games] ahead of us. So, for both teams, these are obviously huge games."
The Orioles will send their ace to the mound, as Tillman is seeking his 16th win. On Thursday, Tillman became the first Oriole since 2006 to record a 15-win season, beating the Red Sox with seven innings of two-run ball.
With one more win, Tillman would become the Orioles' first 16-game winner since 1999, when Mike Mussina won 18.
Orioles: Four more callups coming
• The Orioles recalled lefty Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday to provide depth out of the bullpen, and they'll add four more players before Tuesday's game. Baltimore is set to call up outfielder Henry Urrutia, infielders Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop and pitcher Josh Stinson. Flaherty will be recalled from Class A Frederick, with the other three coming from Norfolk, whose season ended Monday.
Baltimore is also sending a few reserves to its complex in Sarasota, Fla., to work out in case they're needed down the stretch. That group will include lefty starter Tsuyoshi Wada and outfielders Chris Dickerson and Jason Pridie.
• Manager Buck Showalter said he hasn't ruled out using rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman as a starter this month. Gausman threw two scoreless innings as a reliever Sunday and has thrown 118 1/3 innings this season between the Majors and Minors.
Indians: Raburn hoping for Tuesday return
• Utility man Ryan Raburn has been on the 15-day disabled list retroactively since Aug. 19, but he may find himself back on Cleveland's active roster on Tuesday. Raburn hit during starter Corey Kluber's simulated game Monday and felt some soreness, but not enough to hinder his swing.
Raburn, who's been out with right calf discomfort and a left Achilles strain, hit .272/.366/.574 with 15 homers and 41 RBIs before the injury.
"There's not really a reason not to bring him off the disabled list," Francona said. "Whether he gets in a game or not, we have extra bodies. If he can hit, we can pinch-run. I would anticipate that, yeah, [Tuesday would] probably be the case."
• Right-hander Josh Tomlin should also be added to the Indians' roster Tuesday. Tomlin, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2012, went 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 10 Minor League appearances this year. Francona said the club is still deciding "how and when" to use Tomlin upon his return.
• The Orioles have won four of their last five games at Progressive Field since being swept there in 2011.
• A loss Tuesday or Wednesday would give the Indians three straight series losses and eight overall since the All-Star break.