**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the struggling Orioles begin the second half by welcoming the upstart Cleveland Indians to town for a four-game set**
BALTIMORE — Following the Orioles’ beanball series in Beantown prior to the All-Star break, suspensions were handed down prior to the start of tonight’s series against the Cleveland Indians to begin the second half.
Closer Kevin Gregg and setup man Michael Gonzalez received four and three-game suspensions respectively while manager Buck Showalter will serve a one-game suspension tonight as the Orioles (36-52) begin the second half with bench coach John Russell serving as manager. Both pitchers are appealing their suspensions and are available to the club tonight.
“I played the game. I pitched inside and got him out and then I defended myself when [David Ortiz] came across out to the mound,” Gregg said about the altercation. “Words are exchanged. People say I was yelling at him; well, he was yelling at me. It happens a lot in this game. To think anything of exchanging words with a player is ludicrous.”
The Red Sox designated hitter was also suspended four games after charging the mound against Gregg last Friday night. Orioles relief pitcher Jim Johnson, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia were also fined, but will not face suspensions.
With the four-game sweep in Boston and the first half history, the struggling Orioles hope to reverse an abysmal stretch of baseball in which they have lost seven straight and 12 of 13 games prior to the three-day rest. Jeremy Guthrie, who ironically earned the loss in Baltimore’s last game after pitching in relief, returns to the hill to face talented Indians pitcher Justin Masterson. Guthrie hopes to avoid a league-leading 13th loss and get the Orioles back on track.
Vladimir Guerrero is out of tonight’s lineup as he continues to nurse a sore wrist suffered after being hit by a pitch in Sunday’s finale in Boston. The veteran told Showalter he “needs one more day” to rest before returning to the lineup. All-Star catcher Matt Wieters will hit cleanup and serve as the designated hitter after traveling across county for Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Outfielder Luke Scott appears closer to returning from the 15-day disabled list and told reporters he will receive a cortisone injection in his injured right shoulder on Friday. After a few days to respond to that, he will likely go on a brief rehab assignment. Scott hasn’t swung a bat or lifted any weights since being placed on the disabled list in order to rest the shoulder.
Showalter also set his rotation through the weekend with Jake Arrieta starting Friday, Alfredo Simon on Saturday, and Mitch Atkins taking the hill on Sunday. The Orioles manager has not decided on a starter for Monday’s opener against the Boston Red Sox.
You can listen to Showalter’s pregame comments and Gregg’s reaction to the suspension in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
LF Michael Bradley
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
DH Travis Hafner
C Carlos Santana
CF Grady Sizemore
2B Orlando Cabrera
RF Travis Buck
1B Matt LaPorta
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
SP Justin Masterson (7-6, 2.64 ERA)
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
DH Matt Wieters
1B Derrek Lee
LF Felix Pie
3B Mark Reynolds
2B Blake Davis
C Craig Tatum
SP Jeremy Guthrie (3-12, 4.18 ERA)
As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!