Indians turn to rookie righty for opener of Orioles series

MLB Baseball

Cleveland right-hander Jean Carlos Mejia will make his first career start when the visiting Indians open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

The 24-year-old Mejia (1-0, 0.00 ERA) made his major league debut on May 21. He has had three relief appearances, allowing one hit and one walk over five innings while striking out seven.

Signed as free agent in 2013, Mejia worked as both a starter and a reliever during his time in the minors.

“In a short look he’s certainly competed very, very well. He’s attacked the strike zone with quality pitches and quality stuff,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “Just feeling like J.C. is deserving of the chance and (has) performed to the caliber of work that he deserves an opportunity to see maybe how it plays out as a starter and build him up and maybe insert him in that role.”

Mejia’s longest outing with the Indians was 39 pitches in his debut. Another rookie right-hander, Eli Morgan, recently made his first start and will likely be the first pitcher out of the bullpen on Friday.

Baltimore rookie left-hander Keegan Akin (0-0, 4.80) will make his second start of the season as the Orioles try to win their third straight game for the first time since April 29 to May 1.

Akin, 26, allowed a run on five hits over 4 2/3 innings on May 30 against the Chicago White Sox. He walked two and struck out four. Prior to that, he had made four relief appearances this season.

“I thought Keegan was outstanding,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought he threw the ball great. Had really good life to his fastball, liked the way he attacked hitters for the most part. A couple walks hurt him, hurt his pitch count, but that’s a really good lineup. That’s a playoff-type lineup, and I thought he did a really nice job in his first start.”

After losing 14 straight games, the Orioles are undefeated in June following a 6-3 win against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. The Orioles won a home series for the first time since Sept. 14-16, 2020.

DJ Stewart hit his fourth homer in his past 10 games, and Ryan Mountcastle also went deep. Matt Harvey, pitching on what was essentially his bullpen day, allowed one run on two hits and a walk over three innings. He had lost his previous five starts. Tyler Wells pitched three scoreless innings and earned his first career win.

“We had a big discussion about flipping the page, and we’ve started off June much better than obviously we did ending May,” Harvey said. “There were a lot of games that we should have won where we scored runs and (I), myself, didn’t do a very good job keeping runs off the board when we got an early lead. I think tonight was a big step in the right direction.”

The Indians have won three of four after taking two of three from the White Sox in their rain-shortened series. Thursday began a stretch in which the Indians have three scheduled days off over eight days, but that will be followed by 30 games in 31 days before the All-Star break.

–Field Level Media

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