On Wednesday night, the rain and the Orioles both tried their best to hold off Scott Kazmir and the Cleveland Indians but they were not good enough, as the Tribe was able to win 4-3. Kazmir pitched his best performance as an Indians, throwing a perfect game through four innings and a no-hitter through six innings.
He ended the game with just one hit, one walk and only one earned run on his seven innings pitched. The Indians had key at bats from Jason Kipnis, a two run homerun, and Jason Giambi, a double in the ninth inning putting men on second and third down by a run.
After a one-hour and six-minute rain delay, the game started with an absolutely dominant start from both pitchers, Jason Hammel and Kazmir. Hammel started off with two easy groundouts before getting Kipnis to fly out to deep left field. Kazmir was able to go through the first inning on 12 pitches, getting two fly ball outs before striking out Adam Jones, getting him to swing on a pitch out of the zone.
The second inning was more of the same for both pitchers. The Tribe went down one-two-three to start the inning, including a deep fly ball out caught at the warning track to get Nick Swisher for the first out. Kazmir was able to get three ground ball outs to end the inning, after J.J. Hardy fouled off three straight full count pitches before grounding out to second base for an easy third out.
For the third inning in a row, both teams went down in order. The Indians got in trouble early, being down 0-1 in all three at bats, before getting two ground outs and one fly ball out to end the inning. Kazmir kept dominating the Orioles in the third inning, getting three ground ball outs on just seven pitches.
The Indians were finally able to break through and get on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. After Michael Bourn grounded out to second base, Asdrubal Cabrera was able to be the first batter for either team to reach safely by getting a hit by pitch. It was a questionable call, as replay showed the ball might have missed Cabrera, but the Tribe took advantage of the free runner right away. Jason Kipnis was the next Indians batter and took a 3-2 pitch to deep left field for a home run, his second opposite field home run in two nights, putting the Indians up 2-0.
Kazmir kept up his great outing in the fourth inning, getting the tenth, eleventh and twelfth Baltimore batters of the night. He got the leadoff man to strike out before getting a very generous break at first base. Manny Machado hit a ball that looked like it might make it through the gap between Nick Swisher and Kipnis before Swisher was able to get over and throw the ball the Kazmir covering first. It looked clear to the naked eye that Machado was safe at first and replay seemed to show that as well, but the umpire called that Kazmir beat him to the bag and gave the Indians a nice break for out number two in the inning. Kazmir got out number three on the next pitch for a ground ball out right back up the middle.
The Tribe had a great chance to extend the lead in the fifth inning but were unable to capitalize. The inning started with Jason Giambi working an eight-pitch walk, followed up a Gomes double play. The Indians were able however to get back to back two out hits, singles from Chisenhall and Stubbs, setting the stage for Bourn before he grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Baltimore were held in check again in the fifth inning, despite getting their first base runner of the game, a one out walk which they stranded at first base, breaking out Kazmir’s attempt at a perfect game.
The sixth inning was another great inning for the starting pitchers, as both teams went down in order again. The Indians went down on two strike outs and a ground out while the Orioles had a fly out, ground out and a beautiful strike out from Kazmir, getting Machado swinging at a great off speed pitch, keeping his no hitter alive through 6 innings.
The Indians again had a chance to blow this game open in the seventh inning but again let the chance slip away. After a Brantley fly ball out to deep right field, the Tribe was able to get back-to-back base runners, Giambi hitting a single and Gomes drawing a walk. With men on first and second base with one out, Chisenhall grounded to the first baseman, moving both runners into scoring position. Despite the great chance to score, Drew Stubbs struck out looking to end the inning.
On the ninetieth batter of the night, Kazmir finally gave up his first hit, a leadoff double to Machdo. After a throwing error on Kazmir trying to pick off Machado at second base moved him to second, a questionable call as it was a ball that Cabrera dropped, Chris Davis hit a deep sac fly, driving Machado home, making it a 2-1 game.
The eighth inning saw Brian Matusz come in for Jason Hammel. He came in and gave the Indians another chance they failed to score on. After Cabrera had a one out single, Kipnis drew a six-pitch walk, putting runners on first and second with only one out. Just like the last two chances however, the Tribe failed to score, with Swisher hitting into a double play ending the inning.
Baltimore was able to finally open this game up in the eighth inning after Kazmir left the game in an odd situation. He looked as though he would pitch the eighth inning as he warmed up on the mound but left after Francona came out to talk to him with the Trainer and he left the game. The strange part was that he still stayed in the dugout to watch the game despite leaving as injured. He left with a stat line of only one walk, one hit and just one earned run on seven innings pitched.
Joe Smith came in the game and gave up a leadoff single to Hardy on a play that should have been made at first base, as Chisenhall threw a low ball to Swisher who couldn’t hold on for the out. After getting the next batter to pop up to the infield, Smith walks Chris Dickerson then followed by a single to Alexi Casilla to load the base. The next batter, Markais, grounded into a fielders choice to second base on a ball just hit soft enough to not be doubled up, tying the game up 2-2. The Orioles were able to take the lead the next at bat, a Machado single driving in Dickerson, making it a 3-2 game before getting Jones to pop up.
Despite losing the lead in the eighth inning, the Indians were able to remained focused and take the lead back in the ninth inning. After Brantley drew a four-pitch walk, Giambi hit a deep double just off the wall above the outfielder’s glove, putting men on second and third base with no outs. After Santana was intentionally walked to load the bases, Chisenhall was able to come in and ground the ball into a fielders choice, driving home Brantley and moving Aviles to third and Santana to second, tying the game 3-3. The next batter was Stubbs, who was able to use his great speed to give the Tribe the speed. On a 2-2 pitch, Stubbs hit a ball to the third baseman for a fielders choice, driving home Aviles, sprinting out of the batters box and just barely beating the throw to first for the double play to give the Indians a 4-3 lead. The inning ended on a Bourn strikeout but the damage was already done as the Tribe had taken the lead back.
Vinnie Pestano came in for the ninth inning, going against the three biggest bats of the Orioles lineup, Davis, Wieters and Hardy. Pestano was able to get Davis swinging for the first out of the inning, got Wieters to hit a hard hit ball to Kipnis in the drifting to the right, and Hardy striking out swinging to earn his fifth save of the year and give the Tribe a 4-3 win.
Joe Smith(4-0 2.22ERA) earned the win tonight, despite all the credit in the world going to Kazmir, with Pestano(5 Saves 4.13ERA) getting a save and Jim Johnson (2-6 4.03ERA) getting the loss.
The Indians will attempt to win this series tomorrow night at Camden Yards with Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.68 ERA) taking the mound for the Indians with Miguel Gonzalez( 5-3, 3.75 ERA) pitching for the Orioles.
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images