The Cleveland Indians should see if they can get credit for two wins on Thursday night.
The Tribe defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 8-7 in 13 innings—winning their second straight extra inning affair—but they worked much harder than they necessarily needed to. Defensive miscues and a poorly played fly ball kept the Orioles in the game.
What could have been an easy victory for Cleveland, instead forced Tribe starter Justin Masterson to work harder than necessary and the bullpen behind him. Masterson pitched on three days rest after Wednesday’s extra inning contest. Tonight, the bullpen pitched another seven and one-third innings of relief, allowing just one earned run. The bullpen likely remains over-worked and in need or rest, but Cleveland tied their season high, four game winning streak.
The Indians seemed to pick up in Baltimore where they had left off in Progressive Field, scoring early and taking an early lead. In the second inning, Ryan Raburn hit his first home run of the season. Raburn’s solo shot of Orioles left-hander Wei-Yi Chen put the Tribe up 1-0. Just an inning later, the Tribe plated two more runs when Michael Brantley tripled home Mike Aviles, then Brantley trotted home on Chen’s wild pitch. The Indians had a 3-0 lead after three innings and things were looking good.
Meanwhile Masterson gave the Indians a solid effort on just three days rest. The Indians ace used the double play ball in the first two innings to erase Orioles’ base runners. In the third inning Masterson worked around Ryan Flaherty’s one-out double and in the fifth inning induced another double play after hitting back-to-back hitters. While Masterson did not have his best stuff, it was good enough to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard.
But in the sixth inning, the wheels fell off on Masterson’s evening, aided by Tribe miscues. With one out, Adam Jones hit a fly ball to right center field that Michael Bourn or David Murphy could have caught, however, it dropped between them and was ruled a double. Chris Davis struck out—for what should have been the third—out, then Jones advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Nelson Cruz walked before Steve Clevenger and J.J. Hardy hit back-to-back run scoring singles. Flaherty then dropped the crushing blow, a three-run home run to right field, giving Baltimore a 5-3 lead.
Masterson pitched five and two-third, tough innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, three walks while striking out two on 96 pitches. While the runs were charged as earned runs, had Murphy or Bourn made the catch on Jones’ fly ball, none of the runs would have happened. New Indian, Mark Lowe, finished the sixth inning.
Cleveland charged right back in the seventh inning, earning their runs to compensate for the ones they gave away. Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana each singled with one out. Santana’s hit bounced off Flaherty’s glove and allowed Gomes to advance to third base. Murphy grounded out to second base, advancing Santana to second and scoring Gomes. Mike Aviles followed with a single to left to plate Santana and even the score at five apiece.
That ended Chen’s evening, pitching six and two-third innings, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out one. Brian Matusz finished the sixth inning for Baltimore, keeping the score deadlocked.
But the Indians defense continued to gift-wrap runs for Baltimore in the bottom of the seventh. With Lowe still on the mound, the left side of the infield gave him little support. With one out in the inning, Asdrubal Cabrera misplayed Manny Machado’s routine grounder. Jones followed with a grounder to Santana that had potential to be a double play, but he threw the ball into right field. Instead of erasing a pair of base runners, they each advanced to scoring position. Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Baltimore retook the lead 6-5 on an unearned run. Marc Rzepczynski relieved Lowe for the final out of the seventh.
Matusz recorded the first out in the top of the eighth before giving way to Darren O’Day. The right-handed reliever is tough on right-handed hitters, forcing Indians manager Terry Francona to pinch-hit for Raburn with Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall responded with his second home run of the season. The solo shot tied the game, again, 6-6.
After Rzepczynski recorded the first out in the eighth and an infield hit to Hardy, Cody Allen came on in relief. Allen earned the final two outs of the eighth, then a scoreless ninth inning to send the game to extra innings. Jones singled off Allen with one out and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, but Allen struck out Chris Davis and Steve Clevenger to keep the game deadlocked.
John Axford pitched a scoreless 10th inning for Cleveland and former Tribesman, Preston Guilmet did the same for Baltimore in the 10th and 11th. Josh Outman (4-0) pitched both the 11th and 12th for Cleveland as the Tribe’s beleaguered bullpen was taxed again this evening.
But Cleveland finally took the lead for good in the top of the 13th inning. After Guilmet got the first out of the frame, Troy Patton (0-1) came on for Baltimore. The left-handed reliever gave up singles to Brantley and Chisenhall, then walked Nick Swisher to load the bases. Santana laced a two-out double down the left field line to give the Indians an 8-6 lead.
Scott Atchison came on to pitch the bottom of the 13th and earn his first save of the season. Nick Markakis hit a solo home run in the inning, but Baltimore could not get any closer. Atchison, who pitched two innings in Wednesday’s game against Detroit, logged his first save since 2011 with Boston.
While Cleveland tries to get their bullpen rested, they may have to play without their shortstop for a couple days. Cabrera was replaced by Justin Sellers in the ninth inning with soreness in his leg. He was injured Wednesday afternoon against Detroit. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Friday, the Indians will use spot starter, left-hander T.J. House (0-0, 0.00) in his first big league start. House pitched an inning of relief last Saturday evening. Baltimore will counter with right-hander, Bud Norris (2-4, 3.58).
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