A three-run first inning against Indians starter Trevor Bauer gave Baltimore an early lead and a three-run seventh off of reliever Zach McAllister broke up a 3-3 tie late, as Cleveland fell short on a Friday fireworks and dollar dog night to the Orioles in a 6-4 loss.
The first four Baltimore batters would reach base against Bauer, who struggled with some early location. Adam Jones singled to start things off and Hyun Soo Kim was hit by a pitch on his back foot. Manny Machado started his big day with a first pitch single to center to drive in Jones and give the Orioles a lead after just three batters. Chris Davis worked a walk to load the bases, but Bauer buckled down and got a pair of big strikeouts, sitting down Mark Trumbo and Nolan Reimold swinging. Just an out away from escaping the jam, Bauer gave up a single to Jonathan Schoop to drive home two before a line out by the eighth man to bat, Ryan Flaherty.
Bauer would work out of a bit of a predicament in the second as a Jones one-out single and a two-out single from Machado put two in scoring position with two outs, but the Tribe starter struck Davis out looking. His offense then got to work in the bottom half, as Jose Ramirez doubled to left-center off of O’s starter Mike Wright and scored on a double from Juan Uribe.
Mike Napoli cut the deficit down to one run in the bottom of the fourth inning to lead off the frame. His monster 420+ foot shot more than half way up the bleachers made it 3-2.
“Just trying to get back to basics,” said Napoli about his blast. “Shorten it up a little bit. Getting deep into counts, seeing a lot of pitches, and not missing a pitch when I get it.”
Bauer continued to minimize Baltimore opportunities, allowing the Indians to even the score in the fifth and chase the Orioles starter from the ball game. Chris Gimenez walked and moved to second on an infield single by Rajai Davis. Carlos Santana walked on five pitches to load the bases and after a strikeout from Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor drove home Gimenez with a sacrifice fly to right. Dylan Bundy took over for Wright and got Napoli to pop up in the infield to end the rally.
Manager Terry Francona replaced Bauer in the seventh with McAllister and things turned bad after the Indians reliever struck out Kim to start the inning. Machado doubled to left-center and Davis doubled to the gap in right-center to give the O’s the lead. One pitch later, Trumbo went the opposite way to right with his 15th homer of the season, giving Baltimore a 6-3 lead that would be too much to overcome.
“We fought back to get it tied, feel a heck of a lot better about the game,” said Francona. “When Zach came in, he just left balls middle-out. Can’t let those big strong guys get extended like that.
“The guys he faced, Trumbo was 1-for-7. There were some guys he’s gotten out. Now, they’re pretty good hitters. Sometimes, velocity like Zach’s, if you pitch in, it’ll open the plate up.”
Cleveland squandered a huge opportunity in the eighth to tie up or even take the lead in the ball game against former All-Star reliever Darren O’Day. Lindor led off the inning with a laser to right to make it 6-4. Napoli walked and moved to third on a double to right by Ramirez. Uribe struck out swinging before Lonnie Chisenhall was intentionally walked to load the bases. The risky move paid off for Orioles manager Buck Showalter, as Gimenez grounded sharply to second baseman Schoop, who started a 4-6-3 rally-killing double play to end the inning and, effectively, the game.
Closer Chris Britton sat the Indians down in order on eight pitches in the ninth for his 13th save of the season.
Bundy (1-1) got the win in relief of Wright, giving the former fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft his first MLB victory. McAllister (2-2) was dealt the loss after allowing the three runs in the seventh.
The loss by the Indians (25-21) wrapped up a three-game winning streak by Cleveland. The Orioles (27-19) ended their four-game losing streak with the win.
“It was just one of those nights,” said Napoli. “We kept fighting, had opportunities, but fell short. We’re going to get back out here tomorrow afternoon and get after it again.”
A SURPRISE QUALITY OUTING FROM BAUER
Bauer, after a high pitch count in a difficult first inning, really settled down and prevented further damage from the Orioles on the night. He gave the Indians six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with a pair of walks, one hit batter, and four strikeouts. He threw 65 of 103 pitches for strikes, including 17 of 28 first pitch strikes in the ball game.
“We got in a hole, but we’ve seen him do that before where he’ll give up some runs early but then you look up and he’s still out there pitching,” said Francona. “First inning, they had a hit batsman, a walk, and some hits mixed in. I thought they had some hits that weren’t hit hard and I thought they had some outs that were hit hard. It usually evens out.”
“It was nice to see, especially struggling after that first inning to come back, give us six innings, and give us a chance to come back,” said Napoli about the night’s starter Bauer. “That’s what you need out of a starter that doesn’t have it that day, he finds a way.”
WRIGHT A NO-DECISION
Wright exited after four and two-third innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
CUTTING DOWN THE K’s
After striking out 52 times in their three-game series in Houston, the Orioles struck out just six times against Indians pitching in the opener.
FOUR RUNS NOT ENOUGH FOR CLEVELAND
The late home run from Lindor provided the Indians with their fourth run of the night, usually indicative of good things for the Tribe. The club entered the game with a 22-3 record in 2016 when scoring four runs or more, but Friday night was not in the cards for Cleveland.
The underrated Machado feasted on Indians pitching throughout the night. The O’s shortstop was 4-for-5 with two singles, two doubles, and an RBI.
LEADOFF SEEMS TO WORK FOR JONES
Jones got the start in the leadoff spot for Showalter on Friday night, hoping to get him more at bats and a different look. It paid off, as he went 3-for-5 with three singles and a run scored.
He entered the game in an 0-for-10 skid at the plate and was 0-for-6 in his career against Bauer previously. Two of his three hits came off of the Indians starter tonight.
J-RAM, BOOM-BOOM, SUPER UTILITY GUY, ETC.
The man of an increasing amount of nicknames, Ramirez had himself a career kind of night for Cleveland. He was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a run scored, two singles, and two doubles. The only blemish on his stat sheet might have been his caught stealing.
“He’s just a good hitter. He had a little spell there last week where he wasn’t swinging it great,” said Francona, “but he bounced right back. He’s been really valuable for us. We play him all over. We’ve hit him all over. Especially with Brant out, he’s been really big for us because he’s done a lot of things offensively.”
“It’s awesome, he’s a good kid,” said Napoli. “Ever since I got over here, we kind of mess around with each other. We have fun. I like to encourage people to get the best out of him. He’s swinging the bat really well. He can swing it now, it’s nice. He comes up and has protection from me and I’m definitely confident going when he’s hitting behind me.”
COOKIE READY FOR DELIVERY
Carlos Carrasco will make his first rehab start for Double-A Akron on Saturday in his return from a left hamstring strain.
Former friend of the feather, Ubaldo Jimenez (2-5, 6.04 ERA) will make his return to Progressive Field on Saturday afternoon for the Orioles. His former teammate, Danny Salazar (4-3, 2.32), will take the rubber first.
First pitch on Saturday afternoon is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images