Nolan Reimold’s pinch-hit, two-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth off of Cleveland closer Cody Allen gave Baltimore a series sweep on Sunday as the Orioles defeated the Indians, 5-3.
In a back and forth game and in need of a win to salvage the series and the road trip, Corey Kluber gave his team a quality seven inning start, but it would not be enough in the ninth against Allen, who gave up the parting shot when the inning should have already been over.
Pedro Alvarez led off the inning for the Orioles and swung at four straight pitches from Allen (2-4). After missing the first two and fouling off the third, he cut and missed on a ball in the dirt that went through the legs of Indians catcher Roberto Perez. The ball bounced off of the back wall perfectly and back into the possession of Perez, but his throw to first plunked Alvarez in the head, allowing him to reach safely. With an extra out in tow, Ryan Flaherty moved Alvarez to second on a sacrifice before Caleb Joseph struck out. After two balls to Reimold, he delivered the game-winning drive to the seats in left-center for the win for his third career walk-off winner and the Orioles’ first walk-off homer since 2014.
It was a breakdown of fundamentals by Perez, who had time to shuffle himself to the left or the right to get into a better throwing position, but instead tried to throw through or over Alvarez.
“I don’t think he rushed. He didn’t move his feet,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We talk to him about that all the time. You don’t want somebody to learn a lesson the hard way, and he did.”
It spelled a disappointing end to a road trip that had started well for the Indians (56-41) after series wins in Minnesota and Kansas City. Their struggles against some of the best opponents around the American League continued, a slightly disconcerting sign for a team in position to make the postseason if October baseball were starting today.
The Orioles (57-40) continued their dominance at Oriole Park by improving to 36-14 at home this season. Team streak remained exactly that, as they have now won four consecutive games after losing four straight, following another four-game winning streak.
For the first time this series, the Orioles did not strike through in the first or first in general as the Indians took a two-run lead in the fourth inning off of Baltimore’s Vance Worley. The Indians had stranded runners in scoring position in each of the previous two innings, but found a way to push them across after Jose Ramirez led off the inning with a walk and moved to third on a single by Lonnie Chisenhall. Juan Uribe popped out to first, but Tyler Naquin delivered with an RBI-double to left to score Ramirez with the game’s first run. Perez followed with a sacrifice fly to left to score Chisenhall and move Naquin to third. But as they had done the prior innings (and all series long), the Indians left a valuable base runner stranded as Carlos Santana flied to left to end the inning.
Baltimore bounced back with some big response runs off of Kluber in the bottom half, aided by the replay system.
Jonathan Schoop doubled to lead things off and came around to score on a single by Manny Machado. Chris Davis moved Machado to third with a grounder to first for the first out. Mark Trumbo walked before Alvarez grounded to short and the Indians turned two. The call was challenged by Baltimore’s Buck Showalter and the replay showed that Alvarez barely beat the throw on the backend of the play at first.
What could have been an inning ender with just one run scored instead tied the game at two. Alvarez would move to second on a single by Flaherty but the pair would be stranded on a fly out from Joseph to right.
Schoop gave the Birds their first lead of the day in the fifth when he took Kluber deep with two outs and nobody on.
The 3-2 lead lasted until the eighth, when the Indians got to All-Star reliever Brad Brach for the second time this weekend.
Jason Kipnis led off with a single to left. He reached second safely on an error at second by Schoop on a grounder from Francisco Lindor. Mike Napoli tied the game with a single to left, scoring a hustling Kipnis after some aggressive base coaching at third from Mike Sarbaugh. With runners at first and second and still nobody out, Ramirez flied to left before the dreaded double play ball bit the Tribe again as Chisenhall grounded into a 4-6-3 game-changing twin-killing in what was the Indians’ last real chance to win the ball game.
WORLEY GOES A SEASON-LONG SEVEN
Worley gave the Orioles seven strong innings on the mound, the most innings and pitches (102) of his season. He limited the Indians to five hits and three walks while striking out three in his fourth start of the season. He left in position for his third win of the year until Brach’s blown save.
Worley retired each of the final eleven batters that he faced.
QUALITY KLUBER NOT ENOUGH
It was the usual bout of misfortune for Kluber on the afternoon, as his offense could muster only three runs while he was on the diamond. He left after the Indians tied it in the top half of the eighth, having allowed three runs on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.
NOT GETTING RISPY WITH IT
The Indians’ inability to contribute with runners in scoring position loomed large in the two-run defeat on Sunday. The team was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, with Naquin (1-for-2) and Napoli (1-for-3) delivering the RBI-hits while Chisenhall (0-for-1), Santana (0-for-1), Ramirez (0-for-1), Lindor (0-for-1), and Uribe (0-for-2) did not.
URIBE BACK IN LINEUP
Uribe was back in the starting lineup for the Indians on Sunday, just two days after taking a pitch to the left earflap on Friday night.
He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average to .211 and on-base percentage to .265.
O’DAY ACTIVATED, HART TO AA
Reliever and former All-Star Darren O’Day was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. He had been out since June 1 with a hamstring strain.
He made his presence felt on the mound, pitching a perfect top of the ninth and earning his third win of the season while striking out all three batters he faced. Eleven of his 14 pitches were strikes.
Rookie left-hander Donnie Hart was optioned back to Double-A Bowie. He was called up after the Eastern League All-Star Game and made his Major League debut on July 17.
JIMENEZ PLACED ON PATERNITY LEAVE
Former Indians pitcher and current member of the Orioles pitching staff Ubaldo Jimenez left the team on Saturday to be with his pregnant wife. She has since had the baby, who was not due until later in August.
The walk-off loss by Cleveland was their seventh of the season. It matched the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second-most walk-off defeats by any club this season.
The Texas Rangers lead all of baseball with nine.
HAVEN’T SEEN THAT ONE BEFORE
Machado was, in effect, picked off of first base in the eighth inning with Davis batting, Bryan Shaw on the mound, and one out in the inning. Davis took a pitch outside and fired his bat towards the dugout and begin to jog towards first. Machado started towards second, but catcher Perez fired to Napoli at first, who caught Machado diving back to the bag as he had come to the realization that he had been duped by his own teammate…
The pitch that Davis took was ball three.
A DAY OF REST
Cleveland will take Monday off as they return home to Progressive Field after another long road trip. The team will resume play on Tuesday when the Washington Nationals come to town for a day and a half for a Tuesday night/Wednesday afternoon set.
Right-handers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco will take the mound for the Indians in the series, while the Nationals will send out Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday night and Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday afternoon.
First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET from Progressive Field.
Photo: Matt Hazlett/Getty Images