Austin Jackson had a season-high three hits and matched his season-best with three RBI in leading the Cleveland Indians past the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3, to take the four-game series from Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Thursday night.
It was a shaky start initially from the Indians Mike Clevinger, who was recalled from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game in his first start since a rain-shortened outing in Minnesota last weekend. He survived a rough first two innings to give Cleveland five innings on the night and the bullpen did the rest as the Indians won for the seventh time in their last eight contests.
The Orioles took the lead one batter into the bottom of the first as Seth Smith homered to center off of the Indians right-hander. The damage appeared as though it would continue as Manny Machado worked a walk and Jonathan Schoop singled before a strikeout of Mark Trumbo. A fielder’s choice by Trey Mancini put runners on the corners, but with two outs in the inning, Welington Castillo was sat down looking as Clevinger worked out of the jam.
Cleveland gave Clevinger a lead to work with as they struck through against Baltimore left-hander Wade Miley in the second. Carlos Santana singled to center and after working the count full, Jackson tripled, driving in Santana to tie the game. Yan Gomes followed with a single to right to plate Jackson as the Indians took a 2-1 lead.
The Orioles would fight right back and responded with a run in another long and difficult inning for Clevinger in the home half of the second. Hyun Soo Kim singled and Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch. Clevinger plunked Craig Gentry to load the bases, but Smith grounded into a double play, Clevinger to Gomes to Santana. With two in scoring position, Machado walked and Schoop followed suit, forcing home a run as the Orioles tied the game at two. With the bases still loaded, Clevinger got the seventh man to bat in the inning, Trumbo, to line to left.
The Indians responded again in the third to reclaim the lead for good and did so with two down in the frame. After a strikeout by Francisco Lindor and a fly out by Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez walked and moved to second on a single by Edwin Encarnacion. Santana worked a walk to load the bases and Jackson delivered again, depositing a single into left that scored both Ramirez and Encarnacion to make it a 4-2 score. Gomes fouled out to first to strand a pair, but Clevinger had the lead back and would not surrender it.
The right-hander allowed two to reach in the next half inning on a single by Castillo and a walk of Kim, but Tejada grounded into a double play. A leadoff single in the fourth by Gentry was erased on a caught stealing. Mancini reached on a two-out infield single in inning number five, but Castillo struck out to leave him at first in the final inning of work for Clevinger.
The Indians added another run in the sixth. Jackson singled to start the inning, but Richard Bleier came on from the bullpen and got Gomes to ground into a double play. He would not be so lucky with Erik Gonzalez, however, as the young utility man homered to center to make it a 5-2 game.
Zach McAllister worked a perfect inning in relief of Clevinger in the sixth. Boone Logan struck out the only batter that he faced in the seventh before handing the ball to Nick Goody, who allowed a one-out single to Machado before striking out Schoop and Trumbo swinging. Bryan Shaw worked around a one-out single by Castillo in the eighth before the Indians tacked on an insurance run in the ninth.
With Gabriel Ynoa on the mound for the O’s. Kipnis struck out swinging before Ramirez extended his hitting streak in his final at bat with a triple to the wall in right. Encarnacion sent the next pitch back into center field to give the Indians a 6-2 edge.
Andrew Miller took the mound for the ninth and made a lot of pitches in uncharacteristic fashion. He walked the leadoff man Gentry on seven pitches after getting ahead in the count against him, 0-2. Caleb Joseph struck out swinging before Machado doubled to right, driving in Gentry to make it a 6-3 game. Schoop was cut down swinging and Trumbo did the same as Miller closed the door in a 29-pitch inning.
The Indians improved to 39-32 on the year, moving to a season-high seven games above the .500 mark and moving their advantage in the American League Central Division to two and a half games over second place Minnesota. The Orioles fell to 35-37 in defeat. The six runs allowed by the Orioles pitching staff extended their unpleasant stretch of consecutive games allowing five or more runs to 19 straight, just one short of tying the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies for the longest such streak in Major League Baseball history.
CLEVINGER CONTROLS DAMAGE
Clevinger (3-3, 3.86 ERA) showed some good growth on the mound after overcoming an extremely high pitch count through the first two innings. He would leave after working five full innings, giving up two runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He struggled with the command again, throwing just 56 of his 100 pitches for strikes on the night. He pitched from behind nearly half of his outing, throwing first pitch strikes to just 13 of 24 batters faced.
MILEY MAKES A LOT OF PITCHES
Miley (3-5, 4.48) once again was unable to pitch deep in a ball game for the Orioles, lasting just one batter into the sixth inning. In his five innings of work, he allowed four runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out three.
Command was similarly an issue for Miley, who threw a lot of pitches while facing 24 batters. He was first-pitch strike to just ten of the men that he faced and he needed 111 pitches just to clear them.
RAMIREZ’S STREAK CONTINUES
Ramirez extended his hitting streak to ten games in Thursday’s win, but saw his multi-hit hitting streak come to an end at nine games.
HITTING THEIR STRIDE
The Indians offense has heated up nicely as the club seems to be performing at peak levels. In their last nine games, with eight wins in that stretch, the team has outscored the opposition by a 68-23 mark.
Both teams were missing familiar faces from the field on Thursday due to babies making their real world debuts.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter left the team for the birth of a grandchild. Bench coach John Russell handled the managing duties for the Orioles during the game.
Indians closer Cody Allen was also away from Camden Yards on Thursday for the birth of his child. He was placed on the paternity list to make room for Clevinger’s recall from Triple-A Columbus.
With their road trip complete with a 7-1 record, the Indians will return home in a rematch of last weekend’s matchup with the Minnesota Twins. Seats are already limited for the first two games of the three-game set.
Trevor Bauer (6-5, 5.54) has been tabbed for the start on Friday night. He last pitched on Sunday against the Twins, working seven innings of two-run ball while striking out eight to improve to 3-0 against Minnesota this season in three starts. Minnesota will call upon left-hander Adalberto Mejia (1-3, 5.53). He pitched against the Indians during Saturday’s doubleheader and took the tough loss in a rain-shortened start. He lasted four and two-thirds innings, giving up two runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images