Cobb and O’s Blasts Spoil Cleveland’s Thome Day; Orioles 4, Indians 2

The Indians celebrated the career of Jim Thome on Saturday afternoon in front of the eighth sellout crowd of the season at Progressive Field, but the visiting Orioles opted to play the spoiler as a pair of home runs provided all four Baltimore runs and starter Alex Cobb handled the rest in a complete game effort in a 4-2 win over Cleveland.

Thome was the man of the hour pregame as the Indians honored his Hall of Fame induction last month with a pregame ceremony at the center of the diamond led by emcee Tom Hamilton. A host of former Tribe teammates of the slugger were present to recognize his career, and Thome was treated to several gifts, including a pair of seats bearing his old jersey numbers with the Indians and a large photo mosaic in the shape of the number 25. To cap the festivities, the Indians unveiled Thome’s retired jersey number among the names and numbers of other retired Cleveland legends in the upper deck in right field.

After all the pomp and circumstance, the Orioles had the rest of the fun on the day while ending the Indians’ six-game winning streak behind nine strong innings from the right-hander Cobb, who shined behind a five-hit complete game with minimal resistance from the Tribe bats throughout the afternoon.

Villar – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Baltimore nabbed a third inning lead off of Adam Plutko, making his return to the starting rotation for the injured Trevor Bauer after being recalled early in the day from Triple-A Columbus. Plutko had allowed a double through two uneventful innings, but in the third, three straight reached with one out to give the Orioles the lead. Austin Wynns walked on four straight and rookie Cedric Mullins dropped the next pitch down for a perfectly placed bunt to first. Jonathan Villar worked the count full before driving the sixth pitch of his at bat into the seats in right to put Baltimore on top, 3-0.

Cobb was brilliant as he continued a strong month of August. He retired the first nine Indians in order through the first three innings before Francisco Lindor found first base safely on an infield single to start the fourth. He was erased on a double play grounder to end the inning.

Plutko settled in perfectly after the three-run outburst in the third, retiring the final two that frame and 12 more in a row over the next four innings while keeping Baltimore’s run tally at three.

Cobb set down the Tribe in order again in the fifth, but the Indians finally figured him out, for a moment at least, in the sixth. Three straight one-out singles from Yan Gomes, Greg Allen, and Lindor, put the Indians on the scoreboard with runners on the corners. Michael Brantley cut the deficit to one run with a sacrifice fly to center, making it a 3-2 game. With Jose Ramirez in the box, Lindor drew several throws to first base before breaking for second on Cobb’s first offering to Ramirez. Wynns’ throw was slightly off line, but Tim Beckham made a great swipe to nab Lindor on the caught stealing to end the inning.

The Indians threatened against Cobb again the following inning. Ramirez walked to lead things off and moved to third on a one-out single by Yonder Alonso. With the tying run at third, Melky Cabrera grounded into a costly 4-6-3 double play in what was the final real threat for the Tribe.

Plutko was finished after seven, but reliever Neil Ramirez coughed up an insurance run in the one-run game in the eighth as the rookie Mullins lifted his first big league homer over the wall in right to give Baltimore a 4-2 lead.

Cobb set down the side in order in the final two innings to secure his fourth win of the year.

The Indians’ (70-52) six-game winning streak came to an end with the tough loss to the Orioles (37-86), who earned their second win of the season against Cleveland.

Cobb needed just 100 pitches (69 strikes) to record 27 Indians outs and his first complete game since August 31, 2013. It was actually his first nine-inning complete game effort since August 23, 2012 and the fourth complete game of his career. The month of August has been good to Cobb, who improved to 2-3 with a 2.03 ERA since the All-Star break. Prior, he was just 2-12 with a 6.41 ERA.

“He really took the sting out of our bats,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “He’s not overpowering and he’s around the plate with everything. We got a little impatient as we got into the middle innings. That’s when he’s going to be successful.”

His final line included two runs allowed on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

Plutko was unhittable after the homer to Villar. Making his first start for the Indians in a month and a half, he worked seven quality innings, charged with three runs allowed on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts. The loss dropped his record to 4-3 on the year.

“You say seven innings, four or five total base runners, overall you’re going to take that most games,” said Plutko. “He hit that three-run homer and that was the difference maker. Credit to him for doing so.”

Mullins’ Homer – Jason Miller/Getty Images

“He was pitching behind and kind of paid for it,” said Francona. “Then he really reeled it in and pitched like he can pitch. Pitched ahead. Really pitched well. So that was good to see.”

The top of the Orioles lineup did the bulk of the damage on Saturday. Mullins and Villar combined to go 3-for-7 with a walk, three runs scored, and four runs batted in. The rest of the lineup went 2-for-25, with both remaining hits by the lineup coming from Renato Nunez.

The rubber match of the three-game series from downtown Cleveland is scheduled for a 1:10 PM ET first pitch on Sunday.

Mike Clevinger (8-7, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound looking to put up back-to-back wins for the first time in a while. He got the better of the Orioles earlier this season, throwing his first career complete game shutout, allowing two hits and two walks with three strikeouts to improve to 3-0 against the Orioles in four games with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

The Orioles will call upon 24-year-old right-hander Yefry Ramirez (1-4, 5.40) to make his tenth appearance and ninth start of the season. It will be the rookie’s first career game against Cleveland.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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