The Indians made it three in a row this week over the Orioles on Wednesday night, using a five-run third inning and several key insurance runs late to hold off Baltimore by an 8-7 decision from downtown Cleveland.
The Tribe bats came to the rescue of starter Aaron Civale, who was hit hard early in one of his worst starts in an otherwise strong first few months of the season. While the five-run frame put the club on top, it was two later insurance runs on a big three-base hit in the sixth that proved to be the deciding runs in the tight contest.
Making his first start since striking out eleven and allowing just one hit over eight innings in a 7-0 win over Seattle on Friday, Civale gave up hits to each of the first four batters as Baltimore took an early lead. Cedric Mullins doubled and moved to third on a single to left by Trey Mancini. Freddy Galvis plated the game’s first run with a single to right and Ryan Mountcastle made it a 2-0 game with a single to center. Civale figured it out from there, getting D.J. Stewart to foul out before Austin Hays grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Cleveland got a run back in the home half against Keegan Akin. With two outs in the inning, Jose Ramirez took the left-hander deep to left, just clearing the outfield wall for a solo shot, making it a 2-1 game.
The Indians ran themselves out of the second inning before the O’s added another run. Mancini opened the inning with a double to left. After a flyout, Mountcastle made it a 3-1 game with a single to left.
The Tribe threatened for a third straight inning and broke things open with a monstrous inning aided by some luck. Bradley Zimmer singled and moved to second on a walk by Cesar Hernandez. Amed Rosario ripped a single to left to score Zimmer, while a bad throw by Stewart allowed both runners to move up. That became key as Ramirez laced the next pitch into right. Hernandez scored and Rosario motored towards home to make it a 4-3 Cleveland lead. The throw was cut off with Ramirez caught in no man’s land, but after a quick rundown, he was able to evade Galvis and reach second safely with a head first dive, then realizing that third base was left undefended, he pounced back to his feet and raced to the bag, nearly stumbling along the way before hugging the hot corner in his arms. Two pitches later, he scored with ease as Harold Ramirez slashed a two-base hit into the left field corner, and he came in to score on a one-handed double to right by Eddie Rosario to give the Tribe a 6-3 advantage. Akin got the next three in order, but the big inning put the home team on top.
Civale worked around a one-out single in the fourth, but a similar hit in the fifth came back to hurt. After striking out Galvis for the second out, Mountcastle parked a souvenir over the left field wall to make it a one-run game at 6-5.
Nick Sandlin relieved Civale in the sixth and pitched himself into and out of a mess. After striking out the first two batters looking, he walked Pat Valaika and hit Mullins with a pitch. A passed ball allowed both runners to move up 90 feet, but Mancini was unable to get the job done, lining out to left to leave a pair.
Akin made it eleven straight retired after the scoring onslaught with a pair of strikeouts to open the bottom of the sixth before he issued a free pass to Rene Rivera. Zimmer singled, knocking the southpaw out of the game. Hunter Harvey took over but quickly surrendered a big time hit as Hernandez made contact and poked the baseball just past the first baseman and down the right field line for a bases clearing triple, putting two more on the board to make it an 8-5 game.
Baltimore responded in the next half inning as the Tribe’s defense fell apart behind Bryan Shaw. Galvis singled before a strikeout by Mountcastle. Stewart chopped a double play ball to the hole at second, but Hernandez’s throw to the bag missed Ramirez but found Rosario backing it up. Unable to convert the out at second, Rosario fired to first, but was not in time to nab Stewart. Hays singled to right two pitches later to score Galvis to make it 8-6. Franco did the same to score Stewart with some help from Chang, who tried to cut the throw to plate that may have been able to nab the runner. With the tying run standing at second, Shaw took matters into his own hands, punching out Pedro Severino on three pitches before retiring pinch-hitter Anthony Santander on high heat.
Harvey retired the side in order after the stretch, but the Tribe threatened against Paul Fry in the eighth. Rivera was hit by a pitch with two outs. Zimmer drew a walk to reach safely for the third time on the night. The next pitch hit Hernandez to load the bases, but Rosario left the bags full with a groundout to first.
Emmanuel Clase came on for the ninth in relief of James Karinchak, looking for his second save of the series in his third straight appearance. He punched out Mountcastle on a slider and got Stewart to pop to short before Hays grounded a 1-2 pitch to third to end it.
The win pushed the Indians to 37-28, while the Orioles lost their seventh straight and 18th consecutive road game to drop to 22-45.
Civale was not at his best, but his teammates backed him up with the big early inning to help him to his tenth victory of the season to lead the Majors. He was charged with five runs on nine hits in five innings of work, walking two and striking out two. Akin suffered his second defeat of the year, giving up all eight runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts and three walks along the way in five and two-thirds innings of work.
Ramirez’s home run was his 15th on the year and pushed his RBI total to 41. Zimmer reached safely three times. Bradley’s hitting streak ended at five games with an 0-for-3, but he has reached base in eight of his first nine games this season.
Eli Morgan (0-1, 20.25 ERA) is expected to get his second look on the MLB mound for the Tribe this season in Thursday’s 1:10 PM ET series finale. Right-hander Jorge Lopez (2-7, 5.64 ERA) will make his second start this season against Cleveland for Baltimore, looking to end the team’s long losing streak and to avoid a four-game sweep.
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