The Cleveland bats backed six different pitchers with four home runs as the Indians swept the Baltimore Orioles behind a 10-3 final from Progressive Field on Thursday afternoon.
With the bullpen expecting to do some heavy lifting with young right-hander Eli Morgan making his second big league start, the bats came to the rescue to provide the entire pitching staff with some wiggle room. Jose Ramirez had a big day, driving home three runs, but Yu Chang made an even bigger contribution out of the eight-hole, driving in a career-high four runs on a pair of two-RBI knocks to help guide the Indians (38-28) to a four-game sweep and a season-high record ten games above the .500 mark.
Morgan stranded a pair of two-out base runners in the first after being struck by a line drive before the Tribe offense got to work against Jorge Lopez. Amed Rosario singled with one out and Ramirez knocked his 16th homer of the year over the right field wall to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead. After Eddie Rosario fouled out, Bobby Bradley added to the scoring with a solo blast to center. His fourth of the season made it a 3-0 game after one.
Austin Hays homered to left-center to start the second before Morgan retired the next four in a row. Trey Mancini singled and Freddy Galvis was struck by a pitch with one out in the third, but the rookie righty struck out Ryan Mountcastle and got Anthony Santander to fly to left to leave the tying run standing at first base.
The Tribe added to their tally in the bottom of the third. Lopez got the first two men, but E. Rosario belted his first homer in Cleveland as an Indian to extend the lead to three at 4-1.
Baltimore made it a ball game again in the top of the fourth and knocked Morgan out of the game. Maikel Franco launched a homer to left with one down in the inning and Austin Wynns doubled with two outs to bring manager Terry Francona out of the dugout for left-hander Kyle Nelson. He plunked Cedric Mullins with a 1-1 pitch on the head and gave up an 0-2 single to right to Mancini as the Orioles cut the score to 4-3. With a chance to tie the game with runners on the corners, Galvis grounded into a fielder’s choice.
The Indians responded with a big run in the bottom of the inning to give themselves some room. Josh Naylor walked with one out, but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice. First pitch swinging, young infielder Ernie Clement launched a deep drive to left-center, scoring Yu Chang from first base on his first big league double. He was left there when Bradley Zimmer struck out looking to end the inning.
Both teams swapped pitchers midway through scoreless fifth frames. After Trevor Stephan struck out his second and third batters of the afternoon in the top of the sixth, the Tribe lineup got back to work to break the game open. Facing former Indians farmhand Cole Sulser, newly added catcher Ryan Lavarnway kick-started the inning with a single to center. A double by Naylor put the pair in scoring position against reliever Dillon Tate. His second pitch was sent back into center by Chang for a two-run single, making it a 7-3 game before Tate worked his way out of the inning.
Tate pitched a perfect seventh before Cleveland added on with its second three-run inning on the ball game. With Mac Sceroler taking over on the mound, Naylor worked him for six pitches before singling to right. Chang sent the next offering over the left field wall for his second homer of the season, making it a 9-3 game. Clement drew a walk and motored to third on a single by Zimmer. One out later, Ramirez drove in the runner from third on a fielder’s choice force out at second to give the Tribe double digit runs of offense for the day.
Nick Wittgren retired the side on five pitches in the ninth, getting three outs in the air.
Baltimore dropped its 19th straight road contest while losing all four games of the series. The O’s are now 22-46 on the year.
All nine Indians to bat recorded at least one hit on the afternoon with the club as a whole tallying 13 on the game. The team put up ten runs despite going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Morgan was charged with three runs on five hits with five strikeouts over three and two-thirds innings, but was hurt by a pair of long balls. The Cleveland relief staff behind him of Nelson, Stephan, Sam Hentges, Phil Maton, and Wittgren combined for five and one-third innings of scoreless three-hit baseball, allowing no walks while striking out eight. Lopez was issued a worse day on the rubber, giving up five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts over four and one-third innings to drop to 2-8 on the campaign.
Prior to the game, the Indians added Lavarnway to the roster to replace Austin Hedges, who was placed on the 7-day concussion list. Jordan Luplow was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster for Lavarnway, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Columbus after spending time on the Tribe’s taxi squad as an emergency catching option.
With their homestand in the books, the Indians will hit the road for a six-game road trip, beginning Friday night in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. J.C. Mejia is expected to get the start for Cleveland against Chad Kuhl in the 7:10 PM start.
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