We all know that the Indians have an abysmal record against left-handed pitching this season. They’d only won five games all season against left-handed starters prior to their stop in Baltimore; they’ve won two in three days against the Orioles’ left-handed starters. Heading into this weekend, I felt a fair amount of dread since three of the four games in the Baltimore series were set to be started by southpaws. On Thursday they hit well against Wei-Yin Chen and today they hit Dana Eveland for five earned runs in 3.2 innings, knocking him from the game in the fourth. They piled on 11 runs on 19 hits to defeat the Orioles 11-5.
Have you ever been so hot that your eyelids started to sweat? That’s what it was like at today’s game. Even though I’d been a little nervous since they were calling for a high of 104 with a heat index in the 110s, the temperature at the first pitch was a cool 91. Even though it wasn’t nearly as bad as expected (and no worse than the heat on the day I left Cleveland), you still roasted sitting in the sun for 3+ hours. For 6 years I lived in southern Pennsylvania, and I used to spend a lot of time at Camden Yards (particularly when the Indians were in town). It was nice to take a journey back to visit friends and see the game; it’s truly a beautiful place in which to see a ball game.
The Indians jumped on Eveland quickly in the first, but eventually left the bases loaded with just one run in. Immediately, I thought it was going to be another one of “those days” where the Indians put runners on, but the bottom of the order just can’t get them home. After Duncan struck out and Kotchman flew out, I have to admit I was a bit paranoid. The Indians made up for missed opportunities soon enough though and saw great days from Shin-Soo Choo (4 for 5 with a home run) and Lou Marson (4 for 5). Marson was just a home run shy of the cycle; the second Indians player in June to fall just one piece short of the cycle (Lonnie Chisenhall had everything but the double against the Reds back on June 18).
Josh Tomlin, while far from perfect, got the job done. He had some ugly moments, but also some innings where he seemed to plow through batters with ease. On a day when the Indians’ offense was on fire, his five earned runs allowed on seven hits in six innings was good enough for the victory. Tony Sipp also looked better when he pitched in the 9th; he’s had two good outings in a row to lower his ERA to 6.39. Isn’t it sad when you’re pleased that a pitcher lowered his ERA to 6.39, especially when he was really reliable last year?
In the first three games of this series, the Indians have already scored 26 runs; combined in the series against the Astros and the Yankees last week the Indians scored just 13 runs in six games. While that’s a positive sign, especially since a good percentage of those runs came against left-handed pitching, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t issues during this series. Despite the Indians’ slugfest today, they still stranded 16 runners on base. Casey Kotchman and Aaron Cunningham combined went 0-11; Jason Kipnis was the only other player to remain hitless today (he did walk once). Cunningham looked simply dreadful today, and I was actually pleased just to see a flyout compared to a pathetic-looking strikeout or a weak groundout. I know that he’s really the only solid backup center field option the Indians have, but you have to wonder if it isn’t time to give Trevor Crowe another shot. Not that I think Crowe is “the answer” or anything, but he certainly couldn’t be any worse at this point. Cunningham has played more recently since they’ve been facing a fair amount of left-handed pitching. Maybe they’re seeing what he can do before they make any kind of decision. I’m actually a little surprised he’s survived on the roster this long; I think it’s just because there is nobody else to take his place and do any better of a job.
If nothing else, the Indians have at least confirmed that they will split the series with the Orioles. After the way this road trip has gone, I’ll take it at this point.
A few more things from today’s game:
The Orioles announced on the scoreboard that they made a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for Jim Thome. The message to fans said that he would be in uniform with the team tomorrow. In my opinion, everyone seemed kind of “meh” about the announcement, but they could have been lethargic from the heat.
The Orioles also had a nice pregame service to honor the unveiling of a new Earl Weaver statue (fans got a miniature version of the statue at the gate today). The Orioles are having a series of statue unveilings throughout the season for six different players – Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, and Brooks Robinson. All of the players gathered for a pre-game ceremony to honor Weaver today, the second unveiling of the season.
Here are a few extra pictures from today’s game: