There was a moment when this game seemed familiar.
The Indians spotted the Orioles three runs in the top of the first but were slowly climbing back. It was the top of the seventh and the score stood tied at three. Trevor Bauer had survived an atrocious beginning to provide six solid innings and the offense had chipped away with single runs in the second, fourth, and fifth. The Indians now had home field advantage for the battle of the bullpens.
And then in a flash, Zach McAllister allowed a double, double, homer combo that put the Indians in a three run deficit that they could not recover from, eventually losing the Friday opener of this weekend series 6-4 to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles scored all six of their run in two clumps. The first three men to face Bauer to start the game all came around to score as perhaps the BauerOutage could have used a few more tosses in the bullpen to find his release point. Adam Jones led off with a single, Bauer plunked Hyun Soo Kim in the foot, and Manny Machado singled in a run to begin the game. Seven pitches into the ballgame, and Bauer was working hard to keep the Indians in it. After a walk to Chris Davis and consecutive strikeouts, a two out single by Jonathon Schoop ruined Bauer’s Houdini attempt, scoring Kim and Machado for an early three run lead.
The Indians gamely fought back, highlighted by consecutive doubles by Jose Ramirez and Juan Uribe in the second to score a run, a long solo home run into the bleachers by Mike Napoli in the fourth, and then a based loaded sacrifice fly by Francisco Lindor that tied the game at three in the fifth.
The game remain tied and Bauer rebounded to give Terry Francona some length in the series opener, going six full innings allowing eight hits and three runs before handing the game off to McAllister. The heart of the O’s order did some damage, though, as Machado doubled, Davis doubled, and then Mark Trumbo hit a two run shot to right. Twelve pitches by McAllister – three critical runs that seemed to put this one away.
There was another moment.
Facing a tough Baltimore bullpen (the O’s pen ranks 2nd in the AL with a 2.54 ERA this season), the Tribe got to side-arming right Darren O’Day in the eighth with a lead off home run by Lindor and then loaded the bases with one out, trailing 6-4. The batter was Chris Gimenez, who promptly hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play, dashing their best chance for a comeback.
Could Tito have pinch hit in this situation? While Gimenez does have two home runs in his brief tour in Cleveland this season, he’s a career .219 hitter (.643 OPS) who’s spent most of his career yoyo-ing between organizations as catching depth. Unfortunately, the Indians reserves don’t inspire a lot of confidence at the moment so Francona looked down the bench at Marlon Byrd, Michael Martinez and Yan Gomes but stuck with Gimenez.
5’9″ Jose Ramirez may not be large in stature, but he had another big night at the plate going 4-for-4 with two doubles. He’s off to a fantastic start as he’s taken on the Mike Aviles “super-utility” role and run away with it. Aviles, meanwhile, is off to a tough start in Detroit hitting .150/.209/.175 with only one extra base hit so far in 44 plate appearances.
The Orioles’ Manny Machado also had four hits, going 4-for-5 with two doubles. Machado, the American League player of the month in April, continues to get better every season and he’s only 23. Oh, and he’s pretty slick with the glove, too.
The Orioles’ banged out thirteen hits on Friday night with Adam Jones going 3-for-5. Mark Trumbo is now tied for the Major League lead in home runs with 15 after his seventh inning blast.