The Orioles lost again on Sunday with a similar formula as to what they have used all season long. Andrew Cashner delivered a solid start, but the offense was a one-man show and the bullpen did little to keep things competitive late. In the end, the O’s dropped this game 7-3 to the Cleveland Indians and will now have to hope for a split in Monday’s finale.
It was a weird day for the Baltimore offense.
Going against Corey Kluber, a pitcher who strikes out opposing hitters in bunches, one would expect the Birds, who entered the day with the second-most K’s in the league, to go down on three strikes pretty often. It didn’t happen like that. Through the first six innings, Baltimore struck out just once (Craig Gentry in the third inning). However, the Cleveland ace did manage to strike out the side (with some serious resistance from Anthony Santander’s 12-pitch at-bat) in the seventh inning.
Kluber is also known as a guy who doesn’t allow too many home runs. He have given up just two long balls in his first 29.2 innings pitched this season. In this one, the defending American League Cy Young award winner served up two DONGS in the first four frames, both of which came off the bat of the red hot Manny Machado.
So, it sounds like the Birds had a surprisingly nice day at the plate, right? Wrong. Kluber was able to battle despite not having his normal strikeout stuff because the O’s were getting weak contact early in at-bats. Prior to Santander’s tough AB, Kluber looked poised to deliver the Indians a second consecutive complete game.
Both of Machado’s home runs were of the solo variety. Kluber issued no walks. Cleveland didn’t make any errors. And the Birds scattered four other hits. A Caleb Joseph blooper to lead off the eighth inning brought Kluber’s afternoon to an end. His final line: seven innings, three runs, six hits, four strikeouts and no walks.
The only other O’s run came in the fourth inning after Machado’s second round-tripper. Adam Jones doubled and was brought in to score by a Chris Davis single. At the time, it gave the hosts a short-lived 3-2 lead. They had a chance to make it more, but a Tim Beckham double play ended the threat.
Cashner continued a steady beginning to his career as an Oriole. Over six innings, he allowed four runs on two walks and seven strikeouts in a losing effort. His season ERA is now 3.60. He has been much better than most in Birdland expected.
The starter’s first two innings were especially impressive. He sat the visitors down in order with four strikeouts in the process. The third inning was a battle as Yan Gomes led off with a single and Tyler Naquin reached on an error by Luis Sardinas, but Cashner then retired Rajai Davis, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis to keep Cleveland off of the scoreboard.
It was the second and third times through the order that really hurt Cashner. Jose Ramirez led off the fourth inning with a home run. Later in that same frame, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso hit back-to-back doubles, which gave the Indians a 2-1 lead at the time.
In the next inning, Davis led off with a walk. Lindor followed with a single to score Davis. A walk to Ramirez gave Cleveland two runners. Then, a Michael Brantley single drove in Lindor to give them all the runs they would need.
However, the Tribe wasn’t done scoring. After two scoreless innings of relief by Miguel Castro (two hits, zero walks, one strikeout), Buck Showalter turned to Brad Brach to keep the O’s within striking distance. That wound up being a poor decision. Brach had his worst outing of the season.
Kipnis led off the ninth inning with a single, and Ramirez brought him home with his second home run of the day. Two batters later, Alonso singled and came around to score on a Gomes double off of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. To be fair, Santander played the Gomes ball about as bad as possible. He didn’t really commit to catching it and he didn’t stand far enough away from the wall to give himself a chance at nabbing the ricochet. A better right fielder may have held Gomes to single and almost certainly would have prevented a run from scoring. Alas, the Orioles don’t have a better right fielder.
The O’s were outclassed by a better team. Honestly, they were lucky to only allow seven runs despite the Indians racking up 14 hits, walking twice and getting the added benefit of an error.
Baltimore just isn’t very good right now. Maybe when Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo and Zach Britton get healthy things will turn around, but it may already be too late by the time that happens.
The positives: Cashner is showing to be a smart signing as long as his unfavorable peripherals don’t pop up in the box score. Castro was very good out of the ‘pen. And Machado is looking like one of the best players in the league. Some games, that will all add up to a win. Today just wasn’t that day.
These two clubs will wrap up the four-game set on Monday night. Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles. He will be opposed by Cleveland’s right-hander Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 2.60 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Camden Yards.