The Orioles had to win tonight in order to split the series with the Indians. But it just wasn’t in the cards. Kevin Gausman and Carlos Carrasco put on a real pitcher’s duel, but in the end Carrasco was a bit better and the Indians were able to hold on to a 2-1 win.
In his last start against Detroit, Gausman broke out a new windup delivery where he brings his hands over his head. He continued with that change tonight and it yielded impressive results. The only blemish on his night was a Yonder Alonso home run.
Edwin Encarnacion started off the second inning by dumping a single into center field. Alonso came up to the plate next and crushed a home run to center field, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Alonso was two for six with a double and an RBI lifetime against Gausman coming into the game.
In the bottom of the second, the Orioles would get three singles for their first run and only run of the game. Adam Jones led off with a single into center field, bringing Chris Davis to the plate, who took a 94 mph fastball to the opposite field for a single and advanced Jones to third. Danny Valencia, getting a rare start at third base against a righty, struck out on three pitches. Then rookie Chance Sisco pulled the first pitch he saw on the ground into right field, reducing Cleveland’s lead to 2-1. Anthony Santander hit a screaming liner right back to Carrasco, who somehow got his glove up, snared the ball and doubled Sisco off first base to end the Orioles rally.
The Orioles had some chances with runners on base, but they just couldn’t get a clutch hit. In the bottom of the third, Craig Gentry took the first pitch he saw from Carrasco for a line drive single up the middle. Tim Beckham struck out on a 1-2 pitch while Gentry stole second. With one out and a runner in scoring position, Pedro Alvarez popped out to Jason Kipnis. The Indians then chose to walk the Orioles’ hottest hitter, Manny Machado, bringing Adam Jones to the plate with two outs and two ducks on the pond. Jonesy swung at the first pitch, grounding into a 6-4 fielder’s choice at second base to close out the inning.
In the Orioles’ half of the sixth, Alvarez swung at the first pitch he saw and flied out to center field. The next batter, Machado, took the count full before taking first base on a pitch high and inside. Coming into the game, he led the team in walks with 12 and OBP at .434. But Machado made a costly mistake on the basepaths, running all the way past second as Bradley Zimmer made a sliding catch of Jones’ line drive and threw in to complete a double play.
As the game progressed, Gausman would only get stronger. He worked most of the night with his fastball at 95 mph. But in the sixth inning, it topped out at 97. Oddly enough, until the seventh inning came around his last strikeout was all the way back in the second.
But in the seventh, Gausman struck out the side, in order, on nine pitches. Alonso, Yan Gomes, Zimmer…take a seat! It was only the 90th time in major league history that feat had been accomplished (the “Immaculate Inning”). The last Oriole to do it was B.J. Ryan in 1999, when he struck out Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Richie Sexson on nine pitches.
The Orioles had another chance to scratch a run across in the seventh. With one out, Danny Valencia swung at the first pitch he saw and drove a fly ball over the center fielder’s head for a double. Sisco struck out on a check swing and it was up to Anthony Santander to come through with a two out RBI, or at least extend the inning. He came into the night hitting .153 with a .448 OPS, including 1-14 in the last seven days. He flied out to deep right, just in front of the warning track, to end the threat.
After his dominant seventh, Gausman came back on to work the eighth with his pitch count at 98. He retired Guyer on the first pitch, a sharp line drive hit directly at Valencia, who was playing in on the grass at third. Ground ball to Beckham and there were two outs. Gausman’s last batter of the night would be a Kipnis, who struck out swinging, bringing the number of consecutive batters retired by Gausman to 10.
The Orioles had one of their best chances of the night with runners on in the eighth inning. With one out, Beckham roped a single into center on the first pitch he saw. Andrew Miller came on for the Indians and Trey Mancini pinch hit for Alvarez. After working the count to 2-2, Mancini struck out swinging on a ball way down and inside. Next up was Machado, who pulled a ground ball into left field through the hole between shortstop and third. Runners on first and second, two out, Jones at the plate. Luis Sardinas pinch ran for Beckham, who got checked out by Brian Ebel during the pitching change earlier in the inning. Miller got ahead of Jones quickly, 0-2. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice at second and the inning was over.
Cody Allen came on for the save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth for Cleveland. Davis battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before working the count full, but he struck out on a 95 mph fastball. Valencia struck out on three pitches, the third time that happened in the game. Sisco took a fastball down the middle for strike three, and that was it.
The Orioles have lost 11 of their last 13 games, including three out of four in this series against the Indians. The Tampa Bay Rays come to town tomorrow, and Baltimore will look to bounce back against one of their AL East division rivals. The pitching matchup is RHP Alex Cobb (0-2, 15.43 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Faria (1-1, 5.82 ERA) at 7:05 PM.