The Orioles managed to get the tying runner into scoring position, but failed to bring him home after a late rally. Baltimore tallied only four hits all night, and fell 2-1 to Cleveland in the first game of a three game series.
Cleveland took an early two-run lead in the bottom of the first, and the score remained the same until the eighth inning. Baltimore trimmed the lead in half with a Trey Mancini RBI single. After a few scoreless innings by the bullpen, the Orioles had a chance to tie.
Chris Davis kicked off the ninth inning with a strike out looking, but Renato Nunez worked a one-out walk to give the Orioles life. Craig Gentry replaced Nunez as a pinch runner, and did not waste any time attempting to advance into scoring position. Gentry broke for second on a straight steal, and Cleveland closer Cody Allen bounced a wild pitch into the dirt. Gentry slid into second without a throw, but he may have been able to sneak into third if he had peaked towards home and noticed the wild pitch.
Tim Beckham got under a fastball and flew out to left field. Obviously, there is no way of knowing if Beckham would have gotten that pitch to hit, but a fly ball with Gentry on third would have likely resulted in a tie ball game. Instead, Joey Rickard stepped up representing the Orioles final hope. Rickard struck out swinging, and Cleveland held on for the victory.
The story of the night, even in defeat, had to be the performance of Orioles starter David Hess. The 25-year-old rookie appeared to be heading for a rough night. After Hess walked the second batter he faced in the bottom of the first, Jose Ramirez blasted his 37th home run to provide Cleveland the early advantage. The towering shot managed to stay inside the right-field foul pole, and gave Ramirez a share of the MLB home run lead.
But Hess battled throughout the night, and did not allow another run in six innings. After he wiped out a lead off single with a double play in the third, Hess sandwiched a hit by pitch in between two walks to load the bases. He was able to get Yonder Alonso to strike out swinging to end the threat. Alonso chased a breaking ball that would have been ball four, and Hess escaped the jam.
The Tennessee native finished with a line of 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks and 3 strikeouts. Clearly, the four walks were not ideal, but Hess managed to work his way out of every jam he faced after the first inning. His 97-pitch effort saved a few innings from a bullpen that appeared to be in store for a long night early in the contest.
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco held Baltimore hitters in check for the seven innings that he pitched. He allowed only three hits, just one walk and struck out six batters. A pitch count of 116 prevented him from continuing, and may have been the only thing that gave the Orioles a chance.
Our old friend Andrew Miller came in to pitch the eighth, and was eventually charged with a run. Miller walked Caleb Joseph to begin the inning, and Joseph advanced to second on a ground out by Jonathan Villar. Adam Cimber replaced Miller with two outs and Mancini at the plate. Mancini turned around a two-strike sinker up the middle, and Joseph scored without a throw. Unfortunately, Mark Trumbo bounced a ball back to Cimber to end the threat.
Hess took the loss, Carrasco earned the win, and Allen notched the save.
Cedric Mullins finished 0-4 in his first game as the Orioles leadoff hitter. I have a feeling they’ll give him another shot. Mancini, Trumbo, Beckham and Chris Davis collected the only four hits for the Orioles. The team also worked three walks. There’s no shame in struggling against a pitcher that’s tied for the MLB lead in wins, but the Orioles offense looked flat throughout the contest.
Baltimore will send its hottest pitcher to the mound tomorrow afternoon. Alex Cobb will face Adam Plutko in the 4:05 start. The Orioles offense will need to show more life against the spot starter tomorrow if they have any shot at winning the series.