It was nice out in Cleveland.
The Orioles left Cleveland with a whimper, getting knocked around by the Indians lineup and putting up another lifeless effort at the plate, with a 10-0 loss being the end result at Progressive Field.
One day after being one-hit in a 4-1 loss, the Orioles were even less competitive this time around, and played like a team eager to get away from the banks of the Cuyahoga and back to Charm City. Baltimore pitchers, starter Yefry Ramirez in particular, had no answer for Cleveland hitters, the O’s lineup showed so much fight that Indians starter Shane Bieber set a career high in strikeouts and innings pitched, and the defense picked its moments to let the team down as well.
Want a highlight? Early in the game, broadcasters Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick debated whether the flora behind the center field wall was made up of trees or shrubbery. Does that count?
The Orioles didn’t provide many. The trouble started right away. Francisco Lindor led off with a double down the right field line, and Jason Kipnis followed with a bunt that bounced high off the plate and that catcher Austin Wynns couldn’t handle for a single. Carlos Santana followed with a single to right, and six pitches in, the O’s were down 1-0.
The Indians were just getting started. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly (which would have been more had center fielder Stevie Wilkerson not made a terrific running catch) to make it 2-0, and in the third, Roberto Perez singled, Lindor doubled to the same place he did in the first, and Perez scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
Wynns has had issues fielding balls in the dirt and this was another chapter in the story, as Ramirez’s pitch was a harmless one by major league standards that nonetheless slipped through the 5-hole and allowed Perez to scamper home easily.
The Indians were at it again in the third when Santana roped a home run to right after Ramirez tried to tie him up with a fastball over the heart of the plate. Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Ramirez walked, and after a wild pitch from Yefry Ramirez (whose command was terrible for all 3.1 innings of his outing), Perez’s grounder to short allowed Gonzalez to score to make it 5-0.
Cleveland began picking on the Orioles’ bullpen in the sixth, when No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Leonys Martin and Oscar Mercado doubled off first Richard Bleier and then Gabriel Ynoa. Bad turned to worse when Lindor grounded to Ynoa, who tried to throw out Mercado at third.
The only problem was that third baseman Rio Ruiz wasn’t at the bag yet, and Ynoa’s throw went wildly into the left field foul area and allowed Mercado to make it 7-0. A bases-loaded walk by Jose Ramirez made it three runs in the inning and 8-0 for the game.
Cleveland’s final runs came in the seventh on a two-run double by Mike Freeman, who batted only once and still had a better day than the entirety of the Orioles lineup. Baltimore batters couldn’t touch Bieber, who went the distance, allowed only five hits (all singles) and struck out 15. The 23-year-old righthander was excellent, getting ahead of nearly every hitter and mixing in both sharp-breaking curveballs and 95 mph fastballs at the knees.
The Orioles’ lone threat came in the third, with the game still within reach at 3-0. Ruiz singled, and Hanser Alberto hit a hard shot right at Santana that the first baseman picked cleanly to start a 3-6 double play. The Orioles nearly put the misfortune behind them when Wynns singled and Villar hit an identical hot shot to Santana that this time ricocheted off his glove, but Dwight Smith Jr. struck out swinging with runners on the corners to keep the O’s off the board.
That inning aside, it was a three-up, three-down parade, with the Orioles taking turns trying in vain to figure Bieber out. Seven of nine Orioles starters struck out, with Smith and Chris Davis ending the afternoon saddled with golden sombreros for their struggles.
For highlights outside the broadcast booth, there were a couple. Wilkerson’s catch in the first was indeed impressive, as Gonzalez’s drive seemed destined for the gap and extra bases until he caught up with it. And Jonathan Villar had a pair of diving stops that, in a vacuum and minus context, belong on a reel of top plays.
But that was it. On an afternoon that the Orioles would do well to forget, there wasn’t all that much worth remembering.