The Orioles attempted to get their first sweep of the year today, but they just weren’t up to the task. Well, the hitters weren’t up to the task. The pitchers did their job, allowing just two runs in the game. The end result was as 2-0 loss. At least they won the series, I suppose.
It seems that scoring 26 runs combined on Friday and Saturday really took it out of the O’s hitters, because today they were only able to muster three hits in eight innings off of starter Shane Bieber. They did put up a fight against closer Brad Hand (more on that later), but it was too little, too late.
It was a heck of a game by Bieber, whose 24 outs stacked up like this: 11 strikeouts, 10 ground outs, two infield pop ups, and one pick off. He dominated the Orioles today just as he did when he faced them in May.
Twice the Orioles got a runner on base with just one out against Bieber. In the first inning, Dwight Smith singled but was the previously mentioned pick off. Not good, Dwight. Stevie Wilkerson singled with one out in the sixth but was stranded when Bieber struck out Jonathan Villar and Smith to end the inning.
The only extra-base hit the Orioles managed was a two-out double from Rio Ruiz in the fifth inning. Hanser Alberto, well known for his singling abilities, came to the plate. That’s all the Orioles needed to tie the game, but Alberto did not single. He grounded out.
On the flip side, Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa wasn’t as sharp as Bieber, but he still put together a very nice start. Coming into the game with a 6.75 ERA, Ynoa pitched 5.1 strong innings. It looked to me like he could have gone longer, but after his recent troubles I’m not complaining.
Ynoa had just one laborious inning, the third. With two outs, Oscar Mercado doubled and Carlos Santana knocked him in with a single. Jason Kipnis followed with a single and a stolen base, but Ynoa stopped the damage there by retiring José Ramírez. He settled back down after that but unfortunately that was the only run the Indians would need to win the game. Ynoa’s final pitching line was 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. He lowered his ERA to 6.22.
The bullpen took over from there with appearances from Paul Fry (1 IP), Shawn Armstrong (1.1 IP), and Richard Bleier (1 IP). The Indians’ second run came off of Armstrong in the seventh inning and it was nearly identical to the first one. With two outs, Mercado doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. Santana then singled Mercado in for his second RBI of the afternoon.
Hand relieved Bieber for the ninth inning and there was some finally some excitement at the plate for the Orioles! They didn’t actually score any runs, but at least there was excitement, including manager Brandon Hyde managing like it was the playoffs. He wanted that sweep, dammit!
First to the plate was Pedro Severino, pinch hitting for Stevie Wilkerson. He struck out. Then Villar singled to bring the tying run to the plate. Hyde sent pinch hitter Renato Núñez up in place of Dwight Smith. Núñez also struck out. Those pinch hitters not working out so well, huh, Brandon?
Now with two outs, Trey Mancini singled to put the winning run at the plate! Hyde immediately sent in pinch runner Keon Broxton to replace Mancini. Chance Sisco had a very good at-bat that ended in a walk and Hyde replaced him at first with Richie Martin. All the Orioles needed from Anthony Santander to tie the game was a single. Instead, he struck out to end the game. Alas. O’s lose, 2-0.
The first sweep and first walk-off win of the season will have to wait for another day for the Orioles. Tomorrow they kick off a six-game road trip to wrap up the first half, starting with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays.