The Orioles have scored three runs or less in 15 games this season.
BALTIMORE – Manny Machado added another two home runs to his count, but otherwise, the Baltimore Orioles offense struggled to score once again in a 7-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday afternoon.
The Orioles were coming off ball game in which they tallied just two hits against starter Mike Clevinger on Saturday. Indians starter Corey Kluber, the reigning American League Cy Young winner, pitched a complete-game shutout in his last appearance at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The odds seemed be stacked against the birds of Baltimore heading into the outing.
That meant nothing to Manny Machado, who continued to his red-hot week with a solo home run in the first inning, his seventh blast of the year. The long ball came on a 2-0 sinker and was hammered into the left field seats at 107.9 mph. It extended his hitting streak to 10 games and the Orioles shortstop has now homered in three of the last four games.
Andrew Cashner worked through the Indians lineup with relative ease the first time through the order, but a leadoff home run by Jose Ramirez in the fourth inning tied the ball game. Edwin Encarnacion double and Yonder Alonso followed with a two-bagger of his own to score the Indians designated hitter and take a 2-1 lead.
Kluber could not hold onto that lead for long as Machado hammered another solo shot, this one on a 1-0 pitch that landed in the Orioles bullpen. It was third time this season that Machado has had a multi-home run game, and the 17th of his career.
The numbers for Machado are off the charts in the last week, and it would be no surprise to anyone in baseball if he was named the AL Player of the Week in the upcoming days. He added another hit in the sixth, this one a single, to give him a three-hit game. He is batting .410 (16-for-39) during the hitting streak, with five home runs, eight runs scored and 11 RBI. He has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games and the eight homers are a career-high in the month of April. The most he’s hit in a month is 12, which he did this past August.
“He’s on top of his game on both sides of the ball for the most part,” Showalter said about Machado’s recent streak. “It’s been fun to watch. He’s locked in.”
Adam Jones followed Machado’s second blast with a double into the right field corner. Chris Davis was able to get a groundball past the shift to score Jones, and the Orioles retook the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the fourth.
The lead would not last long as Cashner could not give the O’s the shutdown inning they needed. Rajai Davis drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning and would score before the first out was recorded. Davis advanced to second on a wild pitch, and a RBI single from Francisco Lindor easily scored the speedster to tie the ball game at three runs apiece. Another walk would haunt Cashner as Ramirez received a free pass two batters later, and Michael Brantley’s liner to left scored Lindor to put the Indians on top once again.
“You want to do so well for your teammates, you know, so you end up hanging that ball or missing a ball,” Cashner said when asked if the team was pressing during the current struggles. “When you try harder, you definitely make it a lot tougher on yourself.”
Cashner came back out for the sixth inning, and while he allowed two singles in the inning, he kept the Indians off the board. He finished the afternoon allowing the four runs on eight hits, two walks, a home run and wild pitch on 112 pitches. He also punched out a season-high seven batters, striking out Jason Kipnis to end the performance. The 112 pitches was the most he’s thrown since Sept. 11, 2015, against the San Francisco Giants as a member of the San Diego Padres.
“Cash fought his way through it, and kept us engaged in the game,” Showalter said when asked about Cashner’s performance. “Didn’t let it get away from him. Thought it was pretty impressive that last out he got to get us in the sixth inning.
Kluber was at his best in the seventh, striking out the side after recording just one strikeout through the first six innings. The Orioles have seen little of the Indians bullpen in the first three games of the series as Trevor Bauer pitched seven innings Friday, Clevinger fired the complete-game shutout yesterday and Kluber lasted seven-plus innings this afternoon.
“Kluber is not going to make many mistakes,” Showalter said. “Manny caught a couple of them on the barrel.”
Machado wasn’t the only player in the series to terrorize opposing pitching as Ramirez also finished the game with multi-home runs. Brad Brach came on to pitch the ninth for Baltimore, and allowed a two-run home run to Ramirez to increase the Indians lead to 6-3. It was the seventh time in his career he had multiple homers in a ball game.
Cleveland added another run in the top of the ninth on Yan Gomes RBI double to plate Yonder Alonso. The three-run inning ballooned Brach’s ERA to 5.19 on the season.
Former Oriole Andrew Miller came on in relief of Kluber in the eighth, and made quick work of the Orioles, striking out two batters. Indians closer Cody Allen worked the ninth, getting through the O’s 3-4-5 hitters to preserve the win.
“Unfortunately, it’s not going so well because the team is not winning,” Machado said about his start of the season. “At the end of the day, it’s about winning games. You come in here and have a good game like I did today, but come out with a loss. It’s not fun.”
Trey Mancini did not play for a second game after injuring his knee when sliding into the wall in foul ground on Friday night. The team doesn’t believe a trip to the disabled list to be necessary, and the hope is for him to be back in the lineup as early as tomorrow.
The series finale of the four-game series will be a 7:05 p.m. start on Monday. Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57 ERA) will take the bump for Baltimore, and the Indians counter with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA to start the young season. The two teams will meet once again in Cleveland Aug. 17-19 to complete the season meetings between the two ball clubs.
Joe Serpico can be found on Twitter @JoeSerp
Photo credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
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