Orioles left-hander Richard Bleier wiped out an inherited runner tonight in the top of the sixth inning by coaxing a double play grounder from Indians catcher Yan Gomes. It wasn’t just about keeping the deficit at two runs. It was the latest attempt to end an embarrassing streak.
Bleier got two quick strikes on Erik González, threw a cutter and watched the ball disappear over the fence in left-center field.
History still can be made. A pitching staff still can fail to locate in any count against any batter.
Unable to take full advantage of numerous scoring opportunities, the Orioles lost to the Indians 6-3 before an announced crowd of 24,954 at Camden Yards. They’re 6-14 against the American League Central.
The Orioles and Blue Jays remain tied for last place in the East with identical 35-37 records. The Orioles have lost 11 of their last 15 games and tie their season high by falling two below .500.
If the Rays score at least five runs tonight at Tropicana Field, the Orioles will tie the 1924 Phillies for the major league record of 20 games in a row. They already held the AL mark tonight.
The Orioles are 6-13 during the streak.
Wade Miley was replaced after Austin Jackson’s leadoff single in the sixth inning. He’s logged five innings in six starts this season, and five or fewer in nine.
Bleier got a double play, got ahead of González and got burned. González now has two major league home runs in 37 games.
Miley allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 111 pitches, 63 for strikes.
Seth Smith hit his sixth career leadoff home run and his fourth with the Orioles to provide an early 1-0 lead. They worked Indians starter Mike Clevinger for 28 pitches. It felt like the tables were turning.
Then, it felt too familiar.
The Orioles wasted a walk and single in the first, with Clevinger retiring the next three batters. They loaded the bases with no outs in the second and settled for one run, and only after Smith grounded into a 1-2-3 double play. Back-to-back walks by Machado and Jonathan Schoop tied the game 2-2.
Schoop has 17 walks, four fewer than his total in 2016.
A one-out single and walk in the third were erased on Rubén Tejada’s double play. A leadoff single by Gentry in the fourth was followed by a caught stealing. Trey Mancini reached on an infield hit with two outs in the fifth and Welington Castillo struck out.
Eleven baserunners since Smith’s homer and only one run scored.
Meanwhile, shutdown innings still aren’t in vogue.
Miley gave up two runs in the second inning on Carlos Santana’s leadoff single, Jackson’s triple and Gomes’ single. Schoop’s walk tied the game in the bottom half, but the Indians took a 4-2 lead in the third after Miley retired the first two batters.
Ramírez walked, Edwin Encarnacion singled, Santana walked to load the bases and Jackson singled to drive in two runs.
The rotation has two quality starts in the last 16 games.
With four runs on the board, the night’s drama expanded to the streak. It intensified when Jason Kipnis reached third base with two outs in the fifth, but Santana bounced to Tejada.
One inning later, game stories had an extra angle.
The Indians tacked on a run in the ninth against Gabriel Ynoa. Ramírez tripled with one out and scored on Encarncion’s single.
Game stories didn’t need to be rewritten.
Down on the farm, left-hander Zach Britton tossed a scoreless first inning tonight at Single-A Delmarva, with one hit allowed and two strikeouts. He threw 16 pitches, 11 for strikes.
Britton will make another appearance with the Shorebirds on Saturday. He began his rehab assignment with a scoreless inning at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
The Orioles promoted outfielder Austin Hays from Single-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie.
The Orioles announced that they signed infielder Adam Hall, their second-round pick out of A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario.
Interim manager John Russell on Miley: “What hurt him is he got two outs and then it took him way too many pitches to get out of that inning. He got two outs and ended up giving up two runs. We get out of that inning, it’s a different, obviously different thing for him. Just one of those things. We’ve got to find a way to get that out when you’re in that situation. It cost him going at least another inning and maybe two. You can kind of boil it down to that. He made some pitches early and then he gets two quick outs and the next thing you know there are two runs across. That was an inning that really hurt, but we had some chances.
“The 1-2-3 double play was a killer. Seth gets a home run and drives another ball to deep center, and that at-bat he happened to hit the ball back to the pitcher. Could have been a different story. But the guys stayed in it. Scratch a run off one of the better left-handers in the league and had a chance to make it a little interesting.
“I thought Bleier and Ynoa came in and did a decent job to where we didn’t have to get into a lot of our bullpen, so going on the road, that really helps us. It keeps some guys fresh, so I thought that was a big thing for us, as well.”
On losing the third batter in the third inning: “I think sometimes, pitchers get those two quick outs and you rush a little bit and next thing you know it’s 2-0. We talk about it as catchers. That’s a situation you get those outs, that’s when you really want to get ahead of a guy and not fall behind. You start falling behind hitters, and I talked to him about it, the amount of 3-2 counts and getting deep and trying to do a better job of putting them away when you’ve got them. But I think one of the biggest things is you get those outs and next thing you know it’s 2-0 and then you get to 3-2.
“I don’t know. It’s one of those things we’ve got to focus a little better on making quality pitches when you’ve got the chance to do it and get the offense back in the dugout. I think that’s one of the things that hurts us a little bit is the guys are on the field a little bit too long. The more we’re in the dugout, it means good things are happening.”
On wasting baserunners: “We were just talking about that earlier, right? We’re really good with runners in scoring position. That’s the way the game is. You look at stats, you look at things, this team’s good at this and that, you’ve still got to go out and do it. That situation again, if Seth Smith is at the plate, that’s a guy I’d like to have at the plate. Hits a leadoff home run, the at-bat after the ground ball he drives the ball to center. It’s a different story, but that’s why you play the game.
“Just because it says something on paper, doesn’t mean it’s always necessarily always going to happen for you. You’ve got to grind it out. I thought some guys had some pretty good at-bats. Jonathan had some really good at-bats. Manny, he battled, worked a couple walks and it’s a good sign. They’re still grinding it out, they’re still trying to grind their bats. You do that, good things will happen. We get the pitching straightened out a little bit, really good things will happen if we stay with that approach.”
On whether Jones was available: “Oh yeah, he was ready. Just wanted to make sure we got him in the right situation. Joey (Rickard) gets on he’s going to pinch-hit, he’s the tying run. We get down in the last inning and he’d be up there if it’s a meaningful situation. It’s one of those things where I was trying to save him for that moment where he could possibly tie the game for us. It just never really came about.”
Update: The Orioles optioned Ynoa after the game. Darren O’Day will take his spot on Friday.