Orioles lose two leads in Cleveland series opener (quotes added)

CLEVELAND - When Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer retired the Orioles on eight pitches in the first inning tonight it looked like he might have a big game. Bauer began the game ninth in the American League in ERA.

But that early look was very, very deceiving. It was not a good night for several pitchers, Bauer included. And for the Orioles, another close game got away from them in the last of the seventh tonight.

The Orioles saw leads of 5-1 and 7-6 that they did not hold as they fell 14-7 to the Cleveland Indians to open a four-game series at Progressive Field.

A final scoring drive to tie it up never came.

With Baltimore down 8-7 heading to the last of the seventh, Cleveland scored five runs to break it open. The Orioles contributed greatly to their own demise with a hit-by-pitch by Paul Fry and a walk from Miguel Castro to ignite the rally.

After a Leonys Martin single made it 9-7, Cleveland scored twice on a fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded to lead 11-7. Second baseman Hanser Alberto fielded Jason Kipnis’ grounder and, in an attempt to get a double play, tried to tag Francisco Lindor as he was headed for second. But Lindor eluded the tag, and Alberto’s eventual throw to first base was late. A second runner tried to score and first baseman Chris Davis’ throw home was late too. It was a two-RBI at-bat and six-RBI game for Kipnis. A two-run double by José Ramirez followed to put an exclamation point on the rally. That five-run inning featured just two Cleveland hits.

Straily-Shaven-Gray-sidebar.jpgMuch earlier, after Kipnis homered off Baltimore right-hander Dan Straily for a 1-0 lead in the first, the O’s went ahead in the second inning on Rio Ruiz’s two-run homer to right-center. Ruiz, batting .324 in May, smoked a Bauer 94 mph fastball 427 feet for his fourth homer and the lead.

An inning later, one big swing by Trey Mancini made it a 5-1 game. After Jonathan Villar walked and Dwight Smith Jr. singled, Mancini hit a Bauer fastball out to right-center for his team-leading ninth home run. That gave the Orioles the early four-run lead. Mancini recently ended a 22-game homerless stretch and now has homered three times in six games.

The Orioles had it going, but the early lead would evaporate. Straily entered with an ERA of 8.23 and had allowed 11 runs in 8 2/3 innings over his past two starts.

Cleveland would come back on him with three singles and a walk in the third to close to 5-3. In the fourth, Straily allowed an infield hit and then got a flyout, but he was pulled at 75 pitches for right-hander Gabriel Ynoa.

Ynoa issued a walk, allowed a deep fly ball that stayed in the park, and then one that didn’t. Kipnis came through again with a three-run shot for a 6-5 Indians lead. He hit his first two homers of the year tonight after starting the game with none in 101 plate appearances. He hit a sinker from Ynoa that found middle-middle and produced Kipnis’ fifth career multi-homer game. It was Cleveland 6, Orioles 5.

But the Orioles did not roll over at that point. In fact, they rallied for a 7-6 lead on Stevie Wilkerson’s two-run double off the left field wall in the fifth. He hit a 1-1 fastball at 95 mph for his second hit, and that turned a one-run deficit into a one-run advantage. It scored Villar and Mancini, who had both walked.

Neither starter had a pitching line to brag on. Straily gave up six hits and four runs over 3 1/3 and has an 8.51 ERA. Bauer allowed seven runs over five innings on 99 pitches. He gave up eight runs two starts ago, had a scoreless start last time and allowed seven tonight. He began this game with a career 1-4 record and 5.45 ERA in seven starts against Baltimore.

The Orioles, though, would lose another lead. Leonys Martin and Roberto Pérez singled to start the Cleveland sixth. Fry came on and hit a batter to load the bases. He got Kipnis to ground into a double play, and that tied it 7-7 as a runner scored from third. A hot smash single up the middle off the glove of Alberto by Carlos Santana put the Indians ahead 8-7.

The Indians put the hammer down, with big help from the Orioles in the seventh, and they were on their way to victory.

So the Orioles have lost three games in two days. They fall to 14-29 and have lost seven of the last eight, 13 of 17 and 17 of the last 23 games. They are 3-12 versus Cleveland since the 2017 season. The Indians, who began an 11-game homestand tonight, improved to 23-19.

Manager Brandon Hyde on the night overall: “Well, I love the way we came out swinging the bat on Trevor Bauer, a really good starting pitcher. I really like the at-bats we took against him early. Scored five runs, a couple homers, just had a tough time holding the lead. Even when we gave up the lead once, Wilkerson with a big double off the wall to get the lead back, and then we just couldn’t hold them from there.”

Hyde on pulling Straily at 75 pitches: “Well, he’s at 70-something pitches with one out in the fourth, third time of the order is coming up. We’ve got Gabby there for some length, and I was hoping Gabby could go two, hopefully three to hopefully bridge it into the sixth, seventh inning. It just didn’t happen.”

Hyde on the five-run Cleveland seventh: “I think it was just a couple odd plays. If Hanser, that ball happens again, I think he’s going to get a little more urgency to go to the plate. He kind of got stuck in between because the runner, between first and second. They had some breaks, and we didn’t, that made it an unreachable game.”

Straily on continuing struggles: “It’s frustrating. No one wants to figure out what is going on more than me. It’s getting really annoying. Every fifth day it’s going out there and it seems like I’m making adjustments and just not getting deep into ballgames. It’s not like today I was getting hit around the park. But have to dig a little deeper and give myself an honest evaluation and see what is going on.”

Did Straily know he might get pulled in the fourth?: “No. It’s not my decision when I come out of games. I’ll just give everything I’ve got. As player that is not up to us. We’re not the decision-makers in this process.”

Mancini on a frustrating night: “Just that we had a lot of momentum early on. And kind of had them on their heels and let them hang around, and kind of lost control of the game as it went on. So, you know, not one of our better games, overall. Probably one of our worst. But have to find a way to shake it off and come back tomorrow. They had good at-bats, got back in the game. And you know, just we didn’t really step on their throats when we were up 5-1.”

Mancini on good offense against Bauer: “Yeah, I was really happy, offensively, with our at-bats tonight. I thought we went up there, we all had plans and we all had a good idea of what we were doing. We kind of had a meeting earlier in the day about that. You know, a few of us had meetings with Don (Long, hitting coach) and Howie (Clark, assistant hitting coach), and a lot of us took that into the game today. So that’s something positive to build on for tomorrow.”

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