The Orioles have been one of the most successful teams in baseball hitting with runners in scoring position, but they made an exception on Thursday night.
They had Cleveland Indians starter Mike Clevinger up to his eyeballs in base runners and made the least of a series of early-inning opportunities to build a cushion for struggling left-hander Wade Miley. The result was a 6-3 Indians victory before 24,954 at Camden Yards that completed their second losing homestand of the season.
To be exact, Clevinger allowed 10 Orioles to reach base in the first three innings and looked bad doing it. He walked four batters and hit two others, creating RISP at-bats galore that went unexploited.
Instead, it was the Indians who made the most of another disappointing start by Miley, reeling off three straight hits to open the second inning after Seth Smith had put the Orioles on top with his fourth leadoff homer of the season. And it was the Indians, who added two more runs in the third after Miley retired the first two batters in the inning and surrendered a two-out walk.
“Even after the two-out walk, I was a pitch away on three different hitters and didn’t execute the pitch," Miley said. “It would be a different ballgame if I could just execute and make a pitch and didn’t. It just didn’t work out.”
Miley’s line (five innings, eight hits, four earned runs), was actually better than the one that garnered him a victory in his previous start. And it might’ve been good enough on a night when the Orioles didn’t hit into a home-to-first double play with the bases loaded and no one out in the second inning or needed a bases-loaded walk to get anything out of that opportunity.
“We had some chances," said Orioles bench coach John Russell, who managed the team Thursday night so Buck Showalter could travel to Dallas to be present for the birth of his first grandchild. “The 1-2-3 double play was a killer. It was Seth, who hits a home run and he drives another ball to deep center, but in that at-bat he happened to hit the ball back to the pitcher. It could have been a little different story, but the guys stayed in it.”
It was reliever Richard Bleier who gave up the fifth run of the game on a solo homer by Erik Gonzalez, moving the Orioles to within one of tying the major league record for consecutive games allowing at least five runs. The streak now stands at 19 games and the Orioles can acquire joint ownership of that dubious mark with the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies in Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Indians added one more run in the ninth off reliever Gabriel Ynoa on an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion after Jose Ramirez tripled off the right field wall. Ynoa was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game.
The Orioles also added a run in the ninth on an RBI double by Manny Machado, his second hit of the game.
The Orioles (35-37) have now lost 11 of their past 15 games. They remained five games out of first place in the American League East, but have missed several opportunities to gain ground on the slumping first-place New York Yankees.
“It’s depressing,” designated hitter Mark Trumbo said, “but it’s part of the deal. There’s not a single person that has any sympathy for us, and I get it. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s a cliché, but it’s the truth and you keep fighting. It’s our job. We take pride in it.”
Smith leads the way: Smith greeted Clevinger with a long opposite-field home run — the sixth leadoff homer of his career and his fourth this year. The ball landed on the upper level of the bullpen complex in left-center field.
Very instant replay: Indians manager Terry Francona used up his manager’s challenge before there was an out in the bottom of the first inning. Clevinger thought he had Machado picked off first base and apparently so did the Indians’ replay monitor, but the play was too close to overturn.
Bruise brothers: Clevinger was all over the place in the first two innings, and courted disaster when he loaded the bases with a pair of hit batters with no one out in the second. He grazed Rubén Tejada’s leg and then drilled Craig Gentry in the midsection, but almost escaped the jam by coaxing Smith into a 1-2-3 double play. Then he walked Machado and Jonathan Schoop to force in a run.