The Orioles came into their weekend series against the Cleveland Indians hoping a change of scenery could help erase their most frustrating series of this young season.
Having just been swept by the Houston Astros — striking out 52 times, a major league record for a three game series — the Orioles arrived in Cleveland, the final leg of their three-city, nine-game, 10-day road trip admittedly weary. Their early-morning arrival in Cleveland, losing an hour in the process traveling east, had manager Buck Showalter bemoaning the rigors of the schedule.
But the slumping Orioles bats woke up in Cleveland on Friday night and rallied to break open a tied game with a three-run seventh inning, winning their opener at Progressive Field, 6-4, while ending their season-high four-game losing streak.
After averaging 17 strikeouts the previous three games, the Orioles recorded just six strikeouts on Friday.
"Well, the thing we've been focusing on the last four games is W's and L's," Showalter said. "Those things … everything else is, we're trying to get to an end game of winning a game with the Orioles having more runs than they've got after nine innings."
Third baseman Manny Machado, who saw his batting average drop 51 points over the past 12 games, posted a four-hit night and started the Orioles' rally in the seventh against Indians right-hander Zach McAllister with a one-out double. Chris Davis, who was 4 for his last 33, followed with a double of his own to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Mark Trumbo then hit an opposite-field blast that landed inside the right-field flag pole for his team-high 15th homer of the season to put the Orioles up 6-3.
"I hit that thing pretty hard," Trumbo said. "It may not have seemed like it. It was solid contact. This is a tough ballpark to get one out of sometimes. It plays pretty big. At that point of the game, it was really timely. It really worked out well."
Center fielder Adam Jones, making a start from the leadoff spot for the first time since 2010, ignited a three-run first inning against Indians starter Trevor Bauer.
The first four Orioles batters of the game reached base against Bauer. Jones, who was 3-for-5 on the night, opened the game with a single and scored two batters later on Machado's RBI single.
The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs, but the key hit of the inning was Jonathan Schoop's two-out, two-run single — a hit that came after Bauer struck out Trumbo and Nolan Reimold.
"I thought Jon's base hit in the first inning was big from just a mental and emotional standpoint, to take advantage of some really good at-bats," Showalter said.
Orioles right-hander Mike Wright lasted just 42/3 innings, his shortest start of the season. Wright — who allowed three runs on six hits and two walks — fell victim to several deep counts.
Wright couldn't get out of a 30-pitch fifth inning, loading the bases with no outs after issuing a pair of walks to No. 8 hitter Chris Gimenez and leadoff man Carlos Santana and a single to No. 9 hitter Rajai Davis.
He then struck out Jason Kipnis, but Francisco Lindor ended a nine-pitch at bat with a sacrifice fly to right field that tied the game at 3.
Wright was frustrated he wasn't able to get through five innings, especially after being staked to an early three-run lead.
"It was terrible," Wright said. "When you score three in the first, you should shut out, shut out, shut out, every inning after that. I should never walk anybody. I should continue to be aggressive. The home run to Napoli is whatever, a hung slider. Not a pitch I want to throw, but he fouled off 95 at the letters, so that's a heck of an at-bat. But other than that I've got to attack. I can't walk two, especially when I get 0-2."
After Darren O'Day allowed a leadoff homer to Lindor in the eighth to make the score 6-4, then walked Mike Napoli and allowed a double to Jose Ramirez, the Indians had the tying run in scoring position with no outs.
O'Day then struck out Juan Uribe, but Showalter chose to intentionally walk Lonnie Chisenhall — placing the go-ahead run on base — with first base open to face Gimenez. Chisenhall was 2-for-4 with a home run against O'Day in his career.
The strategy paid off. Gimenez hit a sharp grounder that Schoop snagged on the edge of the outfield grass and started a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play, prompting O'Day to emphatically pump his fist in the air.
"That's having good players," Showalter said. "You know your infielders are good and you know your pitcher's good. Coming into the series, I didn't really like that Chisenhall-O'Day matchup if I could stay from it, but we're just fortunate. Their guy hit the ball hard and we were lucky it was in a place where we could catch it."
Bundy gets big outs, first win:
Right-handed reliever Dylan Bundy has been struggling mightily, but the rookie came through in the clutch to help keep the game tied in the fifth inning. He was later rewarded with his first big league win.
Bundy — who had allowed four of eight inherited runners score this season — entered the game with runners on second and third and two outs in a 3-3 game and induced an inning-ending popup from Napoli to end a seven-pitch at bat.
"Yeah it was great," Bundy said. "I can actually remember giving up some inherited runners of Mike's in the past, so I really wanted to get those guys stranded for him to, not just me. Yeah, that was a big moment and I'm happy with the results."
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Bundy allowed a leadoff single to Ramirez in the sixth but threw a scoreless frame for his first scoreless outing in his last four outings. Heading into Friday, Bundy had allowed runs in five of his last six appearances and had allowed seven runs in his last three outings, seeing his ERA balloon from 2.02 to 5.09.
Machado runs wild again
With the Orioles clinging to a 3-2 lead in the fifth, Machado hit a ball into the right-center field gap that was an easy stand-up double. But after seeing the ball bounce back toward the infield, Machado wheeled around second and went to third but was thrown out by Davis.
Machado overslid the bag and third baseman Uribe initially missed Machado as he slid by, but Uribe was able to tag Machado before he was able to re-touch the bag.
It was the fourth time this season that Machado was thrown out attempting to go to third base, the first three times coming on stolen-base attempts.