The Indians rolled into Baltimore on Friday as one of the top hitting teams in the big leagues for June. It seemed an ideal place to finish the month in style. They were playing the last-place Orioles, whose pitching staff had the biggest ERA (5.85) in the AL.
But the Tribe lost 13-0 on Friday. Things did not improve on Saturday. How do we know that? Well, third baseman Mike Freeman pitched the seventh and eighth innings as the Orioles beat down the Indians again, 13-0.
It’s the first time the Indians have been shut out in consecutive games this season. It’s the first time they’ve lost consecutive games since May 30 and May 31. Dating back to 1908, according to baseball-reference.com, they have never been shut out in consecutive games this many runs.
“They played better than us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “This game will make you laugh sometimes, and sometimes it makes you shake your head — and sometimes make you cry. We’ll pick it up tomorrow and see if we can do better.”
Maybe it had something to do with the heat and shirt-clinging humidity. The start of Saturday’s game was delayed for 1 hour and six minutes by rain. But it was just as miserable when the rain stopped and the game started.
More than likely it had something to do with Andrew Casher (8-3, 4.03), Baltimore’s bearded starter. Before the rains came, the Orioles announced that Cashner wasn’t going to start. Former Indians right-hander Shawn Armstrong was given the job of facing his old team.
By after it rained for an hour, the Orioles went back to Cashner as their starter. It seems they were going to use Armstrong as an opener just in case the game got delayed because of the approaching bad weather. That way they wouldn’t lose Cashner to a lengthy rainout.
The Orioles let the Indians know what their pitching plans were. But letting them know and having their hitters make solid contact with Cashner’s were two different things.
Cashner retired 11 straight before Carlos Santana flared a two-out single into left field for the Tribe’s first hit with two out in the fourth. The Indians spent most of the afternoon hitting hitting weak ground balls into the Orioles’ shift on the right side of the infield.
Santana’s hit did not disrupt Cashner’s flow. He retired nine of the next 12 batter. Tyler Naquin walked to start the fifth, but was erased on a double play grounder by Bobby Bradley. Kevin Plawecki singled to start the eighth, but was stranded. Kipnis hit a one-out double in seventh, but could not get home.
Cashner, in seven scoreless innings, 50 four-seam fastball and 40 changeups. The Indians were defenseless against both pitches.
Francisco Lindor, Oscar Mercado and Santana, the Tribe’s top three hitters, were a combined 1-for-12 on the day. The Orioles out-hit the Indians, 13-5.
It’s not like the Indians lost to the Astros or Dodgers. They lost to the 27-51 Orioles.
It’s the first time Baltimore has won consecutive games since May 4 and May 6. It’s the first time they’ve won a series since they took two out of three from the White Sox from April 22 through April 24. They went 0-17-1 after that until ravaging the Tribe.
The Orioles worked over two of the Tribe’s most promising starters. Mike Clevinger allowed seven runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings on Friday. He was just activated from the injured list after twisting his left ankle against Texas on June 17.
It was rookie Zach Plesac’s turn on Saturday. Plesac (3-3, 3.61) allowed seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. He had to face 22 batters to get eight outs. The Orioles scored six runs in the fourth as Anthony Santandar hit a leadoff homer and Denato Nunez hit a two-run homer.
Santandar, the former Tribe farmhand, took forever to circle the bases as his drive landed on Eutaw Street beyond the right field wall. It was the 100th homer to hit the street in front of the Camden Yards warehouse and the 45th by an Oriole.
Plesac hit Hanser Alberto, the next batter, it didn’t register on plate umpire Will Little’s radar and no warnings were issued.
“In some of his starts, he competes so well, but he always throws strikes and gets away with some things,” Francona said of Plesac. “But today he had a tough time. He just didn’t throw it close enough to where it needed to be, and it caught up to him.”
Freeman, making the second big-league pitching appearance in his career, allowed two runs on two hits in two innings.
The Indians and Orioles end their season series on Sunday when Shane Bieber (6-3, 3.83) faces Baltimore’s Gabriel Ynoa (0-5, 6.75). The game will be played at 1:05 p.m. with SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM carrying it.
Bieber threw a five-hit shutout against the Orioles on May 19. He struck out 15 and didn’t walk a batter. Ynoa, 0-4 in his last five starts, is 0-2 with a 6.75 against the Tribe. In two relief appearances against the Indians in May, he allowed eight runs on eight hits in four innings.