BALTIMORE: The Indians don’t have the kind of firepower to win many slugfests. And since the Tribe and Baltimore Orioles weren’t playing horseshoes, coming close didn’t count.
But there were different ways to dissect the 9-8 loss at Camden Yards. The Indians scored enough runs to win most games, but gifted the Orioles with three runs in the first inning. Moreover, the pitching was hardly flawless, and the offense — in amassing 16 hits — was not a model of efficiency.
“We swung the bats well; obviously we scored enough runs to give us a chance,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “But there are 27 outs, and every one of them is precious. Basically, the first inning cost us. The first four guys beat the ball in the dirt, and we got one out.”
The loss forced the Tribe’s record back to .500; worse, Lonnie Chisenhall was hit on the right wrist with a Troy Patton pitch in the fifth inning and suffered a fractured ulna bone.
“We had a bad feeling about it when he came out of the game,” Acta said. “The sound was not good. They will stabilize the bone and he’ll probably be out four to six weeks.”
Chisenhall will return to Cleveland and undergo surgery next week.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead, then spent the rest of the game alternating between coming from behind, holding a lead, rallying from arrears again until — they found themselves in a 7-7 tie in the seventh inning.
Rallying from a 7-5 deficit against side-arming right-hander Darren O’Day, Casey Kotchman led off the inning with a double, scored on a double by Shelley Duncan, who took third on a single by Jack Hannahan. So even though Lou Marson bounced into a double play, Duncan scored the tying run.
But the score didn’t stay tied for long. The key hit in the Orioles’ abbreviated rally in the seventh was Chris Davis’ two-out bloop single off Joe Smith. Or maybe the key at-bat belonged to Matt Wieters, who coaxed a walk from Smith to move Davis into scoring position. Of course, the Orioles wouldn’t have scored without Ryan Flaherty’s RBI single.
And in the eighth, Chris Perez gave up a one-out home run to Xavier Avery for the Orioles’ final run.
“We battled them until the end,” Acta said. “We just came up short.”
All of the rallying finally took its toll, and the Indians went quietly in the eighth and scored one in the ninth on Shin-Soo Choo’s RBI single. But earlier in the game, Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo homer in the third inning cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2. Jason Kipnis’ two-run single plus a bases-loaded walk to Choo proved instrumental in erasing the Orioles’ advantage in the fourth altogether.
Unfortunately for Derek Lowe, he was standing on the mound when the Orioles came to the plate in the first inning. Of course, that is his assigned station, inasmuch as he is a starting pitcher.
Nevertheless, it was not the cool place to be. Why not? It was too close to the action, which consisted mostly of a gruesome display of bad defense. Kotchman made one error, Cabrera committed another and Lowe himself failed to get an out at first on a mishit ground ball to the left of the mound that was ruled a single.
“They scored it a hit, but that’s probably a play we should make,” Acta said.
All of this plus an RBI double by Wilson Betemit added up to three unearned runs, putting the Tribe in an immediate two-run hole.
Lowe said the loss belonged to him, regardless of what transpired in the first inning.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Lowe said. “I take full responsibility for this game. That was the dumbest pitch I’ve thrown in a long time, the one to Wieters.”
Lowe righted the ship soon enough, giving up only one more run through the fifth, mostly because he walked Robert Andino leading off the inning.
But in the sixth, Lowe gave up three consecutive one-out hits, the final one a first-pitch drive that sailed far over the fence in left for Wieters’ 11th home run of the season, giving the Orioles a 7-5 advantage.
“That probably was the single most frustrating pitch I’ve thrown all year,” Lowe said. “He [pitching coach Scott Radinsky] came out and asked what I wanted to do, and I told him go inside with a sinker. So it was 100 percent my choice.”
Lowe made the pitch he wanted, the way he wanted to make it, but it was the wrong pitch.
“I should have gone outside and let him try and beat me there,” he said.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.