CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Indians could have used a couple more innings out of the last remaining member of their opening day rotation.
As it was, Aaron Civale gave them five the hard way. It was enough, thanks in part to Jose Ramirez’s wild trip to third base and another strong performance by the hardest-working bullpen in show business.
The Indians, powered by late-inning heat from James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase, beat the Orioles, 8-7, Wednesday night at Progressive Field. They have won five of their last six games, while the Orioles have lost seven straight to extend their franchise-record losing streak on the road to 18 games.
Cesar Hernandez’s triple gave the the Indians an 8-5 lead in the sixth inning and Bryan Shaw, Karinchak and Clase made it stand over the last three innings. Karinchak and Clase were pitching for the third time in as many days. Karinchak retired the side in order in the eighth. Ditto for Clase in the ninth. He earned his 11th save in 12 chances.
“There is a lot of trust when they tell us they’re OK,” said Indians manager Terry Francona when asked about using Karinchak and Clase three days in a row. “There are days when we feel like we need to step in like Thursday. Fortunately, both of them had short innings.”
The Orioles, swinging early in the count against Civale (10-2, 3.48), took a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by Freddy Galvis and Ryan Mountcastle.
Jose Ramirez made it 2-1 in the first with his 15th homer, a drive down the left field line off Keegan Akin. It was just his third homer against a lefty this season.
The Orioles stretched their lead to 3-1 in the third on another RBI single by Mountcastle following a leadoff double by Trey Mancini.
The Indians answered with a five-run third to take a 6-3 lead. It was highlighted by Ramirez’s wild journey to third base following his two-run single that gave the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Bradley Zimmer started the inning with a single. Akin (0-2, 5.76) walked Hernandez, and Amed Rosario singled to left to score Zimmer and move Hernandez to third. Amed Rosario continued to second on left fielder DJ Stewart’s throwing error.
Ramirez delivered them with a single to right field, which started his trip to third. Ramirez took a wide turn around first to draw the throw and make sure the runs scored. Mancini came over from first base to cut off the throw from right field and threw to Galvis to try and stop Ramirez from getting to second base. Ramirez reversed field and headed back to first as Galvis flipped to second baseman Pat Valaika. Ramirez stopped again and headed back to second, which was unmanned.
Third baseman Maikel Franco was late covering second and Galvis was caught between first and second. Valaika could have waited for Franco to get to second and stopped Ramirez there, but for some reason he flipped the ball to Galvis, who had already been left in the dust by Ramirez. After Ramirez slid headfirst into second, he bounced up and headed to third, which was left unguarded because Franco had come over to cover second.
Catcher Pedro Severino came down the line to cover third, but the sliding Ramirez easily beat him to the bag after almost stumbling halfway between second and third.
Harold Ramirez and Eddie Rosario followed with consecutive doubles to complete the five-run inning and give the Indians a 6-3 lead.
“I’m not sure Jose should have been going to second,” said Francona. “He might have gotten a little carried away there, but once that happened his clock in incredible. First of all, for him to have the wherewithal to get out of the rundown and to be thinking that clearly that third base was unoccupied, to me, is incredible.
“Then the fact that he almost fell made it perfect.”
Said Eddie Rosario, “That’s a good moment. He’s fun to watch. He hustled. It’s good for the team and for the fans. I feel happy for him.”
Rosario thought Ramirez might take a header between second and third. “He was close (to falling). I was like, ‘OHHH.’ But he made the play. He’s good.”
But on this night, the 6-3 lead wasn’t big enough for Civale. He pitched through the fourth, but Mountcastle hurt him with a two-out homer in the fifth to make it a 6-5 game. It was Mountcastle’s third homer of the season against the Indians and his fourth RBI of the game.
Civale allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked two.
“A lot of the contact tonight was on pitches out of the zone,” said Civale. “Anytime a team is doing that it makes it difficult to throw pitches where I want to. I don’t think the execution to get there was my best. That’s where the frustration comes in.”
The Indians finally got Akin out of the game in the sixth when Rene Rivera walked and Zimmer singled with two out. Hunter Harvey relieved and Hernandez greeted him with a triple past first base into the right field corner that scored Rivera and Zimmer for a 8-5 lead.
Bryan Shaw relieved Nick Sandlin, who pitched a scoreless sixth, to start the seventh. Shaw should have been out of the inning with no damage, but the Indians failed to turn a double play, which led to two runs. Galvis opened the inning with a single, but Mountcastle struck out. Stewart sent a double play ball to Hernandez at second. His throw to Ramirez, who was covering the bag, was offline and caught by Amed Rosario as Galvis went to third and Stewart was safe at first
“Cesar was just wide right with his throw,” said Francona. “Thankfully, Amed was right there.”
Consecutive singles by Austin Hays and Franco scored both runs to make it 8-7. Shaw came back to end the inning with two strikeouts.
Next: The Indians will start RHP Eli Morgan (0-1, 20.25) in Thursday’s season finale against the Orioles at 1:10 p.m. The Orioles will start RHP Jorge Lopez (2-7, 5.64). Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM, WMMS and the Indians radio network will carry the game.
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
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