Zach McAllister turned in a great start and the Indians actually scored some runs against a lefty as the Tribe kicked off a four-game series in Baltimore by beating Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles, 7-2. The win snaps the Indians’ five-game losing streak and improves their record to 38-37.
Cleveland’s bats got going in the top of the second. Jose Lopez led off with a single and Michael Brantley worked a walk off Chen before Johnny Damon took him yard for a three-run homer. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a solo shot in the fifth to give the Indians a commanding 4-0 lead halfway through the game.
Baltimore finally responded in the bottom of the fifth. Ryan Flaherty started off with a single to give the Orioles their first leadoff baserunner of the game. McAllister then got Brian Roberts to fly out and fanned Xavier Avery, but it wasn’t enough to get him off the hook as J.J. Hardy took him deep for a two-run homer. It was the only time the O’s scored Thursday night.
The Indians added three more in the seventh via an Asdrubal Cabrera three-run big fly; they failed to take advantage of a bases-loaded situation in the eighth and moving runners to the corners in the ninth, but the three homers proved more than enough as Joe Smith and Esmil Rogers closed it out for a 7-2 win.
The Good: We hit a lefty! After months of hearing about the Tribe hitters’ alleged inability to hit southpaws, they knocked Wei-Yin Chen for six runs (all earned) on six hits, working three walks while seeing strike three only thrice. That we saw three balls off Clevelanders’ bats leave the yard was another good sign.
On the other side of the ball, how about Zach McAllister? He held a pretty good lineup to just two runs on seven hits across 5.2 strong innings, striking out six while allowing only one free pass. Through five MLB outings this year his K/9 is up to an impressive 8.2 while no one else in the rotation has even hit seven.
The Bad: This is nitpicking, but the Indians had 17 baserunners Thursday night—nine hits, seven walks, and a hit-by-pitch—but only seven of them came around to score. In light of recent games it sounds ridiculous to refer to “only seven” runs, but in the context of 17 baserunners that really isn’t very impressive.
The “Huh?”: What is with Baltimore’s batting order? Leadoff hitter Brian Roberts is hitting .196 with no extra-base hits after missing the first two months of the season. No. 2 man Xavier Avery (73 wRC+) and No. 3 batters J.J. Hardy (84 wRC+) are both clearly below-average hitters. Meanwhile, everyone from No. 4 through No. 8 had a 98 wRC+ or better—i.e., they’re solid hitters or better. Why are the Orioles giving so many plate appearances to their worst bats?
Interesting Tidbit: The Indians managed to snap their losing streak at five games. The last time they suffered a losing streak longer than that was a seven-game skid from June 19-26, 2010, during an interleague road trip. The Tribe got swept in a three-game set in Philadelphia, bookended by pairs of losses to the Pirates and Reds.