Derek Lowe labored through the worst outing of his career Friday night while the Indians managed just a pair of solo home runs against Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez as the Orioles routed Cleveland, 10-2, to kick off a four-game series at Progressive Field. The loss drops the Tribe’s record to a precarious 47-46, while the Tigers’ 4-2 win over the White Sox kept Cleveland three games back in the AL Central.
It didn’t take long for the O’s to get to Lowe. J.J. Hardy got Baltimore’s bats going with a one-out double in the top of the first. Former Indian Jim Thome moved Hardy to third with a groundout to first before Lowe’s wild pitch to Adam Jones brought him home. Luckily the lead wouldn’t last long as Asdrubal Cabrera ripped Gonzalez’ sixth pitch of the game over the fence for a solo home run. Though the Indians wasted a bases-loaded situation later in the frame, Cabrera’s long ball at least tied the game at 1-1.
Neither team did much in the second, but the Orioles came alive against Lowe in the third. Thome led off with a double and scored on Matt Wieters‘ effective infield single. A Wilson Betemit double and an intentional walk of Chris Davis loaded the bases for Mark Reynolds, who delivered with a two-run double. Three pitches later, Ryan Flaherty capped the rally with a three-run homer to put Baltimore ahead 9-1.
Thome led off the fourth with a home run before a four-pitch walk to Jones sent Lowe to the showers, and in his MLB debut Cody Allen then walked the bases loaded and Jones scored on Davis’ RBI fielder’s choice. Adam Jones doubled off Esmil Rogers in the sixth and came home after a pair of groundouts to make it 10-1 Baltimore, but Joe Smith, Tony Sipp, and Chris Perez managed to shut the O’s down over the final three frames.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ bats stayed quiet until the seventh, when Jack Hannahan hit a two-out solo homer. But that was all the Tribe could muster as Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg closed the door on a 10-2 Baltimore blowout.
The Good: You wouldn’t know it from the final, but we actually saw several encouraging offensive performances from the Indians. Asdrubal Cabrera and Jack Hannahan both homered—good to see given their recent slumps—while Johnny Damon went 3-for-4 and Shin-Soo Choo got two hits, including a double.
We also got to welcome Cody Allen to the big leagues! Though he struggled a bit in his MLB debut—the 24-year-old right-hander got a strikeout but gave up two walks and allowed an inherited runner to score in one inning pitched—it was good to see him in the majors.
And, of course, we got to see Jim Thome again. That’s always a treat, even when he’s hitting home runs for the other team.
The Bad: The best way I can think of describe Derek Lowe’s outing is “miserable.” He gave up nine runs (all earned) on seven hits in just three-plus innings, walking five without striking out a batter. It’s not hyperbole to say that this was probably the single worst outing of his distinguished 16-year career.
Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Cleveland hitters once again failed to deliver in key situations. Thirteen men reached base for the Indians Friday night (nine hits, two walks, two HBPs), yet the only two runs they scored were via solo home runs.
The “Huh?”: Jose Lopez entered the game in place of Asdrubal Cabrera in the top of the seventh, meaning Jack Hannahan shifted over to shortstop. This wasn’t the first time he’s been there this year (he’d played four innings at short in 2012 before Friday), but it’s still odd to see him at short.
Interesting Tidbit: Lowe tied a personal worst Friday night by allowing nine earned runs in a game; it was the first time he’d given up more than eight in over six years.