The old saying goes "defense wins championships" and last night was a perfect example of how poor defense can come back to bite you as both the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians had a poor stretch defensively that allowed both teams to score and ultimately wound up playing 13 innings because of it. The Indians used a two run double by Carlos Santana in the 13th to pull out a 8-7 victory Thursday Night.
Baltimore's offense had offense finally got going in the bottom of the sixth. Trailing 3-0, the Indians gave Adam Jones and the Orioles a break when Michael Bourn and David Murphy had some miscommunication on a fly ball to right center field that dropped in for a one out double that should have been caught and Jones scored three batters later on a two out RBI single by Steve Clevenger. Clevenger would have never came up if Jones' ball was caught as Indians starter Justin Masterson struck out Chris Davis for the second out right after Jones' double, which the strikeout would have been the third out. Not only would have Clevenger not come up, but neither would have JJ Hardy who delivered a RBI single or Ryan Flaherty who followed with a three run home run to cap off a five run inning for the Birds.
The Orioles returned the favor however, as Flaherty, who was a hero for half an inning, all of the sudden became the goat in the seventh as he had a complete mental miscue on a potential inning ending double play groundball that tipped off his glove, when he had to business trying to field it, and that put runners on the corners with one out and the O's up 5-3. Murphy then hit a tailor made double play ball to Flaherty that he bobbled and thus had to settle for just one out at first and allowed a run to score. Mike Aviles then followed with a game tying RBI single, despite the fact that Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen had essentially gotten five outs already in the inning. The inning could have ended a lot worse if not for a spectacular play by David Lough in left field to rob Asdrubal Cabrera of a three run home run to end the inning tied at five.
Poor defense continued in the bottom of the seventh as Cleveland proceeded to make two fielding errors to begin the inning and Nelson Cruz eventually gave the Orioles a brief 6-5 lead with a sacrifice fly as the Orioles scored a run without the use of a hit in the inning.
All told, there were only two errors on the scoreboard once the game was over, but there were easily 5-7 plays that were defensive miscues that caused the score to look the way it did, including the final line for Chen as he had a solid outing, but the line looks bad due to the poor defense as he tossed 6 2/3 innings, while allowing five runs on eight hits, zero walks and he struck out one.
Leading 6-5 in the eighth, Darren O'Day came on to relieve Brian Matusz with one out and pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall crushed a solo home run to right field to tie the game.
Neither team would score again until the 13th inning when Santana hit the two run double off of Troy Patton to give the Indians a 8-6 lead, but Baltimore would get within one after Nick Markakis delivered his third home run of the season, a one out solo homer, but that is all the Orioles would muster.
Both teams struggled with runners in scoring position as the Orioles went 3-12 and left 11 men on base, while the Indians were 2-9 and left seven men on base.
Markakis, Jones, Hardy and Flaherty all had multi-hit games for the Birds. The biggest downer of the evening was when Manny Machado was pulled from the game in the 12th inning with groin stiffness, although Manager Buck Showalter said after the game that it was precautionary and if it were up to Machado he would have stayed in the game. Machado will get re-evaluated today, but it did not sound serious.
Baltimore will look to even the series tonight as they send Bud Norris (2-4) to the mound to square off against Indians rookie T.J. House (0-0) who will be making his first MLB start. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
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