Covering the Bases: Game 76

Final:

Orioles 9, Indians 8

FIRST: Indians sinkerballer Derek Lowe has thrown 1,577 pitches this season. He called his sixth-inning sinker to Matt Wieters on Friday night his most frustrating offering of the year.

“Awful choice,” Lowe said. “It cost us the game.”

With one out and two runners aboard in the sixth, and Cleveland clinging to a 5-4 lead, Lowe opted for a first-pitch sinker to the left-handed-hitting Wieters. It was a mistake and the Baltimore catcher let Lowe know by sending it sailing out of Camden Yards and on to Eutaw St.

Lowe said he was going with a gut feeling, but in hindsight — and in the moment — he should have tried to make Wieters beat him to the opposite field. Lowe said lefties especially have an easier time just “dropping the head” of the bat on the two-seamer and making contact.

Wieters’ blast turned a 5-4 Indians lead into a 7-5 Orioles lead.

“I take full responsibility for this game,” Lowe said. “That was the dumbest pitch that I’ve thrown in a long time — to Wieters — and it was my call. You just can’t get beat in. Even though it wasn’t technically late in the game, obviously, I think everybody is fatigued on both sides because of the heat.

“It was my call to throw a sinker inside. You’ve got to make the guy hit the ball the other way. It was probably the single most frustrating pitch that I’ve thrown all year. You think you would know better, but it was very maddening.”

Funny, but sometimes, even in a game that saw 17 runs score on 26 hits, one pitch can be the turning point.

SECOND: All things considered, it wasn’t an awful performance by Lowe. Was it great? No. But he was bit by some bad luck in the first inning and obviously he made a critical error against Wieters in the sixth. Consider, though, that Lowe had a 22-hitter stretch between the first and sixth in which he limited Baltimore to one earned run on three hits with 13 outs via grounders.

Indians manager Manny Acta was quick to come to Lowe’s defense.

“Derek threw the ball very well,” Acta said.

Mistakes are mistakes, however, and even one great run within the game can’t hide the fact that Lowe was charged with seven runs (four earned) in his 5 1/3 innings. He picked up a no-decision, but it’s the third time in his past five starts that Lowe has given up seven runs (earned or otherwise).

Over his past eight outings, Lowe has gone 1-5 with a 7.33 ERA, giving up 38 runs (35 earned) on 60 hits in 43 innings. In his previous eight starts — to open the season — Lowe went 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA, giving up 14 runs (12 earned) on 59 hits across 52 2/3 innings.

THIRD: A poor tone was set one hitter into the bottom of the first inning, when Brian Roberts chopped a pitch down the first-base line. First baseman Casey Kotchman made a great lunging play to grab the ball, but then he threw wildly to Lowe at first for an error.

Roberts then moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third base on a groundout. He scored when shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had a two-hopper glance off his glove for a fielding blunder that allowed J.J. Hardy to reach base. Adam Jones then chopped a pitch in front of the mound for an infield single.

It was some terrible luck that helped the Orioles grab a quick 3-0 lead.

HOME: But… how about that offense?!

The Indians poured out eight runs on 16 hits and finished the night 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Asdrubal Cabrera hit his second homer in as many games, sending a pitch — like Wieters — out of the stadium to Eutaw St. Shin-Soo Choo was 3-for-5, so was Kipnis, and Cabrera, Kotchman and Shelley Duncan each added two hits.

Alas, it all came in a loss.

Remember the first 44 innings of this road trip, though? Over that brutal stretch, Cleveland hit .176 (26-for-149) as a team with a .100 (3-for-30) mark with RISP and just five total runs scored. In the 28 innings since? The Tribe has hit .316 (37-for-117) with a .325 (13-for-40) mark with RISP and 23 runs scored.

EXTRA INNINGS: Cleveland had some injury added to insult on this evening. In the fifth inning, young third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was hit on the right forearm with a pitch from Orioles lefty Troy Patton. Chisenhall suffered a fractured right ulna bone and will require surgery. He’s expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks.

On deck:

Indians (38-38) at Orioles (42-34)
at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday at Camden Yards

–JB

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