Covering the Bases: Game 93


Orioles 10, Indians 2

FIRST: Derek Lowe said he didn’t have much to say, but in saying the few words that he did, the veteran pitcher said it all.

“I really have nothing to say,” Lowe said. “The game speaks for itself. It was an embarrassing game. I have a lot of work to do. You look at the way I started, and the last six weeks, it couldn’t be any different. It’s embarrassing, frustrating, all of the above.”

Lowe started the season on an amazing run, going 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA over his first nine outings, giving up just 14 earned runs on 65 hits over 58 2/3 innings. Regression was expected, don’t get me wrong. Even the Indians expected Lowe to slide a bit back to reality.

“No one here was anticipating him coming in and pitching the way he pitched the first month for sixth months,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.

True, but the slide wasn’t supposed to be this steep.

Lowe surrendered nine runs on seven hits (two home runs, five doubles) in just three innings against the Orioles on Friday. It marked the 20th time since 1918 that a pitcher allowed at least seven hits in an outing, with each of them being an extra-base hit.

Over his past 10 outings, dating back to May 26, Lowe has gone 2-6 with an 8.31 ERA, giving up 48 earned runs on 75 hits over 52 innings. During that span of time, the Indians have gone 21-27 and have dropped from first to third in the division.

On the surface, this seems similar to last September, when Lowe went 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA for the Braves. Over that stretch, Atlanta went 7-16, lost its footing in the playoff chase and watched October baseball from home.

Over the winter, after being acquired by Cleveland in a trade, Lowe found some issues with his mechanics and went to work. Once the Indians got him in camp in the spring, they worked with him on correcting some problems with his pitch distribution.

Right now, Lowe has again been thrown back into the process of searching for the wrongs that he can right.

“You have to put a lot of hard work in,” Lowe said. “You can’t just bury your head in the sand and say, ‘Things will work out.’ You have to spend some time in the video room and really analyze the good and the bad, and try to get back to, obviously  what you’ve been doing good.

“And it’s not just by watching it. You have to put in a lot of time and just break some bad habits. That’s ultimately what I’m doing right now, is the sinker is pretty flat and, as you’ve seen, it’s a lot of bad results.”

SECOND: Johnny Damon might not be known for his arm, but give the man credit for sacrificing his body in an effort to chase down fly balls. He made one of the Tribe’s catches of the year in Detroit, robbing a home run earlier this season.

Damon turned in another highlight-reel defensive gem on Friday.

In the third inning, Nick Markakis sent a pitch from Lowe tailing over left field and into foul ground. Damon gave chase, but ran out of real estate as the ball carried over the side wall. The left fielder jumped and tumbled into the stands, while making an incredible catch.

“When it went up,” Damon said, “it probably was close to being a fair ball. But the way the wind was going today, I definitely had to check and see where the wall was. Fotunately for me, it was the low part of the wall, so I was able to get up and get over it without hurting myself too bad.”

When Damon shifted back to his feet — missing his hat — he made sure to show the ball in his glove to third-base ump Larry Vanover. There was no repeat of the Dewayne Wise “catch” vs. the Tribe on June 26.

Unlike Wise, Damon knew he had the ball.

“But I didn’t know where my hat was,” Damon said with a laugh. “I was worried someone ran off with it.”

THIRD: Damon’s defensive display helped the Indians record their second out in the third inning. A defensive decision by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in the same frame helped the Orioles get their second run of the game.

With one out and Jim Thome on third base, Matt Wieters chopped a pitch up the middle. Cabrera needed to take a few steps to his left to get to the grounder and when he did — rather than taking the sure out at first base — the shortstop tried to cut Thome down at the plate.

The throw was late and Thome was safe.

“We were taking a chance because of Jimmy running at third base,” Acta said. “It was too risky, because [Cabrera] had to move to his left. If it would’ve been probably right at him, or harder, I could’ve seen it, but it was risky. But, that wasn’t the reason why we lost.”

From there, Baltimore blew the game wide open. Wilson Betemit doubled, Chris Davis drew an intentional walk to load the bases, Mark Reynolds doubled home a pair of runs and Ryan Flaherty brought in three more with a home run to right.

HOME: A blowout is often an opportune time to break a rookie relief pitcher into the big leagues. So, with the Tribe facing a seven-run deficit in the fourth inning, Acta opted to hand the ball to 23-year-old righty Cody Allen, who was promoted from Triple-A before the game.

Allen showed off his powerful arm, but it looked like he ran into the ol’ rookie jitters. He walked the first two hitters he faced, before getting out of the inning with a groundout (scoring a run charged to Lowe), a strikeout and another groundout.

Lacking the type of command he’s shown in his Minor League career, Allen threw 30 pitches, but only 16 strikes. He was clocked mainly around 95-96 mph with his fastball, though he hit 97 mph once. His breaking pitches were consistently around 83-84 mph.

Welcome to the bigs, kid.

On deck:

Orioles (49-44) at Indians (47-46)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Saturday at Progressive Field

NOTE: I will be off for the next few days, but keep checking for daily Tribe coverage.


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