First off, if you guessed that this morning’s title was a reference to the Randy Newman song Sail Away (featured in the opening credits of Major League, you’re right! However, the Baltimore Orioles very much “rolled into Cleveland” yesterday afternoon as they defeated the Cleveland Indians 7-2 at Progressive Field. The Orioles got a solid start from Bud Norris, who to this point hasn’t had the ability to go so deep into games (all while pitching well). Norris’ line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Perhaps the most impressive part is that in striking out eight batters (that’s a minimum of 24 pitches right there), Norris left the game after only 92 pitches.
The Orioles appeared poised to touch up Cleveland starter Justin Masterson, however skipper Terry Francona and the team trainer came out to check on Masterson’s health early in the second inning. Masterson somehow convinced them that he was fine, however a few pitches later they came out again, and this time Masterson left the game (with a sore rib cage). That was an early break for the Orioles, and Nate McLouth appeared to take advantage of it when his apparent RBI-single scored Matt Wieters and left two runners in scoring position. However Cleveland appealed to second base, and umpire Mike DiMuro called Nick Markakis out (ruling that he never touched second base). It’s tough to say whether or not he touched the bag because it appeared that no camera caught Markakis running the bases, however upon Buck Showalter‘s protest DiMuro was steadfast. So the play was ruled a fielder’s choice-RBI for McLouth. Following a walk by Alexi Casilla, Brian Roberts cleared the bases with a two-RBI double to give the Birds a 3-0 lead.
Previous to that play Nate McLouth had been mirred in a 1-for-16 slump, so just when it appeared he had busted out of it an official scorer in a visiting ballpark decided to take that hit away from him! However McLouth quickly busted out again, smacking a two-run homer to right center in the top of the fourth. The Orioles suddenly had a 5-0 lead in this first game of an all-important series. Cleveland would mount a bit of a rally in the seventh and eighth with solo homers by Kipnis and Chisenhall, however for the most part the Orioles’ bullpen shut them down. However just to be sure, Matt Wieters decided to add two more on with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to give the Birds a 7-2 lead and thus a 7-2 victory on the shores of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.
For what it’s worth, that was Wieters’ 20th home run of the season. For all the talk about Wieters’ numbers being down at the plate earlier in the season, if your catcher is able to make it to twenty homers you’re getting pretty good offensive production out of him. Obviously he isn’t getting on base as often as last year, however he’s still hitting-for-power. The Orioles will also get some reinforcements today, as Henry Urrutia, Jonathan Schoop, and Josh Stinson will all be given September call-ups today after Norfolk’s season abruptly ended this weekend. Ryan Flaherty will also be re-joining the O’s, however that was already a given.
The series continues tonight as the Birds send Chris Tillman to the mound, ironically in a situation where he doesn’t have to be a stopper for once. It’s worth mentioning that Tillman’s lone poor start last season came at Progressive Field in Cleveland, however he rebounded in his next time out. Tillman will be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez of Cleveland. The Orioles have now won three of their last five games.