CLEVELAND – Hitting with runners in scoring position is an integral part of maintaining a winning streak.
Despite timely at-bats in the early stages, the Indians fell short when they needed it most, losing 6-5 to the Orioles on Tuesday night from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Josh Tomlin surrendered a trio of home runs, Bryan Shaw gave up the go-ahead score and Yan Gomes left seven of the team’s 11 men on base in the hard-fought effort.
The end of Cleveland’s six-game winning streak did not halt Jose Ramirez, who extended his hitting streak to eight games, all of which have been multi-hit performances. Kenny Lofton was the last player in franchise history to achieve the feat, doing so from June 12-20 in 1996.
Encarnacion finds second deck; Tillman rocked
The hitter-friendly conditions of Camden Yards played in favor of both offenses as Edwin Encarnacion smashed a two-run blast to the second deck before Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop hit a pair of solo shots to even the score at 2-2.
“(I’m) glad that Ramirez, Encarnacion and the pitching staff are doing very well,” said Francisco Lindor to reporters. “That’s taken us through the whole month.”
Two-out hitting separated the road nine from their competition when Austin Jackson laced an RBI single and Lindor plugged the gap for a two-run double off the inefficient Chris Tillman – 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R/ER, 3 BB, 0 K (94 pitches, 54 strikes, 57.4%, four groundouts, three flyouts).
“You could tell [Lindor] was trying to hit the ball the other way,” Francona said. “The at-bat where he hit the double, he fouled off a bunch of pitches to stay alive ’till he could get a pitch he could handle. I thought there was a lot of progress there.”
Tomlin unable to keep lead intact; Machado stays hot
Even though he retired nine of 11 opposing hitters after Schoop’s home run, Tomlin eventually surrendered four consecutive base hits, including a game-tying three-run homer off the bat of the sizzling Machado.
“The three-run homer really hurt us,” said Francona. “Machado kind of took some good swings all night. I know his batting isn’t where he’s used to it, but he’s still really dangerous, as he showed.”
Tomlin had mutual feelings for the home run, a no-doubter to left field.
“I was trying to execute (the) cutter down and away,” Tomlin said. “It just didn’t cut.”
“That’s a really good hitter. You make mistakes to a guy like that in those situations and they can put a crooked number up and change the game.”
The tightly contested clash unraveled further when Shaw allowed a pair of doubles to Machado and Adam Jones, handing the Tribe their first deficit since Saturday.
“[Shaw] actually got ahead and probably tried to leave the strike zone a little bit,” said Francona. “Sometimes there’s not much between good and bad. And then Adam Jones with a nice piece of hitting, taking the ball the other way.”
Gomes could not muster any magic in the late innings, striking out with the bases loaded in the seven before flying out with runners on the corners in the ninth.
“We got a chance to win in the ninth,” Francona said. “We went down fighting. We made some mistakes, but we’ll show up tomorrow and see if we can do a little better.”
The second half of the series begins on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 3.21) is coming off his best performance in over a month, throwing 6.1 innings of one-run ball last Friday in Minnesota. The 30-year-old right-hander did not earn his eighth win until August 12 this past season.
RHP Kevin Gausman (3-6, 6.60) will look to put a dreadful start to June in the rearview mirror, a month where opposing hitters are batting .391 with three home runs. The former fourth overall pick out of LSU is averaging 95.04-mph on his four-seam fastball despite the recent troubles.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.