CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians used a strong performance on the mound from Adam Plutko to outlast the Baltimore Orioles, 4-1.
Cleveland used a balanced effort on offense Saturday to counter the tough pitching from Baltimore starter John Means. Early on in this one things looked bleak for the Tribe until a Carlos Santana double in the fourth broke up the no hit bid. The next batter, Jordan Luplow hit his fifth home run of the season, giving Cleveland the 2-1 lead.
After Santana’s double, the whole Cleveland offense seemed to relax. The Indians slugger would continue his strong afternoon in the bottom of the eighth inning when his sixth home run of the season gave the Indians a 4-1 lead. The Indians finished with six hits, including two home runs. While Luplow and Santana’s home runs may have been more impactful on the game, it was Oscar Mercado’s double that probably meant the most.
The double came in the fifth inning, and was Mercado’s first hit in the big leagues. In his first start at Progressive Field the Tribe rookie recorded his first hit, scored a run and was walked. The Indians are continuing to find the right mix of guys to play in the outfield, and after today Mercado wants to throw his hat in the mix.
One guy who continues to play well is Luplow, who has hit safely in 10 of the 13 games he has played since being called up from Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland’s offense has been a mixture of guys batting in a variety of places this season, and in two starts at the cleanup spot, Luplow has three home runs and five RBIs.
As Santana got the Tribe offense going, the Baltimore offense struggled throughout the game, only managing one hit. Cleveland’s pitching staff combined to allow only one hit, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since May, 2017.
Luckily for Orioles fans the lone hit was a solo shot by Trey Mancini, his 10th on the season.Adam Plutko made his first start of the season since returning from the disabled list. Plutko gave the Indians the exact type of start they needed, as the pitching staff is banged up. The one hit given up by Plutko marked the fewest hits he’s ever given up as a starting pitcher, while he has now given up one run or fewer twice as a starter.
Through the first two games of the series the Baltimore offense had scored seven and five runs respectively, but Plutko was able to keep them in check Saturday. Oliver Perez was the first Tribe pitcher to come out of the bullpen and he was able to continue making things difficult for the Orioles offense. Before turning things over to Brad Hand, Indians skipper Terry Francona elected to bring in Adam Cimber, who allowed one walk while also recording one out.
On the day thousands of Tribe fans were wearing his jersey, Brad Hand delivered a four out save. Hand through 17 pitches and struck out two, as the Baltimore offense failed to make things interesting late. After the game Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde accredited the Indians pitching staff for making things difficult.