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Fan interference gifts Orioles go-ahead home run as Cleveland stumbles late

Scoring more than one run would have been nice

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Two fans prevented Eddie Rosario from making a catch at the wall in left field in the seventh inning, gifting the Baltimore Orioles a go-ahead two-run homer after the replay crew shrugged their shoulders and went back to playing solitaire. The home run should have been ruled an out, but Cleveland also did themselves no favors at the plate in a 3-1 loss.

J.C. Mejía was solid in his first big league start. He was only stretched out to 50 pitches, so he hit the showers after only three innings for Cleveland. But most importantly, Mejía delivered three scoreless innings, only allowing one hit and one walk. He notched a pair of strikeouts and otherwise kept the Orioles on the ground, capping his night in the third inning with a sinker to Trey Mancini that turned into an inning-ending double play.

Unfortunately, Cleveland’s lineup rolled over for Baltimore starting pitcher Keegan Akin, who owes the team a debt of gratitude for producing his best outing of the season. Akin was making his second start of the year, having previously served as a long reliever. He left plenty over the plate but no one seemed capable of barreling them up, fouling them off rather than putting them in play. Cleveland scattered three hits and a walk over the first three innings before Akin was able to retire the last six batters he faced. He pitched five scoreless innings and recorded four strikeouts.

Thankfully, Hunter Harvey’s four-seam fastball was not nearly as intimidating to Cleveland’s lineup as Akin’s. After Harvey took the mound to start the sixth inning, José Ramírez squeezed a one-out single through the shift before coming around to score on an RBI triple courtesy of Harold Ramirez. Cleveland took a 1-0 lead but Harold was left stranded at third.

That was all the offensive output Cleveland could muster, though.

Cleveland’s bullpen initially appeared to be up to the task of keeping the Orioles off the board. Phil Maton retired all six of the batters he faced in relief of Mejía, and Nick Sandlin followed suit with a three-up, three-down sixth inning. But then Bryan Shaw took over in the seventh and walked the leadoff hitter. He managed to get one out on a fielder’s choice before surrendering a fan-assisted “home run” to Ryan Mountcastle to give the Orioles the lead.

Immediately after losing the lead, Cleveland came out and swung at nearly everything. I’m not even kidding. Orioles reliever Tanner Scott struck out the side in the eighth inning on 10 pitches, five of which were swinging strikes, with one foul ball. Only three of his 10 pitches were actually in the strike zone. Worse, it was against the heart of the lineup, with Amed Rosario, José Ramírez, and Harold Ramirez accounting for the trio of strikeouts.

The nail in the coffin came in the bottom of the eighth, courtesy of Nick Wittgren. He gave up three consecutive singles, loading the bases to start the inning. Baltimore managed to score one on a sac fly, extending their lead to 3-1, before an inning-ending double play prevented further damage. But that was all the damage they needed against Cleveland’s anemic offense.

Cleveland managed to put runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth thanks to an Eddie Rosario leadoff single and a two-out single by pinch hitter Yu Chang, but Bradley Zimmer grounded out to end the game.