Command issues came back to haunt Triston McKenzie and the Cleveland Guardians’ lineup couldn’t complete a late inning rally against the Orioles’ bullpen in a 5-4 loss to Baltimore.
The game looked to be a home run derby early, as Jose Ramirez and Trey Mancini traded solo home runs in the first inning. Andre Gimenez got hold of a fastball in the second inning and sent it packing to Eutaw Street, slugging a 418-foot home run to give the Guardians a 2-1 lead.
McKenzie’s fatal mistake would come in the third inning. With one out, he walked Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini before getting Anthony Santander to fly out. Unfortunately, McKenzie hung a slider to Austin Hays and he deposited it into the left field bleachers for a three-run homer, making it 4-2 in favor of the Orioles. Rougned Odor added another insurance run in the fourth inning with a leadoff homer.
The thing is, McKenzie retired the next 12 batters he faced after surrendering the solo home run to Odor. He only allowed three hits over seven innings of work. Unfortunately all three hits were home runs and one came with two men on base, both of whom reached on walks.
The Guardians clawed their way back into the game in the fifth inning. Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde made the decision to go to his bullpen after only four innings of starter Tyler Wells. With left-hander Keegan Akin on in relief, Oscar Gonzalez and Andres Gimenez reached on back-to-back singles before Akin walked Luke Maile to load the bases. Steven Kwan then grounded into a fielder’s choice that allowed Gonzalez to score. Myles Straw followed with an RBI groundout, though it could have been an inning-ending double play after Kwan nearly ran into a tag.
But a 5-4 deficit was as close as Cleveland could cut it. They had a chance to tie the game and even take the lead in the eighth inning but squandered the opportunity. Kwan hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a flyout by Straw. Amed Rosario came to the plate and did what he does, striking out swinging. The Orioles intentionally walked Ramirez but then struck Owen Miller with a pitch to load the bases and bring Josh Naylor to the plate with two outs. Naylor had a competitive at-bat, taking it to a 3-2 count, but flied out to center field to end the inning.