CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor remained in the batter's box for several seconds before letting the latest defeat sink in. The Indians' shortstop stared at the ground and swiped some dirt off the plate with his foot, while the Orioles headed to the middle of the infield for the traditional post-victory
CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor remained in the batter's box for several seconds before letting the latest defeat sink in. The Indians' shortstop stared at the ground and swiped some dirt off the plate with his foot, while the Orioles headed to the middle of the infield for the traditional post-victory handshake line.
Cleveland displayed plenty of heart in Sunday's 6-4 loss to Baltimore, but the club came up short when presented with a handful of chances to retake the lead in the eighth and ninth innings. The Indians had six baserunners in the last two frames, but none crossed the plate. Lindor's three-pitch strikeout in the ninth ended that run of missed opportunities.
"Those are hard games to win," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But somebody will whack one, and we'll have a walk-off if we keep doing stuff like that."
After falling into a 4-0 hole early on, Carlos Santana hit one into the right-field seats in the fourth inning to ignite Cleveland's comeback bid. Three batters later, Mike Napoli whacked one, too. The first baseman launched a two-run shot over Progressive Field's 19-foot wall in left for his team-leading 10th home run of the season. In the sixth, Jason Kipnis smashed a leadoff shot to right to pull the game into a 4-4 tie.
A hiccup by Cleveland's bullpen -- Hyun Soo Kim belted his first career homer off Jeff Manship in the seventh -- put the Indians down, 5-4, by the eighth inning. Kipnis opened the home half of the frame with a single and Lindor followed with a double to the wall in right. That prompted Orioles manager Buck Showalter to hand the ball to sidearmer Darren O'Day.
"He is really good," Francona said of the reliever.
After inducing a groundout off the bat of Napoli, O'Day opted to intentionally walk Jose Ramirez (1.097 OPS with runners in scoring position) to load the bases. At that juncture, Francona called upon the lefty-swinging Lonnie Chisenhall as a pinch-hitter. Chisenhall had a home run in his career against O'Day and headed into the day with an .810 OPS in his previous 15 games.
Chisenhall and O'Day then locked horns for a nine-pitch battle with the game on the line.
"Chisenhall's had some luck against him," Showalter said. "I like Darren against anyone, but it was cat and mouse."
O'Day fed Chisenhall a steady stream of fastballs, elevating the heaters and staying mostly up and in against the Cleveland outfielder. Chisenhall fought back with six consecutive foul balls before the right-hander fired a slider to the outside part of the plate, locking the outfielder up for a called third strike.
"He kept pounding me in, pounding me in, close enough. I couldn't take it," Chisenhall said. "I kept fouling it off, and he ended up freezing me. I know it caught enough of the plate. I was frustrated with myself. It was the kind of a pitch I like to hit off of guys like that. Even after throwing five or six in like that, he just got me. It's a real tough at-bat. It's a good situation to score some runs. I felt good against him, and he won."
Yan Gomes then struck out, allowing O'Day to escape the eighth unscathed.
One frame later, Marlon Byrd and Rajai Davis opened with back-to-back singles off Orioles closer Zach Britton. The lefty generated a groundout off the bat of Santana, and then struck out Kipnis and Lindor to send the Tribe to a series loss.
"We've done a great job of fighting back," Chisenhall said. "It's fun to have runs on the board and be playing for something in the eighth or ninth inning. ... We're getting guys on base and making people nervous. That's all you can ask for."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.