Melky mashes slam as Tribe cruises to victory

Clevinger strikes out 7 across 6 scoreless frames to earn win

August 19th, 2018

CLEVELAND -- It didn't take very long for the Indians' offense to solve Orioles starter Yefry Ramirez.

The Tribe (71-52) was able to push across two runs in the first two innings before a six-run fourth inning pushed Ramirez (1-5) out of the game, cruising to an 8-0 victory Sunday at Progressive Field behind another solid start from starter Mike Clevinger, which secured the rubber game.

"It was an all-around team effort," outfielder said. "Not only today, but in the past few games and the past few series."

capped off the Tribe's fourth-inning rally with his fourth career grand slam. In the absence of and -- each recovering from various ailments -- key offensive contributions from recent Minor League callups Allen and helped perk up the bats of a lineup that scored four runs against the O's in the first two games of the series.

Manager Terry Francona said he was even more pleased with Allen's day, given that he moved the outfielder to the leadoff spot to give shortstop the day off.

"It's a fun day," Francona said. "I mean, you set out to win, but when you do it maybe in a different way, you can give Frankie a day off and Greg slides into the leadoff spot and contributes in a number of ways. Yandy, swinging the bat the way he has, Melky with the big hit.

"It helps, not just for the win, but it helps your roster. It helps everybody feel like they're doing something."

Allen finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games, while Diaz went 1-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a pair of RBIs. provided the only other run, scoring with a double in the fourth.

"Their offense is top tier, they have great starting pitching, and they play great defense," said Orioles designated hitter , who finished the series 2-for-11. "There's a number of things to say about them. They've got it going on."

Clevinger (9-7) held Baltimore scoreless across six innings, striking out seven, walking one and allowing seven his while improving to 4-0 career against the O's, lowering his ERA against the American League East foe to 1.80 in five starts.

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Clevinger, however, needed to get through two first-and-third jams and allowed the leadoff man to reach in each of the first four innings.

"Out of the stretch he was pretty good," Francona said of his starter. "He threw his breaking ball. I thought [catcher ] did a really good job of putting him in rhythms or patterns and mixing up his pitches."

Allen's hitting streak is the longest of any American League rookie this season, and also ties the Reds' for the longest in baseball by a first-year player. Dating back to July 15, when Allen's streak began, he's hitting .386 (17-for-44) with three RBIs and 10 runs scored. Diaz entered Sunday hitting .444 with a .556 slugging percentage and a 1.020 OPS.

"He's been doing a much better job of staying on balls, where earlier he was chasing balls down out of the zone," Francona said of Allen. "He's now either laying off or hitting the ball to left field or wherever and keeping the ball on a line, so he's giving himself a chance."

Ramirez was taxed for seven runs in three-plus innings, as he gave up seven hits and walked five. Ramirez allowed all five batters he faced in the fourth to reach and was pulled for lefty , who gave up the home run to Cabrera. Gilmartin gave up an additional hit to , but Baltimore's bullpen held the Tribe hitless the rest of the way.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Clevinger's pick

Clevinger escaped a first-inning jam without allowing any damage, despite dealing with runners at first and third with one out. Cedric Mullins led off the game with a double and moved to third on a one out single from , putting runners at the corners. With Trumbo hitting, Clevinger swiftly picked Villar off at first mid at-bat, marking his fifth pickoff of '18. Clevinger struck out Trumbo, stranding Mullins at third.

"It was big," Clevinger said. "It stops the momentum a lot. Especially looking for a ground ball with one out and a guy on third. Getting a pickoff not only puts the momentum in our favor, but then you've got two outs and a fly ball gets you out of the inning versus turning into a sac fly."

Melk-man delivers

The Tribe put up six runs in the fourth, but the exclamation point was Cabrera's grand slam over the left-field wall to break the game open for an 8-0 lead. Ramirez departed with the bases loaded, after allowing a run-scoring double to Brantley and walking Diaz to force in a run. Gilmartin entered, and was beat on a 1-1, 89.1 mph two-seamer that was left high and inside. According to Statcast™, the slam left with a 24 degree launch angle and a 103.6 mph exit velocity.

All four of Cabrera's home runs this season have come since he was recalled from Triple-A Columbus on July 21. Francona believes in addition to Cabrera's bat, the 14-year veteran has been a valuable addition to the clubhouse.

"He's a good teammate," Francona said. "Guys love him. He cares about the right things. … Since he's come back, he's been really good. I think he's just dangerous. He gets the barrel to the ball a lot. He's come up with some really big hits to boot. I just think his ability to switch hit and make contact, it's kind of solidified us out there."

SOUND SMART

Clevinger's five pickoffs are the most by an Indians pitcher since also collected five in 2010, and the most for the club by a right-hander since Tom Candiotti collected six in 1989. The pick marked the 17th time in franchise history a pitcher has thrown at least five. This season, only (10), and (both with six) have more.

HE SAID IT

"They've filled in great, man. Yandy, he's a great hitter. He goes down, and when he comes up, he kind of like fits right back into our family. I call this a family. The job that Greg Allen has done, that's unreal, man. You can't ask for more. He's done it all. He's put the ball in play. He hustles, steals bases, runs first to third. That's what we need on our team. That's what we want. Everybody that comes here, we want them to feel comfortable and play their game, man.

"Melky, man. He's been up here for a long time. He knows the league a lot. He's a veteran. He knows what he's doing at the plate. He knows what he's capable of and we're just glad he's on our team, because in past years he raked against us." -- Perez, on the presence of Allen, Diaz and Cabrera

UP NEXT

Right-hander (15-6, 2.68 ERA) will get the start in Game 1 of a four-game series against baseball's hottest team, the Red Sox (88-37), at Fenway Park. Boston will counter with right-hander (15-5, 4.04). Monday's first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.