CLEVELAND – The Indians didn't let a rough day get any worse by losing to the woeful Orioles.
José Ramírez picked up a pair of RBIs — made possible by Baltimore blunders in the field — and Cleveland shook off losing ace Shane Bieber for at least a few weeks by extending the Orioles' road losing streak to 16 straight games with a 4-3 win Monday night.
The Indians' victory was tempered by the Bieber going on the injured list for an unknown period due to a shoulder strain. The reigning AL Cy Young winner won't be allowed to pick up a baseball for two weeks.
“It’s kind of a kick in the stomach when you hear that about Bieber,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And we’re asking a lot of young guys to do things that maybe they haven’t done before: pitching on short rest, starting a game but not being terribly stretched out.
“But at least if we pull in the right direction all together, I always feel like we’ll figure it out.”
Ramírez drove in a run off Dean Kremer (0-6) in the first inning when Baltimore left fielder DJ Stewart slipped in the wet grass going after a routine fly. Ramirez added an RBI double in the sixth when Orioles second baseman Stevie Wilkerson dropped his foul pop, giving him another try.
Baltimore made two errors in the sixth.
“The bottom line is we just didn't play defense tonight,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who was ejected in the first inning. “You got to have to play defense in the big leagues to win and we made numerous plays that hurt us.”
Indians rookie reliever Nick Sandlin (1-0) picked up his first career win by striking out three of the five batters he faced.
James Karinchak worked out of a jam in the seventh and followed a leadoff walk by striking out the side in the eighth. Emmanuel Clase worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save.
Bieber's absence will force Francona to be creative with his pitching staff, especially his solid bullpen.
“We’re going to have to play it by ear every night,” he said. “If a guy’s rolling and we stay with him, that’s OK, too. We’ll have to know that he’s not going to be available for a while. It’s going to be a lot of communication. We’re going to need a lot of honesty from them and see if we can make it work.”
The start was pushed back one hour by rain, but the Orioles couldn't delay extending their team record road losing slide. Baltimore hasn't won away from home since John Means pitched a no-hitter at Seattle on May 5.
As bad as it is, Baltimore's streak isn't even the longest in the majors this season. Texas also lost 16 in a row from May 10 to June 11, and Arizona has currently lost 20 straight on the road.
The 1963 New York Mets hold the record with 22 straight road losses.
Hyde made it through the rain delay, but not the first inning as he got ejected for arguing.
The Indians caught a break while scoring three runs in the first inning, which included Hyde getting tossed for protesting an overturned call.
With a runner on first, Francona won a video review challenge when Amed Rosario was awarded first after being hit by a pitch. Hyde charged from the dugout and was immediately thrown out by first base umpire Nestor Ceja.
Cleveland's first run scored when Ramírez lofted a fly and Stewart lost his footing and fell. Eddie Rosario followed with a sacrifice fly and Bobby Bradley hit an RBI single.
The Orioles cut it to 3-2 in the fourth on RBI groundouts by Stewart and Freddy Galvis.
Ramírez capped a nine-pitch at-bat with his double in the sixth, the hit coming after failed to squeeze his deep foul ball way down the first-base line.
“You give Ramirez a second chance and he's going to end up hurting you,” Hyde said.
Bieber hasn’t pitched up to his lofty standards lately, and the right-hander could be feeling the effects of averaging an MLB-leading 105 pitches per start. He threw 107 in only five innings in a loss to Seattle on Sunday and underwent an MRI that revealed swelling.
“So we need to slow him down, let this thing calm down,” Francona said.
The Indians will only play two teams currently with winning records the rest of June. After four games with the Orioles, who came in with the AL's worst record, they'll face Pittsburgh, the Cubs, Minnesota and Detroit.
The easy schedule doesn't necessarily help. Cleveland entered the series 16-17 against clubs under .500 and 18-11 against winning teams.
Indians RHP Cal Quantrill (0-2) makes his third start and faces Orioles RHP Matt Harvey (3-7), who has lost seven of his past eight starts.
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