The Indians broke the southpaw curse thanks to the home run ball.
Home runs normally aren't how the Indians score their runs; they came into tonight's game in Baltimore 12th in the league in round trippers. But they scored all 7 of their runs via the long ball, with six of them coming on two swings of the bat.
Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen actually has better numbers against right-handed hitters, but of late the Indians have been struggling against anyone who throws left-handed. As a team they're hitting .216/.299/.326, over 120 OPS points below how they hit against right-handers. It's no wonder why Buck Showalter chose a left-hander (Dana Eveland) when he had an open spot to fill for Saturday. But tonight the Indians did fairly well against the southpaw Chen, accumulating 6 hits and 3 walks in 6.1 innings. Johnny Damon, who until a couple weeks ago seemed on his way off the team, struck first with a three-run homer in the second inning. Damon is hitting .333/.394/.533 over the last 14 days, much of that coming while the rest of the team has been struggling offensively.
That early lead was given to Zach McAllister, making his first start as a permanent member of the Tribe rotation. Until tonight McAllister had either been making a spot start or filling in for an injured pitcher, but he now has a genuine opportunity to stay in the rotation for good. His first outing as a regular was good; he struck out 6 in 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on J.J. Hardy's homer on a hanging slider in the 5th. Though it seemed like he was always ending the inning with runners on base, Zach never really was in a big jam.
Manny Acta went with Joe Smith in the sixth, an inning earlier than usual for the Tribe setup man. But the Indians were trying to end a five-game losing streak, and because of that the back end of the bullpen was rested. Smith would get the last out of the sixth and get through the seventh, but it turned out that Acta could rest his two other key relievers thanks to a couple developments: Asdrubal Cabrera's three-run homer in the seventh off of Luis Ayala, and Esmil Rogers' outstanding two innings of work. It's easy to see why the Indians were interested in Rogers, with his almost effortless mid-90s fastball and his outstanding slider. He retired the Orioles in order in both the eighth and ninth innings to preserve the victory and give the Indians just their second win on the road trip.