Game 95: Orioles 4, Indians 3

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 22: Catcher Taylor Teagarden #31 of the Baltimore Orioles returns the ball as Lou Marson #6 of the Cleveland Indians reacts to striking out during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field on July 22, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Indians finally got their bats going in the ninth, but came up just short, and because of that, they're now looking at a 4.5-game deficit in the division race and a 4-game deficit in the wild card race (with seven clubs ahead of them).

The offense again, at least until the ninth inning, was non-existent, as Orioles starter Zach Britton went 6 shutout innings, allowing just four hits and walking two batters. 11 of the 13 outs recorded on balls put in play were on ground balls, and the five others were recorded via a strike out. The Indians had a couple chances to get on the board during Britton's start, including the fifth, when Carlos Santana (who seems to have broken out of a lengthy power outage) led off the fifth with a double, but they couldn't take advantage of them.

Josh Tomlin trailed 2-0 after the first two batters of the game thanks to a leadoff single by Nick Markakis and a two-run homer by J.J. Hardy. But Tomlin kept the Indians in the game, blanking the Orioles the rest of his start, going six innings and allowing six hits the rest of the way.

The turned out to be the key to the game was the two runs allowed by the Indians bullpen, one in the seventh off Esmil Rogers, and one in the eighth off Jeremy Accardo (who may have made his last appearance for the Indians). Granted, Buck Showalter would have used his bullpen differently had the Orioles only been up by 2 going into the ninth, but Jim Johnson's sinker wasn't sinking today, so who knows what would have happened?

Luis Ayala started the bottom of the ninth, and after he struck out Jose Lopez, he allowed a Michael Brantley single followed by a Carlos Santana two-run homer. Ayala was pulled and Johnson was brought in, but Shelley Duncan continued the rally with a double that hit half-way up the wall in left field. Travis Hafner (pinch-hitting for Lou Marson) then drove Duncan home with a single to right (the first Tribe run of the series not scored via the home run). Johnny Damon hit line drive to the gap that left fielder Endy Chavez ran down, and after Choo drew a walk, he struck out Asdrubal Cabrera on a slow curve to end the game.

Source: FanGraphs

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